Al Qaeda groups in Syria have vowed to bring their fight to the United States and Britain once they have accomplished their goals in the Middle Eastern country.
A video published by Vice News includes interviews with a pair of British men who traveled into the combat zone in Syria to join up with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Jabhat al-Nusra – known jihadist groups.
One of the British 20-somethings had this to say to a reporter from Vice News:
I say to United States that your time will come and we will bleed you to death and, inshallah (Allah willing) will raise the flag in the White House. My feeling is great, hamdullallah (thank Allah), I’m happy I’m here. And I’m here to please Allah… and I’m not here to please anyone else but Allah
The second of the pair of unidentified and masked British citizens stated that British Prime Minister David Cameron and the government are guilty of perpetrating crimes against Muslims. He also linked the horrific murder of Lee Rigby, the British soldier who was stabbed in London in May, to his overall objectives and motivation.
Britain’s MI5 intelligence agency estimates the number of British Al Qaeda sympathizers currently in Syria in the “low hundreds,” The Blaze reported. One Al Qaeda fighter told the news crew that there were so many “key members” from foreign lands fighting in their ranks that interpreters were needed to understand English, Russian, Dutch and French. A report by the Center for the Study of Radicalization at London’s King’s College said that most British Al Qaeda fighters are university-educated Muslims and in their 20s.
United States intelligence agencies maintain that approximately 10 to 60 Americans have joined the ranks of the Syrian fighters. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Representative Mike Rogers deemed the Syrian Civil War a “jihadist magnet.” Rogers also said, “At some point all of these people from Europe are going home. All the folks there from all over the world, including the United States, will be coming home if they do not meet their end on the battlefield.”
The idea that “they walk among us” is perhaps the most startling concept from both a personal safety and national security standpoint. A twentysomething American coming home from a trip abroad and returning to a college campus or the local mall might now be considered a lethal weapon and not just a common coed.
Washington Institute for Near East Policy Aaron Zelin is regarded as an expert on Al Qaeda groups in both Africa and the Middle East. Zelin told the Daily Beast that he has seen approximately 10 to 20 Americans who are now counted among the ranks of extremist groups in Syria. The senior fellow also said, “In terms of the European numbers, it’s definitely in the hundreds. It’s closer to 700 or 1,000, according to European officials I have spoken with.”
The loss of life which just 10 well-trained Al Qaeda fighters could cause in a typical American city or college campus would be quite high.
We are rapidly approaching the busiest shopping time of the year. Young men who blend in with those around them may not look threatening, but the radicalized training would have turned them into soldiers armed with both weapons knowledge and a deadly ideology.
The further removed we are from the tragedy of 9/11, the less likely a repeat of the devastating act of terrorism on American soil may seem. Such a collective short-term memory could be our downfall.