US intelligence and the so-called counterterrorism officials fear the effort of dozens of al-Qaeda militants laying the foundation for future strikes against the US and Europe, a CIA director told a House panel recently.
The US officials fear that the dozens of militant fights, including some midlevel planners, have traveled to Syria from Pakistan in recent months in an effort to carry out future attacks in places in the West.
“We are concerned about the use of Syrian territory by al-Qaeda organization to recruit individuals and develop the capability to be able not just to carry out attacks inside of Syria, but also to use Syria as a launching pad,” the CIA director, John O. Brennan, told a House panel recently.
Top officials at the FBI, the so-called National Counterterrorism Center and the Department of Homeland Security say they are working closely with European allies to track Westerners returning from Syria.
“From a terrorism perspective, the most concerning development is that Al-Qaeda has declared Syria its most critical front,” said Matthew G. Olsen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, to a Senate panel in March.