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'Crisis in Syria: Implications for Homeland Security'

5:15 PM, Sep 10, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
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-       Al Qaeda has talent inside Syria today, including top operatives who currently pose a threat to the West.  According to credible press reports, a top al Qaeda terrorist named Mustafa Setmariam Nasar (a.k.a. Abu Musab al Suri) was freed from prison in the wake of the rebellion. Nasar has been tied to al Qaeda’s terrorist plotting inside Europe, including the networks that executed the 2004 Madrid train bombings and the 2005 attacks in London. Nasar played a prominent role in al Qaeda’s operations prior to being detained in 2005 and transferred to Syrian custody. Nasar is a widely influential jihadist thinker and a key advocate of small-scale terrorist attacks inside the West. He was reportedly freed by the Assad regime in the wake of the current rebellion. One of Nasar’s closest colleagues, known as Abu Khalid al Suri, was appointed by Zawahiri to a key position within the region. We should wonder what happened to Mohammed Zammar, an al Qaeda recruiter who helped convince the 9/11 Hamburg cell to travel to Afghanistan for training. Zammar was once imprisoned by the Assad regime and may very well be free today. In addition to this “old school” talent, al Qaeda has been recruiting Westerners who could be used in attacks against their home countries or elsewhere in the West. In recent months, European officials have openly worried about this possibility. 

-       Al Qaeda’s affiliates are seeking possession of chemical and biological weapons in Syria. On May 30, the Turkish press reported that an al Nusra Front cell had been arrested and was found to be in possession of about two kilos of sarin gas. The following day, June 1, Iraqi officials announced that they had broken up an al Qaeda cell that was seeking to launch sarin nerve gas attacks in Iraq, Europe and possibly North America. If the Iraqi government’s claims are accurate, then we already have evidence that al Qaeda’s affiliates in Iraq and Syria intend to use chemical weapons in an attack the West. I encourage the Homeland Security Committee to investigate these claims and ascertain for itself the extent of al Qaeda’s efforts in this regard.

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