Muslim followers of the Islamic State (ISIS) have long been encouraged to travel to the holy land of Mecca and then return to the Middle East to live out their faith in peace.
But, as the terrorist group’s recruitment in Europe has grown exponentially in recent years, some Muslims have sought to travel with the promise of a better life and find Allah on their own.
A new type of follower called a “fake follower” is now on offer.
Using a fake profile on social media sites, the follower will pretend to be another person or organization on the internet, and then travel with a “friend” to a location designated by the Islamic group.
These fake followers can then use the fake profile to make it appear as if they are traveling to a different location from the one where they were originally supposed to be.
The fake follower can even use a fake passport to enter the holy city.
For example, in August, a follower named Anwar Ibrahim made it into the heart of Berlin with a fake fake passport.
Ibrahim, who is a former ISIS fighter, used the fake passport as a fake travel document, according to police in Germany.
Ibrahim had traveled to Berlin for a business meeting, and when he returned to his hotel, he was arrested and charged with fraud and false identification.
The real Ibrahim, a German citizen of Afghan descent, was arrested in January and has been charged with a series of crimes including attempting to join the ISIS terror group, falsifying documents and possessing weapons.
In recent months, other members of the ISIS extremist group have also used fake profiles to travel, with one individual claiming to be an Egyptian Coptic Christian who went to Mecca and later returned to Egypt, police in the United Kingdom have said.
In December, an 18-year-old from Turkey who had been living in France was arrested for trying to travel from Paris to Syria, according a police statement.
Authorities said the teenager used the name Anis Khatib, who has previously been convicted in France for recruiting others to join ISIS.
In the past, Khatir has said that he was sent to Syria by ISIS and had traveled with the group to Mosul, Iraq.
Another 18-month-old ISIS member who traveled to France, Ibrahim Mohamed, also claimed to be Egyptian Copts, according the statement.