FBI: Syria Is ‘Metastasizing’ Terrorist Threats Against U.S.

The agency director’s comments arrive on the heels of reports that al-Qaida is setting up training camps within Syria.

Syrian opposition fighters ride a truck through the town of Deir Ezzor on Monday.
National Journal
Jordain Carney
March 26, 2014, 9:51 a.m.

The FBI warned Con­gress on Wed­nes­day that Syr­ia is quickly be­com­ing a haven for ter­ror­ists look­ing to do harm to the U.S. and its al­lies.

A re­cent flood of mil­it­ants in­to the coun­try poses a “ser­i­ous chal­lenge” for coun­terter­ror­ism of­fi­cials, who are in­creas­ingly con­cerned that West­ern­ers in the coun­try could be trained to plan and carry out at­tacks around the world, FBI Dir­ect­or James Comey said.

“It’s one of the things that I meant by the meta­stas­iz­ing threat,” said Comey, ap­pear­ing be­fore a House Ap­pro­pri­ations sub­com­mit­tee. “We’re very wor­ried about people who [travel] there, who travel out to the E.U. and then can come to the U.S. without a visa, or our cit­izens who travel back and forth dir­ectly.”

Comey’s com­ment fol­lows a New York Times re­port that al-Qaida op­er­at­ives are trav­el­ing from Pakistan in­to Syr­ia as part of a co­ordin­ated plot to carry out fu­ture ter­ror­ist strikes against the U.S. and Europe.

Al-Qaida’s seni­or Pakistani lead­er­ship is hop­ing to use chunks of largely un­gov­erned ter­rit­ory with­in Syr­ia to re­cruit and train West­ern­ers — bey­ond the reach of drone at­tacks, which U.S. of­fi­cials are hes­it­ant to use in the war-torn coun­try.

Comey said the poorly or lightly gov­erned spaces in Syr­ia and oth­er coun­tries have al­lowed the growth of a glob­al ter­ror threat “that is weak­er in the core, but dis­par­ate and vir­u­lent in a lot of dif­fer­ent places.”

Ap­prox­im­ately 1,200 Amer­ic­ans and European Muslims have traveled to Syr­ia to fight in the coun­try’s civil war, which star­ted in 2011, The Times notes.

The FBI dir­ect­or said earli­er this year that U.S. of­fi­cials are us­ing a mul­ti­tude of ways to track Amer­ic­ans in Syr­ia, in­clud­ing elec­tron­ic spy­ing, travel re­cords, in­form­a­tion from sources in­side Syr­ia, and data provided by the European Uni­on.

Sub­com­mit­tee Chair­man Frank Wolf, R-Va., in­tro­duced le­gis­la­tion earli­er this month that would al­low the pres­id­ent to re­strict U.S. travel and ma­ter­i­al sup­port to coun­tries that have ter­ror­ist or­gan­iz­a­tions en­gaged in an armed con­flict with­in the coun­try — in­clud­ing Syr­ia.

Comey says he is gen­er­ally sup­port­ive of the le­gis­la­tion.

What We're Following See More »
‘LOTS OF MEETINGS’
Hill Dems Mull Dropping Wasserman Schultz
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Concerned that she's become too divisive, "Democrats on Capitol Hill are discussing whether Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz should step down as Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairwoman before the party’s national convention in July. ... Wasserman Schultz has had an increasingly acrimonious relationship with the party’s other presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, and his supporters, who argue she has tilted the scales in Clinton’s favor." The money quote, from a Democratic senator who backs Clinton: “There have been a lot of meetings over the past 48 hours about what color plate do we deliver Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s head on." Meanwhile, Newsweek takes a look at why no one seems to like Wasserman Schultz.

Source:
PRESIDENT PLEDGES VETO
House Votes Today on Bill to Strip Budget Autonomy from DC
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The U.S. House of Representatives plans to vote Wednesday on a Republican bill that would block the District of Columbia from spending locally raised tax revenue without congressional approval, prompting President Obama to pledge to veto it. In issuing the veto threat on Tuesday, the Obama White House made one of the strongest statements to date in support of the District’s attempt to win financial independence from Congress."

Source:
HE ‘WILL NEVER BE PRESIDENT’
Warren Goes After Trump Yet Again
13 hours ago
THE LATEST

When it comes to name-calling among America's upper echelon of politicians, there may be perhaps no greater spat than the one currently going on between Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Donald Trump. While receiving an award Tuesday night, she continued a months-long feud with the presumptive GOP presidential nominee. Calling him a "small, insecure moneygrubber" who probably doesn't know three things about Dodd-Frank, she said he "will NEVER be president of the United States," according to her prepared remarks."We don't know what Trump pays in taxes because he is the first presidential nominee in 40 years to refuse to disclose his tax returns. Maybe he’s just a lousy businessman who doesn’t want you to find out that he’s worth a lot less money than he claims." It follows a long-line of Warren attacks over Twitter, Facebook and in interviews that Trump is a sexist, racist, narcissistic loser. In reply, Trump has called Warren either "goofy" or "the Indian"—referring to her controversial assertion of her Native American heritage. 

LEVERAGE
Kasich Tells His Delegates to Remain Pledged to Him
18 hours ago
THE LATEST

Citing the unpredictable nature of this primary season and the possible leverage they could bring at the convention, John Kasich is hanging onto his 161 delegates. "Kasich sent personal letters Monday to Republican officials in the 16 states and the District of Columbia where he won delegates, requesting that they stay bound to him in accordance with party rules."

Source:
LOST BY HALF A PERCENTAGE POINT
Sanders Wants a Recount in Kentucky
19 hours ago
THE LATEST

Bernie Sanders "signed a letter Tuesday morning requesting a full and complete check and recanvass of the election results in Kentucky ... where he trails Hillary Clinton by less than one-half of 1 percent of the vote. The Sanders campaign said it has asked the Kentucky secretary of state to have election officials review electronic voting machines and absentee ballots from last week's primary in each of the state's 120 counties.

Source:
×