In Syria: Fears of terrorism out of chaos
A rally in support of President Bashar al-Assad in Deir Zor, Syria
February 8th, 2012
06:00 AM ET

In Syria: Fears of terrorism out of chaos

By Suzanne Kelly

(CNN) - As the international community debates how to stop the bloodshed in Syria, intelligence experts are looking closely at possible terrorist scenarios that could occur should the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad go.

Among those scenarios is the question of whether terrorists could get their hands on Syria's weapons arsenal , which includes not only stockpiles of chemical and biological agents that have not been accounted for with the international community, but also a sophisticated anti-ship missile system as well as a small fleet of surface to surface missiles.

"If things continue to deteriorate in Syria, there are a number of scenarios in which proliferation becomes a risk," said Aram Nerguizian, visiting fellow at Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "The Syrians have been playing with chemical weapons capabilities for decades. By regional standards, you have a regionally mature chemical weapons system in Syria."

Syria has not only chemical weapons, according to Nerguizian, but also the means to deliver them via its long-range missile program.

Last year, the Russians delivered an anti-ship cruise missile system known as the "Yakhont." It delivers death at supersonic speed, and because of its ability to fly low-altitude, there isn't much warning to be had before it strikes its target. It's a viable threat to naval vessels, including parts of the Israeli fleet positioned within its range.

Israeli officials have been commenting on their concerns for weeks that weapons systems could be quietly slipped across the border into Lebanon and the waiting arms of Hezbollah.

The thought is also on the minds of Pentagon officials, who are considering worst case scenarios as Syrian politics play themselves out. "We are concerned about all chemical weapons and biological weapons stockpiles around the world. It's important to maintain the security of those stockpiles, including in Syria," said Pentagon spokesman George Little.

While Little says he's heard of no effort to deploy chemical or biological weapons in Syria, he says, "We certainly hope that measures are being taken inside Syria to ensure that they aren't used and that they are safeguarded."

Hope isn't very reassuring for a former intelligence official who worked in the region. Speaking anonymously because the majority of his work was done under cover, the former officer says the international community should be careful what it wishes for in Syria, because an uncontrolled removal of Assad could create vacuums among the factions that terror groups stand ready to exploit.

"There's a good chance that in the chaos, Hezbollah will have access to weapons. It would lead to a strengthened Hezbollah, and remember, they are already a formidable organization," said the former officer, who points to what happened in Libya as an example of weapons being moved across close borders, and into Mali, Egypt, and Sinai, as the Moammar Gadhafi regime fell.

Syria's political chaos could be a blessing for a number of groups looking for opportunities to arm themselves, including al Qaeda. While intelligence officials don't believe al Qaeda has a strong foothold in Syria the way it did in Libya, former FBI agent and terrorism expert Ali Soufan says there many other groups who could potentially exploit the situation.

"You cannot separate anything from anything. Terrorism usually happens because there are incubators that enable groups and individuals to take advantage of situations," said Soufan, who now runs The Soufan Group, which develops counterterrorism strategies for international clients. "In Syria, there are possible incubators, including the lack of unity among the opposition and so the potential for a power vacuum, there are regional actors with different national aims and outcomes they'd like to see, there is the potential for sectarian conflict, and so on. What we seeing today in Syria is a battle where all of these incubators are showing themselves."

If there is a silver lining, it is that all of these scenarios are still very much in the "if" column.

"It's still too soon," says Nerguizian. "A lot of the talk about Syria is that it's moments away, I think that's premature. You have a regime that has held onto power despite everyone's predictions that it was moments away from collapsing."

Barbara Starr and Kevin Flower contributed to this story.

Filed under: Assad • Intelligence • Pentagon • Syria • Terrorism • UN Security Council • United Nations
soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. pharmacepticacom

    is chloroquine phosphate over the counter

    June 16, 2021 at 1:39 pm | Reply
  2. storno brzinol

    I genuinely enjoy reading through on this internet site, it holds excellent articles.

    May 13, 2021 at 1:46 am | Reply
  3. Lavona Hurlston

    Once you have decided on the type of rocking chair, you will need to find the best one for your needs. A basic rocker typically has two sections with a rocker board between them. Each section of the rocker will move back and forth. You can choose from either a cast iron or plastic rocker depending on which one is best for your needs.

    May 1, 2021 at 3:05 pm | Reply
  4. aralen mexico

    chlooquine chloroquine phosphate medicine

    April 29, 2021 at 2:31 pm | Reply
  5. foxwoods casino best slot pay ouy macheans

    hit it rich! casino slots is available jackpot capital casino

    March 28, 2021 at 8:29 pm | Reply
  6. gcwin99

    Quality articles is the crucial to be a focus for
    the viewers to pay a visit the web page, that's what this web site is providing.

    March 28, 2021 at 2:26 am | Reply
  7. Tyler Danielian

    Just what I was looking for, thankyou for putting up.

