WASHINGTON -- At least 50 Americans have joined the mix of extremist groups that are fighting to overthrow Syrian President
Intelligence officials say the Syrian civil war has become one of the biggest magnets for Islamic extremists around the globe since
James Clapper, the U.S. director of national intelligence, told the
A U.S. intelligence official told The Times that the total includes at least 50 Americans, a more concrete estimate than authorities have given previously. He declined to be identified because he was not authorized to discuss the figure publicly.
A report in January by the Israel-based Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center estimated that as many as 1,800 people from European countries have also fought in Syria.
"We are concerned about the use of Syrian territory by the Al Qaeda organization to recruit individuals … to use Syria as a launching pad" for attacks on the West, Brennan said.
Clapper said he was particularly concerned about a small cadre of Al Qaeda operatives who have fought in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and who aspire to attack the United States.
"Not only are fighters being drawn to Syria, but so are technologies and techniques that pose particular problems to our defenses," Clapper said.
James B. Comey, the
Prosecutors last year charged
Nicole Lynn Mansfield, 33, of Flint, Mich., a convert to Islam who was married to a Saudi man, was killed in May with rebels in northwestern Syria.