Colombian connection to Paris attacks

By bogotapost December 2, 2015
Seham Al Salkhadi Colombia

Al Salkhadi as she passed through migration in El Dorado airport.

Authorities are investigating whether Seham Al Salkhadi, who flew from Bogotá to Paris on July 6 using a stolen Israeli passport, was linked to the French terrorist attacks that left 129 dead.

Migración Colombia told the press that they had notified the French authorities of their suspicions about the traveller and that there was currently no information to connect the Syrian citizen to the attacks.

The woman, travelling under the name Ashira Krieger, was detained upon arrival in Paris and later released.

Her case is part of the Fiscalía’s enquiry into corruption at Migración which in August saw the arrest of seven officials – including one supervisor – on charges of human trafficking, bribery and conspiracy.

The arrests came after complaints from other countries – notably the US – of irregularities in records.

The officials are accused of providing an array of illegal services, including facilitating entry/exit to the country and forging documents.

Al Salkhadi is one of 70 people that the ring of corrupt officials is accused of helping, allegedly charging between COP$300,000 and COP$5million for their services.

Migración Colombia condemned the group’s activities, but defended the “transparency and honesty” of its remaining 1,300 employees.

Illegal migration routes are a hot topic worldwide, with reports showing that migrant smuggling and human trafficking routes use stops in various countries – including Colombia – and can take between six months and two years to reach a final destination.

Some media and social networks speculated that the case could damage Colombia’s Schengen agreement. However:

  • Foreign Minister María Ángela Holguín has said that the security situation in Europe will not affect the official signing of visa free Schengen travel for Colombians.
  • As of November 24, all Colombians wishing to travel must have a machine-readable or electronic passport. Those who have passports issued before 2010 need to apply for a new one in order to go abroad.