What Is Known About the Syrian Passport Found at the Paris Attacks

french soldier
A French soldier and French gendarmes patrol in front of the Louvre Museum Pyramid as it reopens in Paris November 16 following a series of deadly attacks on Friday in the French capital. Benoit Tessier/Reuters

Governors across the U.S. are citing a Syrian passport found near one of the Paris attackers as they declare their states will bar entry to refugees in light of Friday's deadly attacks. The document, however, has yet to be authenticated, and is proving to be a point of contention in the ongoing investigation of the attacks that have left 129 people dead and at least 99 in critical condition.

Where was the passport found?
It was found near the body of a suicide bomber who attacked the Stade de France soccer stadium Friday night as France hosted the German national team. There were three suicide bombers at the stadium, one who detonated at the gate and two outside. The New York Times notes only one—20-year-old Bilal Hadfi—has been identified. The passport was not found on Hadfi.

Whose passport is it?
The passport belongs to Ahmad al-Mohammad, who was born on September 10, 1990 and is from Idlib, Syria. Following the attacks, a Serbian man with ID containing the same information was arrested, The Guardian reported. That passport used a different photograph than the one found in Paris.

Where did the passport travel?
With two passports in the same name, another question is where these people traveled with them. The document found in Paris was reportedly used to pass through the Greek island of Leros on October 7, then later used in Serbia, Croatia and France. The passport was registered as belonging to a refugee.

French police told Reuters that the fingerprints on the body the passport was found near match records kept in Greece. Greek authorities confirmed the same to the Independent, noting the photograph also matches.

The second passport was used in Preševo, Serbia, at a refugee center, The Guardian reported, citing Blic, a Serbian newspaper.

Is the passport real or stolen?
Serbian officials told The Guardian that they think both the passport found in Paris and on the man they arrested are fake. A source investigating the case told the AFP that the passport belongs to a Syrian soldier who was killed earlier this year. Officials have not made any public statements on the passport confirming or denying its authenticity.

Why would an attacker leave a Syrian passport?
Charlie Winter, who formerly worked with the counter-extremism organization Quilliam, made the point that ISIS may have planted the passport as a fear tactic. "Why would a jihadist who expressly rejects all notions of modern citizenship take his passport on a suicide mission? So it gets found," he tweeted.

Germany's interior minister alluded to the same. "[It is] unusual that such a person was faithfully registered in Greece, Serbia and Croatia, even though we're usually pressing for registration to take place and lament that it isn't always done properly," Thomas de Maiziere told the Associated Press. "[Register the passport in multiple countries is] evidence that this was a trail that was intentionally laid, but it can't be ruled out at the moment that this was an IS terrorist who came to France...via Germany as a refugee."