WASHINGTON — The U.S. believes there are about a dozen Americans fighting alongside extremist groups in Syria, not more than 100, as has been cited for months. That's not to say there is no concern about these other 88 or so Americans who officials say have been killed, arrested, traveled or attempted to travel to join the fight. But the U.S. only knows of about 12 who are currently in Syria fighting, FBI Director James Comey said Thursday.
The figure of 100 American militants joining the fight in Syria had been oft-repeated in recent months as the Obama administration made its case to the American public for military action in Iraq and Syria. "When I use a number of more than 100, that means people who have gone and come back, people who have attempted to go and we locked them up, people who have gone and stayed," Comey said during an interview with reporters at FBI headquarters. "The figure that I've been operating with is, ballparkish, a dozen still there fighting with terrorist groups." U.S. intelligence officials estimate there are about 15,000 foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria fighting with extremist groups, including ISIS. Officials long have been concerned that Americans are joining the fight. At least two Americans have been killed in the fighting, and at least 13 have been arrested.
- The Associated Press