Director of National Intelligence James Clapper today claimed that out of about 180 Americans who traveled to Syria to join various Islamist factions, 40 have already returned to the United States.
The claim sounds scarier than it likely is, as Clapper conceded that the US intelligence community doesn’t know how many of those 40 returnees were actual fighters, and admitted that the number includes people who went to Syria as aid workers.
That’s been a long-standing issue for Western intelligence agencies, which have been tracking the flow of people back and forth from Syria, but have limited information on what happened inside Syria.
The returnee fear is a long-standing one, as the lack of intelligence on what they were doing inside Syria means that people who have formed close ties to international terror could be returning with plans for attacks. The US war against ISIS only increases the chances they’d be a target of choice for such fighters.