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FBI worried that more Americans join fight in Syria

| Friday, May 2, 2014, 7:51 p.m.
REUTERS
A Free Syrian Army fighter uses a telescope in the Jabal al-Akrad area in Syria's northwestern Latakia province May 2, 2014. REUTERS/Alaa Khweled (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT)

WASHINGTON — FBI Director James Comey said Friday that the problem of Americans traveling to Syria to fight in the civil war there has worsened in recent months and remains a major concern to U.S. law enforcement and intelligence officials.

In a wide-ranging interview with reporters at FBI headquarters, Comey said the FBI is worried that the Americans who have joined extremist groups allied with al-Qaida in Syria will return to the United States to carry out terrorist attacks.

“All of us with a memory of the '80s and '90s saw the line drawn from Afghanistan in the ‘80s and ‘90s to Sept. 11,” Comey said. “We see Syria as that, but an order of magnitude worse in a couple of respects. Far more people going there. Far easier to travel to and back from. So, there's going to be a diaspora out of Syria at some point and we are determined not to let lines be drawn from Syria today to a future 9/11.”

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.”

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