Smuggled Back Into Syria

The following documentary investigates the process of “reverse smuggling” of immigrants from Germany back into Syria, via Turkey. Getting back to Syria involves some of the same techniques used to get into Germany in the first place: people smugglers and false identity documents.

Many thanks to Nash Montana for the translation, and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling:


0:12   An Arabic Facebook page.
0:15   Here residency documents are openly traded
0:18   for Syrian refugees.
0:22   Available! German papers for someone born in 1994!
0:27   Hello! I am going back to Turkey next month,
0:30   I offer the passports of my family for sale.
0:34   Available here. A German passport and residency permit
0:37   with all related documents.
0:40   We are watching the site. Up to eight new passports
0:43   are being offered per day; we want to find out what is going on here.
0:46   We pose as interested buyers.
0:49   Our profile: Omar, 23, from Damascus,
0:52   looking for a German passport for his cousin.
0:55   We get an offer very quickly.
1:04   We show that we are interested.
1:08   This picture looks like my cousin. I offer you 700 Euros for the passport.
1:12   No that is not enough. I would rather throw the passport in the trash.
1:15   You have to consider, you will get this passport here,
1:18   even though it would be much safer for me to wait and sell it
1:21   in Greece. You can buy it for 1600.
1:25   I am a refugee like you, I offer you 1000.
1:32   1600, that is my last word. Think about it.
1:36   We arrange a meeting with the seller.
1:43   Düsseldorf, Main train station,
1:47   and we document the meeting with hidden camera.
1:52   “Why do you even want to sell your passport?”
1:55   (Syrian refugee) “Even though I feel pretty good here, and I have a nice apartment,
1:58   I am married and my family is in Idlib, in Syria,
2:01   and besides, two of my brothers were murdered a few months ago.
2:04   I have to go back, here, my passport.”
2:08   And indeed! It is the blue passport
2:11   that the German government issues for refugees.
2:15   “Many of my friends have already gone back;
2:18   some are only waiting on their German documents,
2:21   so they can sell them and go back, but this is really stupid.
2:24   The trip to Germany was expensive and dangerous,
2:27   and now I go back, and I have to be smuggled out again.”
2:34   Could it be? Syrians who sought for protection in Germany
2:37   are going back to the country from which they had to flee?
2:40   And again, people smugglers are doing a good business?
2:43   In any case, the German government does not support
2:46   Syrians who want to return home, due to security reasons,
2:49   and Syrians can only acquire legal documents from Turkey, Lebanon or Jordan,
2:52   if they have contact people and can prove they have the financial ability to pay.
2:55   For most of them, this is impossible.
2:58   Munich, airport.
3:01   We want to track the route of the returnees, as if we were one of them.
3:04   Greece, as we know from the Facebook forum, is the stopover
3:07   from which the trip back is arranged.
3:10   We are headed to Thessaloniki.
3:13   At the gate we talk to two Syrians
3:16   who have booked the same flight.
3:19   Bilal and Youssef, two brothers from Aleppo, on their way back home.
3:23   (Youssef) “It was very bad for us here. All laws are against us.
3:27   We were in Germany for 16 months, but got our papers only three months ago.”
3:30   (Bilal) “My wife and three children are still in Aleppo.
3:33   When it became clear that it was impossible
3:36   to get them to Germany, I decided to leave Germany.”
3:43   Whether they have already sold their German documents,
3:46   or whether they are planning to sell them in Greece, they won’t disclose to us.
3:55   Thessaloniki, airport, we arrive in the early evening.
3:58   We contact the Facebook forum again,
4:01   and we start chatting with a smuggler who offers his services on location.
4:05   Hello, I am here in Thessaloniki with two other refugees.
4:08   We want to know how we can get to the border.
4:11   The smuggler leaves us a voicemail on the phone.
4:15   (Smuggler) “This is my cousin’s number; call him,
4:18   tell him that Habu sent you, and that you
4:21   should take the bus to Didymoticho.”
4:24   Didymoticho.
4:27   Are the returnees at the Greek border
4:30   being smuggled further into Turkey?
4:34   We meet with the cousin of the smuggler,
4:37   we ride from the airport to the bus station.
4:42   Thessaloniki, main bus station.
4:48   (Smuggler) “No worries, there are a few places where you have to walk,
4:51   but don’t worry the river isn’t very wide, we bring refugees across every day there.”
4:56   —“What should we do if the police catch us?” —“You will go to jail for a few hours…
4:59   …and maybe they will shred your papers,
5:02   and then they will bring you near the river and let you cross it.
5:05   They’re happy when refugees leave again.
5:08   That’s how it always goes; it’s really no big deal.”
5:12   At the bus station we meet two more returners
5:15   from Germany, Ahmed and Houga.
5:18   We have up until now met four Syrians
5:21   who want to go back.
5:24   Apparently this route has become popular.
5:30   (Youssef, Syrian refugee) “Last month alone about 400 people returned;
5:33   that’s normal, we don’t have a choice.”
5:42   The next morning we leave on the bus, destination the border.
5:48   The ride will last eight hours. It will go along
5:51   the river Evros, which divides Greece from Turkey.
5:54   At many places the river replaces the border fences.
5:57   At least 1,500 people have lost their lives in this river.
6:00   Especially the land mines (on the Greek side)
6:03   and river rapids are considered dangerous.
6:12   Early afternoon. We arrive in the border city.
6:21   Didymoticho
6:24   We again make contact with the smuggler.
6:27   We are here, what should we do now?
6:30   The smuggler tells us we should get a room
6:33   at the hotel Anesis. He will come and pick us up
6:36   at night and bring us to the other side.
6:39   We follow his directions.
6:42   We get a room, we wait.
6:48   We use the time to do research,
6:51   and we meet Nikos Karadedos, a farmer.
6:54   Until a year ago, he was smuggling Syrians back.
6:57   “I speak with you because… I don’t owe
7:00   anyone anything. I went to prison because of it.”
7:06   When more and more returnees arrived, Nikos Karadedos
7:09   made use of the opportunity to do business.
7:12   “I had a friend, and this whole thing went through him,
7:15   he’s a Syrian himself, and whenever he heard of other Syrians
7:18   who wanted to return home, he called me.
7:21   I had a boat, and I had somebody
7:24   who checked the river shores for us with binoculars.
7:27   And that’s how I knew everything would go smoothly
7:30   when I came with the boat.
7:33   The best time was noon.
7:36   Per person, I made about 100 to 200 Euros.”
7:39   During one of his smuggling tours
7:42   he was caught by local police. He had to go to court.
7:45   But in this region, so the villagers say, a prison sentence
7:48   for smugglers is very rare.
7:54   “I reckon that I was imprisoned because
7:57   I wasn’t ‘in good standing’ with (working for) the police.
8:00   I can’t say for sure, but I do assume that
8:03   the police were involved. When they go on patrol,
8:06   then they’ll just go into a different direction,
8:09   they let the smuggler know ahead of time, ‘bring them over here,
8:12   and we won’t be there’.”
8:18   We meet with a mayor from the region.
8:21   We want to know what he knows about the business with refugees.
8:24   He won’t talk to us openly, but he agreed
8:27   to a covert interview.
8:30   (Mayor from Evros) “I am not going to claim there aren’t any networks
8:33   on our side or on the other side; of course they work together
8:36   in order to smuggle the refugees, but the majority of the
8:39   people involved are not indigenous people,
8:42   and you tell me, where aren’t there any entanglements?”
8:45   Even though on both sides of the river
8:48   cultivated fields reach the shores, the zone is a restricted military zone.
8:51   Officially filming is not allowed, the mayor tells us,
8:54   but he would make an exception for us.
8:57   And he shows us one of the passages where refugees cross the Evros.
9:03   Didymoticho
9:09   Back in the hotel, we again chat with the smuggler.
9:12   My brother, the price is €200
9:15   from Didymoticho to Istanbul. I will come tonight
9:18   and pick you up.
9:21   Okay, I will wait.
9:24   It will all be good. No fear. Just stay in the hotel,
9:27   wait for my call, and pray to God.
9:30   Then the smuggler called.
9:33   He asked us to pick up another group of Syrians
9:36   who just arrived at the bus station.
9:39   They too were going to be smuggled back tonight.
9:42   We didn’t want to risk getting busted, and we backed out.
9:45   Hours later a message reached us,
9:48   from the Syrians that we met during our journey.
9:51   Houga, Bilal, Youssef and Ahmed.
9:54   We have almost made it, we are standing on the river shore.
9:57   Pray to God for us.
10:00   And then a video gets posted on the Facebook forum.
10:06   “Now we go to Istanbul, Turkey,
10:11   these guys come from Germany, this is the
10:14   reverse immigration. I will put this online now,
10:17   you guys feel okay? Are you happy with the smuggler?”
10:20   “Yes this was a good trip!” (allahu akhbar in the background)
10:23   “Yeah you guys are nice too, and this is the river.”

