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Colombia Dismantles False Passport Ring Linked to Al-Qaida, Hamas

Colombian authorities say they have dismantled a false passport ring with links to al-Qaida and the Islamic militant group Hamas, and arrested 19 people in connection with the case.

Prosecutors said Thursday three members of the state intelligence agency known as DAS, were among those arrested, and that one of them is among eight people sought by the United States for extradition. Officials also say a member of Colombia's National Registry, which provides official identification documents, was arrested in the sweep.

Authorities say the arrests follow an investigation that began in 2002. Local media reports say the passport-forging ring enabled foreign nationals to travel as Colombians to Europe and the United States.

The reports say the suspects sent the forged passports to citizens of Pakistan, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt, who never actually set foot in Colombia.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.