Syria Travel Bans Augment Local Threat


Western government efforts to prevent extremists from traveling to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are having the unintended consequence of increasing the threat to local targets, specifically law enforcement. Since last fall, Western ISIS sympathizers have attacked law enforcement officers in their home countries after they were denied travel to Syria; other would-be travelers have stated to authorities that they would shoot officers at home if they could not reach Syria.

  • Since September, there have been four successful attacks against law enforcement in Western nations, including in October against New York City police officers. In January, an ISIS video repeated an earlier message by the group’s spokesman urging followers in the West to attack police, military, and other government personnel if they could not reach Syria.
  • In January, two men from Brooklyn were arrested because they wanted to fight for ISIS abroad. The men told authorities their alternative plan was to launch domestic attacks against law enforcement, to include killing FBI agents.
  • In October, an individual who judged he would not be able to leave Canada for Syria killed a soldier outside the National War Memorial in Ottawa. A month earlier, a known terror suspect in Australia stabbed counterterrorism officers during a meeting to discuss with them his passport’s cancellation because of suspicious activity.

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