Israel Frets Rise of al-Qaeda in Syria

30,000-Plus al-Qaeda Across the Border May Be a Problem

For a long time, the Israeli government has simplified the Syrian Civil War down to the idea that the Assad government is allied to Iran and therefore bad, while the rebels are not allied with Iran, and therefore preferable.

That apparently looked good enough on paper, but in retrospect may have been a tad shortsighted, with Israeli intelligence officials coming to the growing realization that al-Qaeda might not be a great neighbor.

The officials put their estimate of al-Qaeda fighters in Syria at over 30,000, and expressed concern that “after Assad and after establishing or strengthening their foothold in Syria they are going to move and deflect their effort and attack Israel.”

It’s a reasonable concern because al-Qaeda has made no bones about not liking Israel, and rebels in Syria have made it clear that they see that country as the beginning of a regional and eventually global war. Israel may or may not be “next,” but they’re on the shortlist.

The bizarre part of this is that Israeli officials seem to just finally be noticing this problem, after quite some time insisting that anyone was better than Assad.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of