Syrian Conflict Putting Al Qaeda Militants Closer to Europe: UK
LONDON - The conflict in Syria has brought al Qaeda fighters closer to
Europe and in greater numbers than ever before, profoundly changing the
nature of the terrorism threat, Britain's top security official said on
Hundreds and possibly thousands of al Qaeda-linked people had been drawn to
the two-year-old uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said
Charles Farr, Director General of Britain's Office for Security and
"Syria is a very profound game-changer," Farr told a security conference in
London. "The blunt truth is there are more people associated with AQ (al
Qaeda) and AQ-associated organizations now operating in Syria than there
ever have been before that close to Europe.
"They are operating at an intensity which is unparalleled since the events
in Iraq in 2005/2006, in other words the peak of the Iraqi terrorist threat.
They are much closer to us, in much greater numbers, and fighting with an
intensity we have not seen before."
He later told Reuters hundreds and maybe thousands of people were involved,
but cautioned that not everyone going to Syria was an extremist, with some
seeking to join Western-backed rebels and others linking up with the al
Qaeda-linked Nusra Front because it was one of the most effective fighting
"Groups in Syria aspire to attack Europe and clearly in this chaotic
environment have both the capability and the means to do so using, amongst
others, returning foreign fighters who are coming back to Europe," he told
He also said the increasingly sectarian nature of the Syrian civil war meant
both prominent Sunni and Shi'ite figures were saying that fighting was a
"One of the effects of that is that it draws even more people into the
conflict," Farr said.
"You might not want to go to Syria to fight against the regime but you
certainly want to go to Syria if the fight is characterized as a fight
between Sunni and Shia."
He said the Syrian conflict had also drawn in Lebanon's Shi'ite guerrilla
group Hezbollah. Sponsored by Iran and fighting for Assad, Hezbollah was
"operating with an openness and an intensity we have not seen before," Farr
(Editing by Janet Lawrence)
(F)AIR USE NOTICE: All original content and/or articles and graphics in this
message are copyrighted, unless specifically noted otherwise. All rights to
these copyrighted items are reserved. Articles and graphics have been placed
within for educational and discussion purposes only, in compliance with
"Fair Use" criteria established in Section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976.
The principle of "Fair Use" was established as law by Section 107 of The
Copyright Act of 1976. "Fair Use" legally eliminates the need to obtain
permission or pay royalties for the use of previously copyrighted materials
if the purposes of display include "criticism, comment, news reporting,
teaching, scholarship, and research." Section 107 establishes four criteria
for determining whether the use of a work in any particular case qualifies
as a "fair use". A work used does not necessarily have to satisfy all four
criteria to qualify as an instance of "fair use". Rather, "fair use" is
determined by the overall extent to which the cited work does or does not
substantially satisfy the criteria in their totality. If you wish to use
copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use,' you
must obtain permission from the copyright owner. For more information go to:
THIS DOCUMENT MAY CONTAIN COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL. COPYING AND DISSEMINATION IS
PROHIBITED WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE COPYRIGHT OWNERS.