February 17, 2012
Members of al-Qaeda have infiltrated Syrian opposition groups, and likely executed recent bombings in the nation’s capital and largest city, the United States’ top intelligence official said Thursday.
The remarks by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper are the most definitive to date from a senior Obama administration official on al-Qaeda’s efforts to insert itself into the Syrian uprising.
Two bombings in Damascus in December, as well as deadly attacks on security and intelligence buildings in Aleppo last week, “had all the earmarks of an al-Qaeda-like attack,” Clapper said, adding that the network’s affiliate in Iraq “is extending its reach into Syria.”
But Clapper suggested that al-Qaeda has so far not sought to call attention to its presence, and that its operatives may have slipped into groups of fighters opposed to the government of President Bashar al-Assad.