Homeland chief says Syria a U.S. domestic security concern
February 7th, 2014
04:59 PM ET

Homeland chief says Syria a U.S. domestic security concern

By Mike M. Ahlers

The Syrian civil war "has become a matter of homeland security" as authorities seek to identify any foreign fighters who might be a threat to the United States, the new homeland security secretary said Friday.

 
Jeh Johnson, making his first major address after seven weeks on the job, said Syria "was the Number One topic of conversation" in talks this week with his counterparts in six European nations.


"Based on our work and the work of our international partners, we know individuals from the U.S., Canada and Europe are traveling to Syria to fight in the conflict," he said at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

 
"At the same time, extremists are actively trying to recruit Westerners, indoctrinate them, and see them return to their home countries with an extremist mission," he added.

 
The comments mirror concerns expressed by other Obama administration officials that young Americans, lured by radical Internet websites, would go to fight in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and other hotspots, and would then return and conduct attacks in the United States.

 
Johnson said his agency, the FBI and the intelligence community are trying to identify foreign fighters who represent a threat to the homeland.

 
Separately, Johnson said his agency is "keeping a close eye on the Sochi Olympics" in support of Russian authorities.
He noted Thursday's Transportation Security Administration ban of toothpaste, liquids, gels and aerosols on flights between the United States and Russia.

 
He also repeated his call for comprehensive immigration reform.

 
"As a matter of homeland security, we should encourage these people to come out of the shadows of American society, pay taxes and fines, be held accountable, and be given the opportunity to get on a path to citizenship like others," he said. "This is not rewarding people for breaking the law; it is giving them the opportunity to get right with the law. And it is preferable to what we have now."

 
Based on comments off Capitol Hill on Thursday, prospects for passing a comprehensive immigration bill this year remain in doubt.

 
Johnson also told of visiting the Port Isabel Detention Center near Brownsville, Texas, where he saw about 1,000 people being detained.

 
About 18 percent were Mexican and the others represented more than 30 different nationalities who migrated through Mexico to get to the United States, he said.

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Filed under: Homeland Security • Syria
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. John Smith

    America is the root of all terror. America has invaded sixty countries since world war 2.
    In 1953 America overthrow Iran's democratic government Mohammad Mosaddegh and installed a brutal dictator Shah. America helped Shah of Iran to establish secret police and killed thousands of Iranian people.
    During Iran-Iraq war evil America supported Suddam Hossain and killed millions of Iranian people. In 1989, America, is the only country ever, shot down Iran's civilian air plane, killing 290 people.
    In 2003,America invaded Iraq and killed 1,000,000+ innocent Iraqi people and 4,000,000+ Iraqi people were displaced.
    Now America is a failed state with huge debt. Its debt will be 22 trillion by 2015.

    February 12, 2014 at 10:14 pm | Reply
  2. emil kaiypov

    My name is Emil Kaiypov. I am a citizen of the Kyrgyz Republic, a lawyer, and a father of two children. The proposal for which I am asking your kind support is the suspension of all currently existing hostilities on Earth.

    The main goal of my entire project is to save and improve the lives of children who are suffering from the present conflicts and violence.

    The challenge is to create a moment of "pause" [a technical term from video language] in hostilities now and in the future, as well as to refusal to restart them at all. I believe that in this context, such "pause" in the war action seems do-able and practical, much more effective than the idealistic and utopian pressing of an imaginary "stop" button. In the future the first action will equate to the second: "pause" will become "stop". In order to alert the international community and potential supporters, I made a demonstration of my own at 18 October 2013 on the territory of Syrian embassy in Beirut, with poster "pause the war".

    The purpose of this demonstration, is to show through an example that:

    1) one person has the power to perform an action directed to the benefit of all mankind.

    2) no one should be indifferent, when war is concerned.

    3) war requires us to drop everything else, in order to stop it. Daily activities, against the background of war, look meaningless and empty.

    I believe, that this idea will resonate and supporters will wish to join it. The age of information technologies, will help to spread it around the globe. Definitely there will be supporters among the world's famous celebrities. In the event that a large number of ordinary people and celebrities join this campaign, the dream to stop all military actions on the planet will be realized. This will serve as an occasion to announce the call for volunteers in the "international army of peace". It will consist of unarmed "soldiers" who are ready at any time, to go to the hot spot to "pause" the hostilities with the fact of their presence and to encourage the warring parties to engage in dialogue. Ideally, this army should consist of a world-famous and beloved celebrities from all spheres of human activities.

