US intelligence officials today declined to reveal the estimated number of Americans who have successfully joined foreign terrorist organizations, including ISIL, and thereafter returned to the US with combat experience and terror skills. The reason given for the rejection is that neither the US intelligence agencies nor the state security services could reliably detect, identify and track Americans who defected to ISIL and are now back home.
The National Counterterrorism Center has disclosed that the number of Americans joining ISIL is increasing but they do not have the consistent intelligence on the specific identities of the would-be jihadists and the logistical infrastructure that enables them to find their way into ISIL bases in Iraq and Syria.
US intelligence officials have confirmed that more than 20,000 foreign jihadists from 90 different nations have joined ISIL and other jihadist organizations operating in the Middle East, with 3,400 jihadists coming from Europe and over 150 jihadists coming from the US. This points to a sharp increase from previous figures (released a few months ago) which showed that a dozen or so US citizens did join ISIL. Several intelligence officers have stated that the number of those who have returned to the US is classified.
US legislators have expressed deep concern over the fact that American intelligence agencies cannot stop the flow of would-be jihadists out of the nation into the Middle East, and the return of trained and experienced jihadists back to the US. Some security experts have also expressed concern that these returning jihadists could create a network of terrorist infrastructures within the US that will be able to communicate with Islamists located in the Middle East and other theaters of war thus engage in activities that will seriously imperil the national security.