American officials have increased security at government buildings and airports following the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. The United States Department of Homeland Security says the decision was not a reaction to a threat. But officials say they are worried about people who have fought in foreign wars and have returned to the United States. A top official in the Obama administration told VOA the government is watching those fighters, in his words, “very carefully, especially as we see signs of demoralization on the battlefield in Syria and Iraq.”
Jeremy Shapiro is a fellow with the Project on International Order and Strategy and the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution, a research group. He has been a policy planner at the State Department and an advisor to the secretary of state on American policy in North Africa and the Levant.
“Two to three thousand people have gone from Europe and the United States; the last numbers I heard -- that might be a few months old -- and, and roughly 50 percent of them have returned.”
Yousef Bartho Assidiq was once persuaded by extremists to join them. He spoke with VOA on Skype about the returning foreign fighters.
“Most of those who come home, apart from maybe a few, they are home actually to recruit more people.”
Experts believe 100 to 200 of the foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria are from the United States. But American intelligence officials have not yet said how many of them have returned.
I’m Christopher Cruise.
VOA Correspondent Jeff Seldin reported this story from Washington. Christopher Cruise wrote it for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in This Story
demoralization – n. a state of lost hope, courage or confidence
fellow – n. a member of a literary, academic, artistic or scientific organization
roughly – adv. not exactly but close in number, quality or meaning
recruit – v. to find suitable people and get them to join a company, an organization or the armed forces
Has anyone from your country travelled to Iraq or Syria to fight with extremists? If so, have any returned to your country? How do extremists recruit people in your country? Have you ever been contacted by a recruiter for a terrorist group? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the comments section.