U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder has really ramped up his anti-terrorism rhetoric, his degree of concern becoming much more tangible given the developments in Syria and Iraq recently. He gave a speech last week and spoke to ABC News over the weekend on his increasing unease with the situation.
“U.S. intelligence officials estimate that nearly 23,000 violent extremists are currently operating in Syria,” said Holder in a speech encouraging international cooperation on terrorism. “Among these are over 7,000 foreign fighters — among whom are dozens of Americans, a number that is growing … and because our citizens can freely travel, visa-free, from the U.S. to Norway and other European states — and vice versa — the problem of fighters in Syria returning to any of our countries is a problem for all of our countries,” he said.
Of particular concern has been news that the group of bomb makers involved in the underwear bomb plot in 2009 have re-emerged. The 2009 plot involved an al-Qaeda member, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who nearly succeeding in triggering a bomb sewn into his underwear while flying on a Northwest Airlines flight of nearly 300 people. The design for the bomb was done by a group of Yemeni bomb makers who may now be working with Syrian militants. According to ABC, some reports describe bombs that could be hidden in a cellphone or computer and that would be difficult to detect.
Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson announced July 2 in a statement that he had asked the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to “implement enhanced security measures in the coming days at certain overseas airports with direct flights to the United States.” He noted that “aviation security includes a number of measures, both seen and unseen, informed by an evolving environment.”