By Milan Dinic and Amanda Holpuch, The Guardian
The passport has the same details and name – Ahmad Almohammad – as one found near the body of an attacker in Paris, but not the same photograph
Serbian police have arrested a man carrying a Syrian passport with the same details as one found near the body of one of the Paris suicide bombers, police sources told the Guardian.
The passport bears the same name and details – but a different photograph – as the document found near one of the men who attacked the Stade de France.
Serbian officials said that they believe both passports are fake, but added that they are working with French investigators to establish the origin of the documents.
French police found a passport in the name of Ahmad Almohammad, 25, near the body of one of the men who attacked France’s national football stadium on Friday.
On 7 October, a man using the passport had arrived on the small Greek island of Leros and registered as a refugee, before traveling on through Serbia and Croatia before entering France.
But on Saturday, a different man using a second passport with the same details was discovered in a Presovo refugee centre, according to the Serbian newspaper Blic.
Serbian police sources said that they believed both passports were fake and were acquired in the border area between Syria and Turkey. According to the source, French authorities contacted Serbian officials for assistance as Serbia maintains a detailed register of all refugees who pass through its borders.
Serbian security services are also in communication with authorities in Bosnia and Republika Srpska, monitoring the activities of alleged Isis sympathisers around the Bosnian village Gornja Maocha (Gornja Maoča).
“There could be a possible link for transferring terrorists for Vienna and further, and we know that is the path the Paris terrorist took,” a Serbian police source told the Guardian.
The French authorities have not confirmed whether the fingerprints of the man who registered as Almohammad in Leros match any of the attackers’ remains.
After registering in Greece, Almohammad moved on to Macedonia. On 7 October, he registered in Presovo (Serbia) where he sought asylum. Then on 8 October, he registered in Opatovac (Croatia). He stayed in Croatia for six hours and from there he crossed into Hungary and then Austria.
Serbian state broadcaster RTS said that Slovenia and Austria have agreed to close their borders. The television network said on Monday that Serbia’s bureau for coordination of security services would meet on Tuesday evening to discuss its border situation.
In the wake of the attacks, right-leaning European politicians – including France’s Marine le Pen – said that the country should immediately stop admitting refugees.
Several US governors have made similar calls, though only the federal government can halt this action. US president Barack Obama said he hopes to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees into the country in the next 12 months.
Speaking at a G20 press conference in Turkey on Monday, Obama said: “The people who are fleeing Syria are the most harmed by terrorism. They are the most vulnerable as a consequence of civil war and strife. They are parents. They are children. They are orphans and it is very important … that we do not close our hearts to these victims of such violence and somehow start equating the issue of refugees with the issue of terrorism.”