Tuesday, February 20, 2024

ARGENTINA | 09-03-2023 16:30

US Embassy hit by two security scares

Suspicious device found on Embassy gates in Palermo on Thursday, a day after two Syrians with falsified documentation were detained and terrorism protocol activated.

The United States Embassy in Argentina has been hit by two security fears in a week: a suspicious device was found on the property in Palermo today, just a day after two Syrians with falsified documentation were detained on Wednesday. 

Both cases went to Federal Court No. 6 headed by judge Daniel Rafecas, judicial sources told Noticias Argentinas.

Earlier today, a suspicious device was found between the perimeter bars of the Embassy, prompting local police to redivert traffic on the nearby streets. The explosives division of the Argentine Federal Police (PFA) was deployed accordingly and the device was quickly identified as a portable radio. 

The US Embassy confirmed that the “Embassy security and Argentine police responded, determined that the object did not present a threat,” and the area was declared clear. 

The scare came less than 24 hours after two Syrians with falsified documentation were detained at the Embassy.

The Anti-Terrorism Investigation Unit Department (DUIA) of the PFA confirmed to local daily La Nación the presence of “two citizens of legal age, who may be father and son, of Syrian nationality, with documentation proving a false identity.” 

It is understood that anti-terrorism protocol was activated by the federal police, who were informed of the incident by US Embassy staff.

According to the Clarín newspaper, the man believed to be the father is a 62-year-old Syrian. His falsified documentation indicates his name is Marwhan Khoury, although police said this may be an alias.

Khoury reportedly arrived in Argentina a few years ago and currently holds an Argentina DNI. In July 2021, he began the process of obtaining an immigrant visa for entry into the United States, judicial sources said. On Wednesday, according to La Nacion, Khoury completed the application process but his request was rejected. Khoury allegedly needs the visa in order to attend his son’s wedding in the US. 

During Khouvey’s application process, Embassy personnel noticed that as they entered his data into the system, an “error” message appeared. After several attempts, they cross-referenced the travel documentation library and found several irregularities.

Local reports that the DUIA intervened after the Deputy Regional Security Attaché for the Foreign Investigations Office of the Diplomatic Security Bureau, based at the United States Embassy in Buenos Aires, alerted PFA authorities to a “person with dubious origin, with a false or modified passport.”

The complaint led the DUIA to dispatch officers to the US Embassy. Khovery and his alleged son were detained as they exited the Embassy, but the son was released soon after.

According to Clarín, the duo’s vehicle, a grey Volkswagen parked on Avenida Libertador and John F. Kennedy, along with other cars nearby, were searched thoroughly by PFA officers from the Explosives Division. No suspicious material was found.

Thus far, no data has clearly linked the falsified documentation with international terrorism.



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