Posted by Curt on 17 April, 2015 at 10:18 am. 2 comments already!


Patrick Poole:

A federal grand jury indicted Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud yesterday on charges of traveling last year to fight with Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria and a designated terrorist organization, and then having received training returned to the U.S. with the mission of conducting terrorist attacks here at home – the first known case of a fighter returning from Syria with terrorist intent.

According to the indictment, Mohamud became a naturalized U.S. citizen in February 2014, and then a week later applied for his U.S. passport to travel to fight in Syria.

This case is of particular interest to me not only because Mohamud lived just a few miles from my own home in Columbus, Ohio, and that I have been warning of terrorist recruitment in Central Ohio for more than a decade, but also that Mohamud roamed freely around our city for eight months before he was arrested, during which time he could have committed any number of terrorist acts.

For more than a year now U.S. officials have been warning of the potential terror blowback from Americans who have fought in Syria, with senior counter-terrorism officials repeatedly claiming at times last year that more than 100 individuals had traveled from the U.S. to fight with terror groups in Syria and Iraq.

But FBI Director James Comey began to walk those claims back in late September and early October – just weeks before the November mid-term elections.

In an interview with 60 Minutes, he claimed that only “roughly a dozen” U.S. persons were fighting with extremist groups in Syria.

That was a marked change from his own comments in May, when his own figures were considerably higher:

Comey declined to give a precise figure for Americans believed to be involved in the Syrian struggle but said the numbers are “getting worse.”

“I said dozens last time,” said Comey, referring to an interview with reporters four months ago. “It’s still dozens, just a couple more dozen.”

A senior U.S. counterterrorism official estimated this year that 60 to 70 Americans have traveled to fight in Syria. Comey said that Americans in Syria are actively recruiting other Americans to join the fight.

Several dozen in May 2014 is still considerably more than “roughly a dozen” just a few months later.

An Associated Press article allowed Comey to explain his walk-back on his own numbers:

“When I use a number of more than 100, that means people who have gone and come back, people who have attempted to go and we locked them up, people who have gone and stayed,” Comey said during an interview with reporters at FBI headquarters. “The figure that I’ve been operating with is, ballparkish, a dozen still there fighting with terrorist groups.”

The AP reporters deemed the 100+ Americans fighting in Syria claim that had been repeated by a number of U.S. senior officials – including Comey himself – as having reached “urban legend status”.

But once America was past the mid-term elections, the stated numbers provided by senior officials quickly soared.

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