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American, European Jihadists in Syria Raise New Domestic Terror Fears

Wave of terror could result from training, expertise gained in fighting with al Qaeda rebels

Significant numbers of American and European jihadists are traveling to Syria to join Islamist "rebels", prompting new fears of a future wave of al Qaeda terror attacks in the United States and Europe, according to U.S. officials.

Several thousand foreign terrorists, as well as Americans, are joining the Islamist faction of the now-divided Syrian "rebels" battling the Syrian Army.

Most are joining the al-Nusra Front, al Qaeda’s main terrorist group in Syria, along with smaller Islamist militias made up of nationals from more than a dozen foreign countries.

A U.S. official familiar with intelligence reports said the influx of Americans and Europeans to Islamist "rebel" forces in Syria is increasing the threat of future terrorists attacks here and in Europe.

“There’s a real concern in the U.S. government about what happens to these guys when they are done and they come home,” this official said. “Right now they are getting training to be al Qaeda terrorists.”

 A second official said: “The Syrian opposition is benefiting from a steady flow of foreign fighters who seem to be joining a variety of Islamist-oriented brigades or starting up nationality-based units.”

He continued, a few hundred Europeans currently are in Syria and are mainly extremist Muslims who traveled over land to reach the opposition groups. “Of course there’s concern that trained-up in Syria they could eventually reverse course and threaten their home countries,” this official said.

U.S. intelligence agencies have been closely monitoring the flow of foreign terrorists into Syria for the past year. They have watched scores of jihadists joining mainly the al-Nusra Front each month. Others have joined the Chechen-led Jaysh Al Muhajirin wal Ansar, which has fought together with al-Nusra.

Al-Nusra also joined forces with the Iraqi al Qaeda group, Islamic State of Iraq, to create a new group called the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

U.S. intelligence estimates put the number of foreign fighters in Syria at up to 6,000 people, of which around 17 percent are thought to be from outside the region.

Most of the foreign fighters are from Middle Eastern, North African, and Central Asian states, including Libya, Egypt, Jordon, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Algeria, and United Arab Emirates.

However, the terrorists that are entering Syria from the West are raising new concerns about future domestic terror attacks. Included in this group are jihadists from the United States, Chechnya, Canada, France, Ireland, Kosovo, and Britain.

For many, the fighting is the first experience of putting their radical Islamic faith into action on the battlefield, the officials said.

Germany’s Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich was quoted in the online Neue Oz Online in May as saying there were as many as 700 European jihadists in Syria.

A spokesman for the National Counterterrorism Center had no immediate comment on the number of American jihadists estimated to be fighting in Syria.

Matthew G. Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said during a speech to the Aspen Security Forum last month that his centers major concern is the flow of foreign fighters to Syria.

“Syria has become really the predominant jihadist battlefield in the world,” Olsen said. “We see foreign fighters going from Western Europe and, in some cases, in a small number of cases from the United States to Syria to fight as part of the opposition.”

Olsen said the security concern is that the fighters will become further radicalized and train end “then returning as part of really a global jihadist movement to Western Europe and potentially to the United States.”

According to the officials, most of the western jihadists are either Muslim immigrants or converts.

It is these Caucasian converts that are raising security concerns, the officials said. Al Qaeda has been trying for years to recruit Americans and Europeans as terrorists because they are believed to be capable of more easily evading western security monitoring.

Patrick Poole, a private counterterrorism analyst, said terrorist groups have welcomed Americans joining their ranks.

“Their presence serves as a vehicle for recruitment and fundraising from the West, which is what we saw in recent years with al-Shabaab recruiting and fundraising from the Somali communities in the United States,” Poole said in an interview.

Outgoing Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell said the threat of terrorism emanating from Syria is now the top priority threat for the agency.

“It’s probably the most important issue in the world today because of where it is currently heading,” Morrell told the Wall Street Journal in an interview published Aug. 6.

are now sneaking into Iraq,” Maliki was quoted as saying at a youth meeting.

Meanwhile, Germany’s Bild newspaper reported Aug. 19 that al Qaeda is plotting attacks on Europe’s high-speed rail network.

Source: free beacon.com

B.N

World Humanitarian Day

Every year on 19 August, the international community marks World Humanitarian Day in recognition of aid workers who have lost their lives in the course of their duty.  It is also a day to celebrate humanity and the spirit that inspires people to help others who are in need, even in difficult and dangerous situations, often putting their own lives as risk. 

This year, we are remembering Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers and staff who have died during duty, especially in Syria, where more than 20 Syrian Arab Red Crescent workers lives have been lost at the hands of foreign-backed terrorist groups since the crisis started. All humanitarian workers, including volunteers should be given safe and secure access to deliver life-saving aid and assistance to vulnerable people without exception. Losing just one life is too many.

 Sharing memories of a fallen volunteer with his family in Syria

 

Kareem Jabour was a Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteer who joined the Red Crescent in 2008. He lost his life eight months ago in Jaramana, while he was trying to move people injured in car bomb to hospital.

Kareem’s father, Dr. Gassan Jabour, remembers the day of the fatal explosion and how his son Kareem went to help the injured. His friend Rami also followed him to the site of the explosion. Sadly, both died. It was a shock, a very hard shock for the families. Kareem was the only son in his.

A close family friend offers his own perspective: “The volunteers are not carrying weapons, they are carrying their lives, and they carry their own lives to save the lives of others. The work of the Red Crescent volunteers is known to everyone in this area, and is respected by everyone.”

