"Eight people arrived in the Istanbul Ataturk Airport from Casablanca [Morocco] to visit Istanbul for ‘touristic purposes," the Anadolu agency cited security services as saying.
The suspects, who claimed to have hotel reservations, planned to enter Germany illegally "posing as refugees." A police investigation refuted the suspects' claims.
The group was detained by a team of criminal profilers stationed at two of Istanbul’s airports and a bus terminal, tasked with interviewing suspicious individuals before allowing them entry into Turkey.
A travel itinerary seized from one of the eight suspects detailed plans to travel to Germany from Turkey’s Aegean Izmir district via Greece, Serbia and Hungary. The three countries serve as a widely used land route for hundreds of thousands migrants fleeing conflict-torn homelands in North Africa and the Middle East to seek asylum in Europe.
Fears resurfaced this week of extremists reaching Europe by posing as refugees after a Syrian passport has been recovered near the body of one of the November 13 suicide bombers in Paris. Greek and Serbian officials both said they had registered the passport holder as an asylum seeker at their respective reception centers last month.