    March 25, 2021 at 11:02 am | Reply
  8. hot vegas slots casino

    play casino games online free no downloading sandia resort and casino bingo

    March 23, 2021 at 11:56 pm | Reply
  9. zone online casino games

    no deposit bonus codes for desert nights casino jackpot casino community

    March 23, 2021 at 4:29 pm | Reply
  10. casino slots games free

    new york online casino double down casino promo codes

    March 22, 2021 at 11:45 pm | Reply
  11. meskwaki bingo casino & hotel tama ia

    doubleu casino games for free doubleu casino chips free

    March 21, 2021 at 6:34 am | Reply
  12. XRumerTest

    Hello. And Bye.

    March 21, 2021 at 5:02 am | Reply
  13. Megalis

    megalis 20 mg for male uses in hindi buy megalis canada

    March 12, 2021 at 6:27 pm | Reply
  14. cyclosporine

    cyclosporine eye drops cyclomune

    March 12, 2021 at 6:11 pm | Reply
  15. brimonidine

    brimonidine tartrate ophthalmic buy brimonidine online

    March 12, 2021 at 5:25 pm | Reply
  16. avana

    buy avanafil online avanafil

    March 12, 2021 at 5:24 pm | Reply
  17. Millard Coram

    March 4, 2021 at 9:57 am | Reply
  18. vreyro linomit

    I think this is among the most important info for me. And i'm satisfied studying your article. However wanna statement on few normal issues, The website taste is great, the articles is really nice : D. Excellent job, cheers

    February 26, 2021 at 2:17 am | Reply
  19. vreyro linomit

    I think other website proprietors should take this website as an model, very clean and great user genial style and design, let alone the content. You're an expert in this topic!

    February 25, 2021 at 8:57 am | Reply
  20. House Clearance Barry

    Wonderful blog! I found it while browsing on Yahoo News. Do you have any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo News? I've been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Thank you

    February 9, 2021 at 8:08 am | Reply

    Hello, you used to write fantastic, but the last few posts have been kinda boringK I miss your tremendous writings. Past several posts are just a little out of track! come on!

    February 9, 2021 at 4:42 am | Reply
  22. zithromax purchase

    is zithromax an antibiotic azithromycin for cellulitis

    February 8, 2021 at 8:18 am | Reply
  23. hydroxychloroquin

    does chloroquine work chloroquine tablets amazon

    February 8, 2021 at 7:20 am | Reply
  24. tadalafil 60 mg for sale

    what is tadalafil used for tidalafil

    February 8, 2021 at 7:16 am | Reply
  25. zortilo nrel

    You are my breathing in, I have few blogs and sometimes run out from post :). "Never mistake motion for action." by Ernest Hemingway.

    February 7, 2021 at 8:55 am | Reply
  26. Millie Blanko

    January 28, 2021 at 10:02 pm | Reply
  27. erectile dysfunction pills

    what erectile dysfunction drug works best
    erectile disorder symptoms
    top erectile dysfunction supplements

    November 27, 2020 at 3:47 pm | Reply
  28. Yvette

    You forgot the other part, and you must also know that vrcioty comes with patience, relief with affliction ease with hardship, knowledge with hard work so sow your seeds wisely for you shall reap what you shall sow.Somber 123

    April 7, 2012 at 12:46 am | Reply
  29. mipolitic

    well it is a mess in syria , but if iran is not dealt with , syria will look like pratice drill against the onslot of horrors that iran will leash upon the entire region, that result in a wide spead slaughter that will break through the doors of europe.
    russia is not the supporter of this , but rather one guy named putin. obama is taking polls instead of crushing the iranian threat. we need a firm wise resolve, not hollow words of hope from obama.

    February 8, 2012 at 10:05 am | Reply
    • Blaise

      I have. First of all, it has 100% free and high quality LIVE video. And of notnect, I have to say pretty fair and balanced. Easily more fair and balanced than Fox News. It\'s mostly guys with English accents. They sound British.

      April 4, 2012 at 10:47 am | Reply
  30. kamran

    Russian advise to Bashar Asad- Learn from snake: Is it a coincident to see the worse riots by army since ever in Syria right after Russian's visit? Don't Russians have a fame about them to invade countries with rootless attitudes, lately demonstrated in Chechnya and before that invading Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria and all of the eastern Europe, mercilessly, and now their best advise to Bashar Asad? Even Napoleon Bonaparte and Hitler with their entire armies couldn't pass through them. After all, what can we expect to learn from snake?

    February 8, 2012 at 8:35 am | Reply
  31. michaelfury

    ordo ab chao

    February 8, 2012 at 8:20 am | Reply
    • Centro

      [..YouTube..] Syria's fight is limited to the conruty itself. It would not surprise me if the entire nation is divided and supporters of the current regime do so only out of fear. Cut off money to syria, bankrupt their economie, and their leaders won't be able to hold their regime for long. They simply couldn't fund it anymore and collapse. This is the only way to do it, let syria free itself, no foreign military is needed, but blocking foreign aid to the regime is highly beneficial for the supports.17 November 2011, 14:03

      June 29, 2012 at 1:40 am | Reply

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.