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.
- 1 For GOP, Time To Worry, Not To Panic
- 2 Emails May Be a Key to Addressing ‘Pay-to-Play’ Whispers at Clinton Foundation
- 3 The Bellwether Race for Trump’s Down-Ballot Drag
- 4 Vulnerable Freshmen From Both Parties Band Together to Save Themselves
- 5 On the Road for Clinton, Sanders Pushes Ballot Initiatives
What We're Following See More »
Since the release of the Access Hollywood tape, on which Donald Trump boasted of sexually assaulting women, "Senate Republicans have seen their fortunes dip, particularly in states like Florida, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada and Pennsylvania," where Hillary Clinton now leads. Jennifer Duffy writes that she now expects Democrats to gain five to seven seats—enough to regain control of the chamber.
"Of the Senate seats in the Toss Up column, Trump only leads in Indiana and Missouri where both Republicans are running a few points behind him. ... History shows that races in the Toss Up column never split down the middle; one party tends to win the lion’s share of them."
"Some Republicans are running so far away from their party’s nominee that they are threatening to sue TV stations for running ads that suggest they support Donald Trump. Just two weeks before Election Day, five Republicans―Reps. Bob Dold (R-Ill.), Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), David Jolly (R-Fla.), John Katko (R-N.Y.) and Brian Fitzpatrick, a Pennsylvania Republican running for an open seat that’s currently occupied by his brother―contend that certain commercials paid for by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee provide false or misleading information by connecting them to the GOP nominee. Trump is so terrible, these Republicans are essentially arguing, that tying them to him amounts to defamation."
Former Illinois GOP Congressman Aaron Schock "recently agreed to pay a $10,000 fine for making an excessive solicitation for a super PAC that was active in his home state of Illinois four years ago." Schock resigned from Congress after a story about his Downton Abbey-themed congressional office raised questions about how he was using taxpayer dollars.
If you need a marker for how confident Hillary Clinton is at this point of the race, here's one: CNN's Jeff Zeleny reports "she's been talking to Republican senators, old allies and new, saying that she is willing to work with them and govern."