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Colombia announced the arrest of 19 yesterday in passport-forging ring linked to Islamic terrorist groups Hamas and al-Qaida that sent an undetermined number of foreign nationals to the United States and Europe, the attorney general’s office said on Thursday.

“Some of the suspects are wanted for extradition by the United States for collaborating with terrorist groups Hamas and al-Qaida,” said Deputy Attorney General Alberto Otalora.

Three members of Colombia’s Administrative Security Department, the state intelligence agency, and an employee of Colombia’s National Registry, which provides official identification documents, were arrested as part of the ring.

“This network since 2002 has been dedicated to falsifying documents in order to permit foreign citizens to travel as Colombians through Europe and the United States,” said a statement issued by the Attorney General’s Office.

The statement added that citizens of Pakistan, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt sent information to the ring in Colombia, which used that information to create false Colombian passports.

“The foreigners were turned into Colombian citizens without ever coming to Colombia,” the statement said.

The investigation has been under way since 2002.

Hamas this week won a majority of seats in elections for the Palestinian Authority’s legislature.



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