CIA Official Calls Syria Top Threat to U.S. Security


michael-morellThe Central Intelligence Agency’s second-in-command, Michael Morell, warned that Syria’s volatile mix of al-Qaeda extremism and civil war now poses the greatest threat to U.S. national security. The risk is that the Syrian government, which possesses chemical and other advanced weapons, collapses and the country becomes al-Qaeda’s new haven, supplanting Pakistan.

He said there are now more foreign fighters flowing into Syria each month to take up arms with al-Qaeda-affiliated groups than there were going to Iraq at the height of the war there. The Syrian government’s weapons “are going to be up for grabs and up for sale” as they were in Libya.

Morell outlined the top threats facing the U.S. in an interview before he ends 33 years with the agency on Friday. Second on his list was Iran, followed by the global al-Qaeda threat, North Korea, and cyberwarfare. In the case of Iran, he cited the merging of the regime’s nuclear ambitions with its desire to be a hegemonic power in the Middle East.

“I don’t remember a time when there have been so many national-security issues on the front burner as there are today,” he added.

{Andy Newscenter}