State Department Flags IDs and Porous Borders as Terrorist Concerns in Greece

Thursday, July 20th, 2017
Last Update: 12:47

Greece remains a cooperative counterterrorism partner, says a report published on Wednesday by the State Department.

The report, however, highlights two areas of concern: the national ID card is extremely vulnerable to alteration and photo substitution and the porous nature of Greece’s borders. Six of the attackers involved in the Paris and Brussels attacks were subsequently identified as having passed through Greece, it says.

The annual report, Country Reports on Terrorism 2016, provides the Department of State’s annual Congressionally-mandated assessment of trends and events in international terrorism.

The report says that in 2016, Greece experienced intermittent small-scale attacks such as improvised explosive device detonations by domestic terrorist groups, “although slightly fewer than in the past two years.”

Generally, the report adds, “these attacks did not appear aimed to inflict bodily harm, but rather sought to make a political statement.”

The report praises the Police Directorate for Countering Special Violent Crimes (DAEEV) which is responsible for counterterrorism in Greece. “DAEEV attracts highly motivated and educated young police officers.”

However, it adds, the unit has demonstrated a high capacity to collect information, but it lacks capacity to use the volume of data it collects and to share with other services within the Greek police and Coast Guard.

On the two areas of concern, the State Department notes:

Greece’s national ID card is extremely vulnerable to alteration and photo substitution, and it has not incorporated security features, such as a digitized photo and biometrics. To mitigate this vulnerability, police authorities instituted a system in 2015 for conducting electronic checks of civil registry databases to confirm documents submitted as part of the application for ID issuance and checks of national ID databases for passport issuance. The government has further committed to address this vulnerability through the introduction of a biometric national ID.

The porous nature of Greece’s borders remained of serious concern, particularly as Greece continued to be challenged by the refugee and migration crisis. Six of the attackers involved in the Paris and Brussels attacks were subsequently identified as having passed through Greece. Greece came under intense scrutiny from EU member states, with some Schengen members reinstating border controls until Greece corrects deficiencies in its external border management. To help address vulnerabilities, in May and June, DHS and its component agencies provided a series of training to bolster Greek border security efforts.

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration provided Insider Threat awareness training and U.S. Customs Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) provided traveler screening training to more than 100 airport employees, airline officials, and police. ICE also provided training on advanced Fraudulent Document Analysis for investigations to more than 25 Hellenic Police, Hellenic Coast Guard, and Customs officials.

The whole report from the State Department

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