The Civil War in Syria continues to rage on and the US State Department has added a new danger to the mix, Americans joining Al-Qaida in their fight against Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad. There is no known count of how many Americans have joined the Syrian Civil War but there are fears that sooner or later these citizens will come back to the US as battle hardened Al-Qaida terrorists.
The British Intelligence experts put the count of Americans joining the fight at no more than a few dozen out of the suspected 15,000 Al-Qaida fighters in Syria but that number is enough to cause concern. Just this year, at least three Americans have been charged with planning to fight beside Jabhat al-Nusrah, a radical Islamic organization that the U.S. considers a foreign terrorist group, against Assad.
At a recent meeting of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Senator Thomas Carper said:
“We know that American citizens as well as Canadian and European nationals have taken up arms in Syria, in Yemen and in Somalia. The threat that these individuals could return home to carry out attacks is real and troubling”.
The Senate committee convened to discuss the topic on the heels of the arrest of a North Carolina man, Basit Sheikh, at an airport in Raleigh on his way to Lebanon to join the fight against Assad. Similar arrests have taken place in Illinois and Virginia. In each of these cases the suspects lived quiet unassuming lives before deciding to take up arms against Assad.
Back in August, Outgoing FBI Director, Robert Mueller, had made a comment where he expressed concern about American Muslims and “the associations they will make and, secondly, the expertise they will develop, and whether or not they will utilize those associations, utilize that expertise, to undertake an attack on the homeland.”
Sheikh has been assigned a team of lawyers to represent him in the case but those lawyers have been restricted by the court from discussing the details of the case. It is alleged that Sheikh told an undercover FBI agent that he was headed to Turkey in hopes that he could meet up with the people who could get him into Syria to join the rebels and give them logistical and medical support.
Do you think that Americans joining Al-Qaida in their fight against Bashar Assad could lead to significant security risks to the American homeland?