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 »
"The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a sweeping constitutional challenge to Seattle’s minimum wage law, in what could have been a test case for future legal attacks on similar measures across the country. In a one-line order, the justices declined to hear a case by the International Franchise Association and a group of Seattle franchisees, which had said in court papers that the city’s gradual wage increase to $15 discriminates against them in a way that violates the Constitution’s commerce clause."
Hillary Clinton may have the Democratic nomination sewn up, but Bernie Sanders apparently isn't buying it. Buoyed by a poll showing them in a "virtual tie," Sanders is "holding three rallies on the final day before the state primary and hoping to pull off a win after a tough week of election losses and campaign layoffs."
"The New Columbia Statehood Commission—composed of five District leaders including Mayor Muriel Bowser, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, and D.C.'s congressional delegation—voted today to publicly release a draft of a new constitution for an eventual state next Friday, at the Lincoln Cottage." It's the first step in a statehood push this year that will include a constitutional convention in June and a referendum in November.
Amid outcry by President Reagan's children, actor Will Ferrell has pulled out of a movie that makes light of Reagan's Alzheimer's disease. A spokesperson for Ferrell said, “The ‘Reagan’ script is one of a number of scripts that had been submitted to Will Ferrell which he had considered. While it is by no means an ‘Alzheimer’s comedy’ as has been suggested, Mr. Ferrell is not pursuing this project."