3 thoughts on “Smuggled Back Into Syria

  1. It’s an amazing report. Where can I go to contribute to a fund so more of them can go back, and leave their passports behind?

  2. some time back, the question was raised in this blog, – what is exactly an organization behind fast and massive migration of (mainly fighting age male) Muslims to Europe?

    recent interview of Moshe Yaalon, former chief of Mossad, contains at least partial answer to this question here –

    “For a very long time, Erdoğan didn’t just allow illegal immigration, he facilitated it. We are not only talking about refugees. I went to Greece in February 2016 and was briefed on illegal immigration from Turkey to the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea. There were more than 800,000 illegal immigrants coming from Turkey to the Greek islands. Most were illegal immigrants from Morocco and Pakistan. There was no war in those places. The Greeks also claimed that Turkey subsidised flights from Marrakech to Istanbul for US$50. My conclusion is that Erdoğan aims to Islamise Europe.”

    my suspicion is that Mr. Yaalon didn’t mention all the truth on the subject, that another part of this puzzle is Saudi/Qatari participation.

    certainly if it is all true, it is well known in NATO.
    so the next question is – well, naturally, Hussein Obama provided the cover-up in the past, but what about Trump?

    at least for such an artistry, Erdogan’s Turkey should be kicked out of NATO, and all responsible persons declared non-grata and put on personal sanctions.
    and the next logical step would be, after scandal, the demand to take all these people back.

    I think this is of utmost importance and maybe worth expanding into separate entry in the blog.

    • erratum – Moshe Yaalon is former IDF’s Chief of Staff not head of Mossad.
      also not bad, – the same level.

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