Jul 25 2012
A passport/visa scam giving potential terrorists the chance to sneak into Britain with Pakistan’s Olympic team has been smashed by The Sun. The paper claims it infiltrated a crime ring offering false passports, visas, as well as access to Olympics as bogus support staff.
The Sun We infiltrated a crime ring offering false passports, visas — and access to London 2012 as bogus support staff. We uncovered a ring of corrupt Pakistani officials and travel staff conspiring with a prominent politician to bypass stringent security.
First they provided our undercover investigator with a genuine Pakistani passport in a false name. Then leading Lahore politician Abid Chodhary spelled out how for around £7,000 he could get our man a two-month visa — and smuggle him into London 2012 as part of Pakistan’s Olympic squad.
The Sun secretly filmed Mr Chodhary as he explained how easy it was to get into the Olympic Village by masquerading as a member of the athletes’ support team. We were told we could even take part in Friday’s opening ceremony.
At no point did any of the corrupt officials question our reason for wanting to sneak into Britain. An investigation was under way yesterday after we alerted MI6, the Home Office, the UK Border Agency and the British High Commission in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad.
One intelligence operative said: “The Sun has unearthed a sophisticated network of corruption. The idea of unknown agents being flown in to the UK to be a sophisticated network of corruption. The idea of unknown agents being flown in to the UK to be put up in the Olympic Village beggars belief.
“Terrorists would have the biggest platform to perform their atrocities. A member of al-Qaeda could fly to the UK on a genuine passport in another name and the authorities would be none the wiser.
We approached one of its staff and a meeting was arranged in Lahore with a fixer called Bobby. Bobby bragged that for £600 in Pakistani rupees he could get us dodgy travel documents.
The next day he took our man to the National Database Registration Authority — Pakistan’s passport agency — in a Lahore suburb.
Bobby explained a scan of the database had identified a Pakistani — of a similar age to The Sun’s man — who had either died or his passport and ID card had expired. Our man’s photograph and fingerprints were taken. His new identity would be in the name of Muhammad Ali, born November 8, 1977.
As The Sun’s undercover man was led from desk to desk in two separate passport and ID card offices it became clear up to 12 people were in on the scam at this single centre.
Mr Chodhary confirmed it would be easy for our man to slip into the UK by posing as an Olympic support staff member.
He said it would cost 150,000 rupees — just over £1,000 — for an official letter saying we were part of the squad. And the total cost of the letter and a visa for two months would be a million rupees — close to £7,000.