    I suggest that countries be ready to support my initiative, in solidarity, by placing on the cloth of their national flags, the well-known pause symbol "II". I believe that in the course of implementation of this anti-war action, the reasons for which the suspended armed conflict began, will be resolved or continued in a civilized manner. This anti-war action will bring about a new peaceful reality, when there will be no state left, which "international army of peace" had not visited.

    The termination of all hostilities, will become the point of departure for further continuous progress in all directions.

    We are able to bring about the time, when the world will be fairly managed by a workable international organization which will be trusted by all citizens of the earth. When this happens, all kinds of weapons will be transferred to international United Nations control, the purpose of which, will be the preservation of peace and sustainable development of mankind.

    We live in a world, when the collective effort makes possible the colonizing of other planets in the foreseeable future. I believe, that we have enough strength and resources for the child born tomorrow to see a world, where uniform international standards of education, labor, pension and medical care, will be established everywhere. A world, where the primary human needs will be satisfied for free.

    A world, where nobody talks about freedom, because absolute freedom will accompany each person from the moment of birth, to his last breath. A world, where the happiness and freedom of the individual, will not happen in isolation but will include freedom and happiness of all of humanity. A world without war.

    A world without war is undisputed goal, that sooner or later humanity will definitely reach. It is the primary duty of every adult to fulfill a "world in peace"– everyone’s childhood dream. Every child surrounded by the horrors of war dreams that one day somebody will come and say "It is enough!" and by saying it bring war to an end. Then war will stop. That day has come! It's time to combine our efforts in order to make that dream come true.

    February 11, 2014 at 2:13 am | Reply
  3. Michael B

    Go ahead any politician that wants to keep his job, go ahead and vote for force to be used in Syria. This person will know the meaning of unemployment too. So go right ahead it isnt our problem.

    February 10, 2014 at 5:05 pm | Reply
  4. maggie

    when the chemical weapon thing happened I wanted U.S. to use laws already on books to go after syria's chemical weapons, and to also become a presence in Syria, now that Syria is not cooperating, I think the powers that be need to go in and quickly smack down what is left of Assad's regime....because they are just going to hang ion to the bitter end.
    don't negotiate with Assad. He's a Liar and totally unreliable.

    February 10, 2014 at 3:49 pm | Reply
  5. bitty31985

    And yet the Obama administration just did what?! "Direct Quote

    "US eases restrictions for asylum seekers who gave ‘limited’ support to terror groups"

    And we're supposed to trust this Government. I'm thinking of a Beastie Boys song, can anyone guess what is it?

    SABBOTAGE...

    February 10, 2014 at 10:03 am | Reply
  6. George patton

    Exactly what does this idiot Jeh Johnson take us for anyway? Does he really think that we were born yesterday? Syria has absolutely nothing to do with our national security anymore than Iraq or Afghanistan. The politicians in Washington get us into these obscene wars in order to gain votes and fatten up their bank accounts and that's all there is to it!!!

    February 8, 2014 at 10:39 am | Reply
  7. Random

    The worlds intel services are all working sochi , seems like Assad would be doing the world a favor to take advantage and thin out the jihadi lines. Like him or not, his country and the christian syrians who call it home are under attack by aq and islamic jihadi's . All those persons leaving our country to go fight his war means is they are in the crosshairs. Assad should turn over the chemicals, and crush the jihadi strongholds with reasonable means. He can't give any reason to question the deal.

    February 8, 2014 at 4:19 am | Reply
    • Random

      If this guy can explain how we lose, how we are morally offended , if Assad defends the christians who never took up arms till their houses and churches got mobbed and burned, who now fight for their lives with Assad?
      We know he is fighting 'extremist' 'jihadist' 'AQ' ISIS....
      We know neither side is innocent, but the extremist kill innocents even attack allies
      we know the actual syrians fighting assad pale in comparison to the outside fighters. It is not a revolution but an invasion.

      What would we do under that situation. What would we even do with our fema camps , and billions of rounds of ammo if it WAS our own people rioting and 'rebelling' ? I know the answer, do the people suggesting we arm the 'rebels' ?

      Let assad slaughter the extremist invaders.

      February 8, 2014 at 4:34 am | Reply
  8. sjdsh

    Obama administration officials that young Americans, lured by radical Internet websites, would go to fight in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and other hotspots, and would then return and conduct attacks in the United States.
    -Like Boston? Alciada on the move...watch out murikans, sounds like a plan.

    February 8, 2014 at 1:47 am | Reply

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