Dozens of American jihadis who fought in the war in Iraq and Syria have returned to the United States equipped with the training they used fighting either for or against ISIS, according to one federal official.
And their activities are being monitored.
“You can’t know everything,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a recent interview.
It was in a televised chat with Lesley Stahl of “60 Minutes” that he admitted there may not be as much oversight of those who trained and fought with terrorists as some people would like.
Stahl asked: “As I understand it, of the 180 Americans who have gone overseas to fight in Iraq and Syria, 40 have come back. I assume you’re keeping close tabs on those 40?”
Said Johnson: “We have, in fact, kept close tabs on those who we believe have left and those who’ve come back. A number have been arrested or investigated, and we have systems in place to track these individuals.
“But you can’t know everything.”
See the exchange:
At Right Wing News, Warner Todd Huston commented, “So, Obama has now admitted that he has allowed domestic terrorists to run free inside the U.S., people who have already proved they are foreign fighters who have taken up arms against everything in which we believe!”
He cited Johnson’s comment and added, “In other words, DHS knows nothing, and they probably just let 40 more Tsarnaev brothers to roam across the USA free as they please.”
At the Western Journalism Center, James Beattie reported that James Clapper, the U.S. National Intelligence director, referred to the returning jihadis last month.
And Western Journalism reported, “Clapper was not the first U.S. official to make the statement, however. Former Rep. Tim Bishop, D-N.Y., confirmed what Stahl asked Johnson about during a speech last September.
“One of the concerns is the number of U.S. citizens who have left our country to go join up with ISIS,” Bishop said. “It is believed there have been some number up to 100 that have done that. It is also believed that some 40 of those who left this country to join up with ISIS have now returned to our country.”
It was reported only weeks ago that a group affiliated with ISIS had released a list of addresses that belong to 100 U.S. military service members.
The list of locations was accompanied by a call for their beheadings.
At about that same time came a report that Egypt was warning it had intelligence indicating a jihadist group is planning a worldwide offensive this spring or summer that could reach targets within the U.S.
Interrogations of ISIS members captured in recent weeks in the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula and information collected by Egyptian security forces indicate ISIS is planning ground offensives this spring and summer aimed at taking over more territory across the Middle East and Persian Gulf, a senior Egyptian intelligence official told WND.
Some of the information indicates the new offensive will not be limited to the Arab world. Timed to coincide with its planned surge, ISIS is plotting possible attacks using cells abroad.
ISIS and its jihadist allies could activate cells to carry attacks in Europe and possibly within the U.S., the senior Egyptian official warned.
The official advocated the deployment of significant ground troops acting on multiple fronts to stop ISIS’ progression. He complained the Obama administration and international community has been hesitant to take major action against ISIS advances.
There have been numerous claims of ISIS cells embedded in the U.S.
Recently, Michael Steinbach, head of the FBI’s counter-terrorism division, was asked by CNN whether or not there are ISIS cells in the U.S.
Steinbach said there are “individuals that have been in communication with groups like [ISIS] who have a desire to conduct an attack,” and those people are living in the U.S. right now.
He conceded the FBI finds it extremely difficult to track every American traveling abroad who can join ISIS or receive training by foreign terrorist organizations.
“I’m worried about individuals that we don’t know about that have training,” Steinbach said. “We know what we know. But there is a number that’s greater than that that we don’t know.”
“Once you get to Europe, you can easily get down to Turkey and into Syria,” he noted.
WND also reported the FBI is opening up cases of suspects who may be tied to ISIS in 49 states.
“We are focused keenly on who would be looking to travel to join this band of murderers who will have come back from Iraq and Syria and to the United States,” said FBI Director James Comey in a speech to law enforcement officers in Mississippi.
“We have opened cases all over the place focused on this threat, so it is not … a Washington thing – it is something we focus on throughout the FBI,” Comey said.