Syria is top training ground for al Qaeda, Senate is told
March 6th, 2014
05:28 PM ET

Syria is top training ground for al Qaeda, Senate is told

By Jamie Crawford

High levels of sectarianism, carnage and the overall grinding nature of Syria's civil war continue to make that country a top destination for extremists, a top U.S. official said.

"Syria has become the pre-eminent location for al Qaeda-aligned groups to recruit, to train and to equip what is now a growing number of extremists, some of who seek to conduct external attacks," Matthew Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, told a congressional hearing on Thursday.

"From a terrorism perspective, the most disturbing element is that al Qaeda has declared Syria its most critical front," he said.

Olsen testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee alongside Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and Assistant Secretary of Defense Derek Chollet about the crisis in Syria and the ongoing standoff with Russia over the situation in Ukraine.
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Syria a 'top' concern for homeland security chief
February 26th, 2014
02:56 PM ET

Syria a 'top' concern for homeland security chief

By Jamie Crawford

 

The U.S. homeland security chief says chaos and instability in Syria remain a top concern for protecting the country from attack.

 

"I would say that for those of us in national security and homeland security in this government, this particular issue is at the top of the list or near the top of the list for us," Homeland Security Secretary told a congressional hearing on Wednesday.

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February 17th, 2014
05:13 PM ET

Iran nuclear deal commitments kept so far, U.S. official says

By Jamie Crawford

Iran is rolling back parts of its nuclear program and getting relief from sanctions in return as an interim agreement aimed at gauging Tehran's willingness to curb its nuclear ambitions appears to be working with global powers gearing up for talks on Tuesday to forge a long-term pact.

"So far everyone, both Iran and all of the rest of us who provided some very limited, targeted sanctions relief have kept their commitments," Wendy Sherman, a senior State Department official and lead negotiator for the United States on the Iran deal, told Wolf Blitzer on Monday in an interview on CNN's "The Situation Room."

Sherman, the under secretary for political fairs, spoke from Vienna where talks on a comprehensive accord between Iran, the United States, Germany and other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council are due to begin on Tuesday.
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Syria, al Qaeda: U.S. officials offer grim assessment
February 11th, 2014
02:39 PM ET

Syria, al Qaeda: U.S. officials offer grim assessment

By Jamie Crawford

A security vacuum over vast areas of Syria could allow extremists to access weapons of mass destruction, a top U.S. intelligence official said.

 
"The current instability in Syria presents a perfect opportunity for al Qaeda and associated groups," to acquire Syrian stockpiles of chemical weapons that are scheduled to be destroyed," Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told a Senate committee on Tuesday.

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U.S. steps up support for Iraq amid militant surge
February 5th, 2014
03:21 PM ET

U.S. steps up support for Iraq amid militant surge

Jamie Crawford

The defeat of resurgent Islamic militant groups in western Iraq requires increased support from the United States, according to members of Congress and the Obama administration.

 
"If we don't want to see Iraq with large swaths of territory under militant control, and we shouldn't, we must be willing to lend an appropriate hand," House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce said at a hearing on Wednesday.

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Obama administration: Iran deal 'not perfect'
February 4th, 2014
06:51 PM ET

Obama administration: Iran deal 'not perfect'

By Jamie Crawford

An interim agreement that freezes aspects of Iran's nuclear program is not ideal but is necessary to achieve a long-term accord, a senior Obama administration official said Tuesday.

"This is not perfect, but this does freeze and roll back their program in significant ways and give us time on the clock to in fact negotiate that comprehensive agreement," Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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