News broke Tuesday that American-born Douglas McCain was killed on a Syrian battlefield while fighting for the Islamic terror group ISIS. That startling revelation, as shared in our post “Terrifying: Shocking Proof That ISIS Is Recruiting American Citizens,” caught a lot of people by surprise. Many wondered just how many such recruits there could be…how many U.S. citizens may have taken up arms alongside hardened terrorists…how many American “converts” who could act as a vicious vanguard of terror by returning to the United States.
Well, would it surprise you to learn that U.S. intelligence believes there are not just dozens of such ISIS recruits training and fighting in Syria and Iraq, but quite possibly hundreds — up to 300, say officials, who could become a very real threat to the homeland?
The Washington Times reports that as many as 300 radicalized Americans gaining terror skills overseas are being tracked and monitored:
Officials say concern is widespread in Washington that radicalized foreign fighters could return to the homeland and commit terrorist attacks with skills acquired overseas, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the information. Those concerns were heightened by the disclosure Tuesday that a California man was killed fighting alongside militants with the group, also known as ISIS.
The U.S. government is doing its best to keep track of the foreign fighters, who have been shifting back and forth between Iraq and Syria, according to a senior U.S. official.
“We know that there are several hundred American passport holders running around with ISIS in Syria or Iraq,” the official said, offering a figure well above widespread reports of about 100 such fighters. “It’s hard to tell whether or not they’re in Syria or moved to Iraq.”
The threat is amplified due to the fact that ISIS is essentially a terror army with ever-growing resources, including money and firepower. Add to that the worrisome lack of security along our southern border, where any number of illegals of unknown origin stream across daily; and you’ve got a powder keg with a potentially short fuse.
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Understandably, the Obama administration downplays the threat level from foreign fighters who might return to America with the fervent intent to do harm.
Obama administration officials believe the threat capability of the returning jihadists is limited to small attacks. The foreign fighters are expected to lack the conspiracy planning and organization necessary to commit a larger attack like the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack, press secretary Josh Earnest said.
Military and intelligence experts, however — those with less of a political perspective — are not so sure. Again, from the article in the Washington Times:
[Retired Army Maj. Mike] Lyons suggested the foreign fighters overall present a greater long-term danger to the United States than al-Qaeda.
“Unlike the 9/11 terrorists, who worked as a team and [carried out] a plan over the course of years, individuals returning from Syria are likely a greater risk to be either lone wolf suicide bomber-type attackers or organizers/recruiters for cells who will conduct a more complex attack than a suicide bomb,” he said.
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