US Worries About Islamic Radicals Taking Control in Syria

So they've noticed, then?


WASHINGTON — U.S. intelligence officials are increasingly concerned that Al Qaeda and other radical Islamist groups could carve out a haven in Syria that will offer the kind of sanctuary they once enjoyed in northwestern Pakistan, current and former U.S. officials say.

Officials say a clandestine CIA program that provides rudimentary training and weapons to U.S.-backed politically moderate insurgents is unlikely to curb the growing strength of extremists among the opposition militias seeking to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Though the fighting remains limited to Syria, U.S. intelligence officials already are looking at worst-case scenarios if the country breaks into distinct government- and rebel-controlled enclaves. The alarm grew recently when militants from Al Nusra Front, an Al Qaeda affiliate considered the most capable and best-armed rebel force, and its allies seized a border crossing between Syria and Jordan near the Syrian city of Dara.