During a recent visit to Israel, I found military officers focused intently on Syria — where, they said, there are now about 5,000 jihadis. These are not Muslim Brotherhood types, but fighters in Jabhat al-Nusra (listed by the United States last December as an international terrorist organization) and other Sunni jihadi groups linked to al-Qaeda.
The key concern, the Israelis said, is where the jihadis go after Assad falls. Do they stay on in Syria to fight any Alawite militias that may appear? Do they go west to Lebanon, to fight the Shiite group Hezbollah? South to try to cross into the Golan, and fight the Israeli army? Or east into Iraq, to fight as Sunnis against the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Maliki — which the Israelis saw as perhaps the most likely outcome?
But there is another possible outcome: that the jihadis go to Europe to commit acts of violence and terror there. Why would hundreds of them possibly go to Europe? Because they came from Europe.