Terrorists In Syria: A Growing Threat To Western Interests Abroad

Bruce Riedel of The Daily Beast is the latest to warn of the growing danger posed to Europe and the West by terrorists coming from Syria.

Robert WIndrem of NBC News raised flags concerning vacationing terrorists, who “travel back and forth to the world’s most active conflict zone, where they are being trained to conduct attacks both inside and outside the war-torn country.”

Raffaello Pantucci, senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute security think tank, told The Independent that “it seems almost inevitable that some sort of a threat back to the UK will come off the battlefield in Syria, something supported by the fact that security services in the UK believe they have already disrupted at least one plot with links to Syria.”

Governments also have issued warnings. In early April, the US State Department released a “worldwide caution” and a report issued by the Canadian government said they had a “particular concern” about the “prospect that fighters participating in the civil war in Syria with extremist or terrorist groups could return to their home countries, including Canada, to attempt to radicalize others or conduct terrorist attacks.”

According to Riedel, almost every country Western Europe has reported that some of its Muslim citizens have traveled to Syria with a few from the United Kingdom, France, Belgium coming back as martyrs. There also is evidence of Americans fighting in Syria as well. Riedel says this development is not new and occurred during the Soviets war in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

“In comparison, the war against the Soviet 40th Red Army in Afghanistan in the 1980s attracted an estimated 20,000 foreign volunteers over a decade, according to the estimate of the American intelligence community when the Russians retreated from Afghanistan in 1989.  So Afghanistan attracted more volunteers, but over a longer time period. If Syria continues to attract foreign fighters at the rate we have seen so far and the civil war goes on for a decade, the Syrian war is all but certain to be an even larger factory for extremism than Afghanistan,” he writes.

 

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