| WASHINGTON, July 13
WASHINGTON, July 13 U.S. Attorney General Eric
Holder said he is concerned fighters from Europe and the United
States who are supporting violent insurgents in the Syrian civil
war are joining forces with Yemeni bomb makers.
"In some ways, it's more frightening than anything I think
I've seen as attorney general," Holder said on ABC's "This
Week," broadcast on Sunday.
U.S. intelligence agencies estimate around 7,000 of the
23,000 violent extremists operating in Syria are foreign
fighters, mostly from Europe.
Holder, who last week met with European justice ministers in
London, said the worry is not only about the actions of foreign
fighters in Syria, but when they return to their home countries.
Extremists have tried to recruit Westerners and send them
back home with a mission. U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh
Johnson has said Syria has become a matter of homeland security.
The FBI has dozens of investigations under way on American
fighters who have gone to Syria and made their way home, Holder
Intelligence that bomb makers in Yemen have been joining
forces in Syria with the foreign fighters is particularly
concerning, he added.
"That's a deadly combination, where you have people who have
the technical know-how along with the people who have this kind
of fervor to give their lives in support of a cause that is
directed at the United States and directed at its allies,"
Holder said in the interview that was recorded last week.
A Nigerian man who attempted to detonate explosives on a
flight from Amsterdam to Michigan in 2009, and who became known
as the underwear bomber, was linked to an extremist group that
operates in Yemen.
Last week, Holder urged countries in Europe and elsewhere to
do more to keep their citizens from traveling to Syria to fight,
saying they could learn from U.S. efforts to conduct undercover
Holder said Sunni extremists flowing into Iraq from Syria
who have seized towns in the North do not yet represent a threat
to the West. But that could change.
"If they are able to consolidate their gains in that area, I
think it's just a matter of time before they start looking at
the West and at the United States in particular," he said.
Earlier this month, a Denver woman accused of trying to fly
to Syria to support insurgents there was arrested in the United
States, and last month two men in central Texas were arrested on
One of the Texas men was charged with "attempting to provide
material support to terrorists," violating a law that Holder
urged other countries to copy.
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Jim Loney and Cynthia