American, European Officials Express Concerns About Threats To Homeland From Radicals Fighting In Syria
Eli Lake adds more weight to the growing concerns among security experts that al Qaeda terrorists are leaving Syria for the United States under the radar of US intelligence forces. Writing in The Daily Beast, Lake says sources with which he has spoken who maintain that between six and 12 Americans who have gone to Syria to fight Assad have now returned stateside.
“The scale of that problem by all accounts has gotten worse. Last fall, the official U.S. estimate on Americans specifically who have joined the jihad in Syria was in the low double digits. In January, the New York Times reported that at least 70 Americans have either traveled or attempted to travel to Syria. Earlier this month FBI Director James Comey told reporters that he believed “dozens” of Americans were suspected to be foreign fighters in Syria, but declined to give a more precise number,” he reports.
The threat may be even more dangerous in Europe due to its proximity to the region. Earlier this month, The Independent detailed findings of a government report which asserted the number of men going to Syria to fight has reached “alarming levels and threatens years of domestic terror plots by battle-hardened jihadists on their return to Britain.”
Shortly after Mashudur Choudhury, a British citizen, was convicted of terrorism-related crimes, national security experts warned of possible attacks in London by radicals trained in Syria, according to a report by Martin Bentham. The experts said other European capitals also are under threat, particularly as the terrorists are changing their tactics and utilizing social media for recruitment purposes.
That analysis was echoed by French Foreign Ministry Director General for North Africa and Middle East Affairs Jean Francois Giroux who warned the threat must be actively countered.