Intelligence officials say that the number of Americans who have gone to Syria to join the Islamist rebels is rising “steadily,” but still remains a relatively small fraction of the overall fighting force.
They estimate “dozens” of Americans have either gone to Syria or attempted to go to Syria to join the rebellion – a surprisingly small number considering estimates put the overall presence of foreign rebel fighters at upwards of 11,000.
It’s also small compared to some EU nations like Germany, which estimated some 200 fighters from their nation heading to Syria to join al-Qaeda. The problem is the same, however.
It’s not so much what happens in Syria, but rather what happens afterwards, when US citizens return home from the war with all sorts of al-Qaeda contacts and training. The US has arrested some who have gone to Syria to fight with the rebels, but the estimate of “dozens” seems low enough that it raises questions if the US even knows how many are there, let alone is keeping tabs on them all.