"There is a risk of extremist elements in Syria taking advantage of the permissive environment to develop external attack plans, including against Western targets," said the report.
"Large numbers of radicalized individuals have been attracted to the country, including significant numbers from the U.K. and Europe," said the report. "They are likely to acquire expertise and experience which could significantly increase the threat posed when they return home. Furthermore, there is growing concern about the risks around extremist groups in Syria gaining access to regime stocks of chemical weapons."
The British report noted that the "Syrian regime possesses vast stockpiles' of chemical weapons, and fretted these could fall into the hands of terrorists if the regime fell.
"The Chief of SIS (the Secret Intelligence Service) noted the risk of 'a highly worrying proliferation around the time of regime fall,'" said the British report. "There has to be a significant risk that some of the country's chemical weapons stockpile could fall into the hands of those with links to terrorism, in Syria or elsewhere in the region -- if this happens, the consequences could be catastrophic."
At a March 7, 2012 hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., noted reports that Syria had "the biggest chemical weapon arsenal in the world," and that 20,000 man-portable anti-aircraft missiles had disappeared from Libya during the revolution there. She asked then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta how he compared the situation in Libya to that in Syria.
"I think it's a hundred times worse than what we dealt with in Libya," said Panetta, "and ... that's why it's raised even greater concerns about our ability to address how we can secure those [chemical weapons] sites."
A Congressional Research Service report about Syria's chemical weapons published on Aug. 20, footnoted a CNN report, in stating: "The Pentagon has estimated that it would take over 75,000 troops to neutralize the chemical weapons [in Syria]."
Both the Assad regime and al-Qaida are evil. Obama says he wants the Assad regime out, but vows he will put no boots on the ground in the military action he intends to take to punish that regime for using chemical weapons.
If the Assad regime is removed -- as Obama intends -- whose troops will prevent its chemical weapons from being used by someone else somewhere else?
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