Kareem’s father adds his own anecdote of how he has observed volunteers carrying out their work with such high levels of professionalism. Two days ago, his sister broke her hand and he approached the Syrian Arab Red Crescent emergency center for help. He has nothing but admiration for their work, saying, “I am a doctor, and I watched how they did their job so professionally.”

Despite all the fears, worries and difficulties facing the work of a volunteer in this crisis, the work is widely encouraged and supported, particularly by the Syrian Government . It has become a visible phenomenon among the young people of Syria. Kareem’s father explains how the good reputation of volunteers and the work they do is encouraging other young people to join the Red Crescent to volunteer.

Kareem’s mother recalls a day when he came to the house and suddenly started to fill bottles with water, putting them in the refrigerator. “Mum, people do not have cold water to drink.” He was taking the refreshing cold water to displaced people in the shelter near their house.

This was typical of Kareem. I feel grateful to share Kareem’s family memories, whose voices are often unheard.

 

Lama Hassania

Iran's Zarif: Syrian Government not behind Alleged Chemical Attacks in Damascus Countryside

TEHRAN- Iran has dismissed claims accusing the Syrian government of using chemical weapons against armed groups' positions in the countryside of Damascus.

"If the use of chemical weapons is true, it has definitely been carried out by terrorist and Takfiri groups, because they have proved in action that they don't hesitate in committing crimes,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif said in a late Wednesday phone conversation with his Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu.

Zarif also argued that Damascus could not be behind the alleged attack as the Syrian Army has upper hand in the battle against foreign-backed armed groups and the UN inspectors are present in Syria.

"This criminal act has been carried out by terrorist groups because their interests lie in intensifying the crisis in Syria,” he added.

The Iranian foreign minister also stressed Tehran’s strong condemnation of any use of chemical weapons.

Some Arab and international media outlets which are part in shedding the Syrian blood have launched an anti-Syria campaign alleging that the Syrian Arab Army had used chemical weapons against armed groups in al-Ghouta area of Damascus Countryside. 

But the Syrian Army vehemently rejected the allegations, saying the accusations were categorically null and void and were fabricated to mislead the visiting team of the UN chemical weapons experts and to cover up terrorists' losses.

"The claims come within the framework of the media war against Syria, according to a statement by the General Command of the Syrian Army and Armed Forces. 

The head of the UN inspection mission, Ake Sellstrom, has said that the alleged attack should be investigated. The Arab League has also called on the inspectors to visit the site of the alleged chemical attack.

Meanwhile, Britain, France, the US, and Saudi Arabia have called for the UN Security Council to convene immediately to discuss the reports of the chemical attack.

In March, dozens of people were killed in a chemical attack by armed groups, in the northern province of Aleppo. A Russian-led inquiry said terrorists were behind the deadly attack.

H. Mustafa

Zionist entity 'main player' in war on Syria, stresses al-Mouallem

DAMASCUS,(ST)_Foreign and Expatriates Minister has underscored that Gulf tools are being used by Israel to implement a foreign conspiracy hatched against the country.  

Walid al-Mouallem made it clear that the US stalls the Russia's efforts to convene Geneva 2 conference under different pretexts because it wants violence and terrorism to continue unabated in Syria as long as that service Israel's interests.

The minister, who was speaking in a meeting held today with Syrian reporters and political analysts, said that the attitude of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states dovetails with that of the US and directly echoed by the opposition abroad which has no clear vision about participation in the conference. 

Political calculations

Al-Mouallem added that the political calculations are in the interest of the national forces and the resistance axis as the political situation in Egypt has changed and the extremist Islamic bloc led by Turkey has received a knockout blow after the downfall of Muslim brotherhood in Egypt.

"Any political analysis for the events in Syria must take Israel's attitude into consideration. Israel has become a main player in the events since it attacked three sites in the country and received wounded terrorists in its hospitals," the minister said.    

 On the other hand, he stressed that Syria shares Russia in reading the stance towards investigation on the use of chemical weapons  as the two countries are certain that the weapons had been used by the armed terrorist groups.

The same conspiracy

As for what is going on in Iraq, al-Mouallem confirmed that the Iraqis spare no effort in combating terrorism on their territories and  borders as they realized that those who are conspiring against Syria are also conspiring against Iraq.

On situation in Lebanon, the minister sees that there is still a division between a bloc supporting terrorist groups and another one supporting the Syrian state.

Jordan Front

Regarding the influx of gunmen and weapons from Jordan, al-Mouallem said that Syria's enemies are planning to open the Jordanian front to supplant Turkey, noting that the Doha Coalition's head had entered the Syrian territories through Jordan.

"Do weapons, gunmen and opposition members cross borders without coordination with the Jordanian leadership?" the minister asked, warning that the facilitation of terrorists' infiltration by some countries will boomerang on them.

EU attitude

Concerning the European attitude, the minister referred to a slow development saying: "there are European attempts to return to Syria through Humanitarian organizations which is not accepted by Syria."

The minister concluded his speech by urging the national mass media to step up its efforts and  stand by the Syrian Arab army in its national duty as well as working towards boosting the national spirit.

Basma Qaddour 

Russia suggests Syria 'chemical attack' carried out by rebels

Reports by “biased regional media” about alleged chemical weapons use near Damascus might be “a provocation planned in advance,” says Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Aleksandr Lukashevich.

“It draws attention to the fact that biased regional media have immediately, as if on command, begun an aggressive information attack, laying all the responsibility on the government,” Lukashevich said in a statement on Wednesday,according to Russia Today.

This comes on the same day that the UN inspectors arrive in Damascus to investigate allegations of use of toxic arms.

M.D