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Police catch ‘IS-linked’ passport forger

Pakistani Mohammad Iqbal was caught in Thailand
Image: Pakistani Mohammad Iqbal was caught in Thailand

A Pakistani passport forger, who allegedly supplied fakes to Islamic State, has been arrested in Thailand.

Police confirmed 52-year-old Mohammad Iqbal was detained on 14 January outside his apartment in the capital Bangkok.

Officers found fake passports from Singapore and India as well as material to forge entry visas into France, Italy and Spain.

They said he was due to deliver documents to his clients when he was caught.

Each fake document was sold for between 7,000 and 8,000 Thai Bhat (£150-£180).

A Thai immigration officer displays some of the fake passports
Image: A Thai immigration officer displays some of the fake passports

At a news conference, immigration officials said the arrest was the result of a long surveillance operation and put an end to a career helping people enter Europe illegally.

Iqbal, who is believed to have been making forgeries from Thailand for the last decade, is accused of falsifying passports, visa seals and trafficking of fake passports.

Commander of the Immigration Bureau, Lieutenant General Suttipong Vongpint, told reporters in Bangkok: “He has worked on faking documents for a long time using Thailand as his base.”

Earlier this week, it was reported deputy prime minister and defence minister Prawit Wongsuwan linked Iqbal to a group selling passports to the Islamic State.

The immigration chief holds up a fake passport during the news conference
Image: Thailand’s immigration chief holds up a fake passport during a news conference

“The suspect has falsified visa and passports for the IS group with the attempt to make them travel from the Middle East into Thailand,” he said before adding that the attempts were unsuccessful.

But at Friday’s press conference, officials said they had found no concrete link to terrorism.

“Based on the investigation he will sell to every group, not particularly to IS, he just made them by orders,” Suttipong said.

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The arrest is part of an ongoing crackdown on forgery rings which often favour Bangkok as a hub.

Two Iranian passengers, who disappeared with Malaysian Airline MH370 in 2014, were travelling on fake European passports made in Thailand.

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