OTR Interviews

U.N. report: Unprecedented number of foreigners joining terror groups

New report says foreign fighters from 80 countries are joining terror groups, suggesting that the threat of domestic terrorism is only on the rise

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 31, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: This is alarming. A new U.N. report finding foreign fighters are joining terrorist groups on an unprecedented scale, 15,000 in Syria and Iraq alone. The foreigners are coming from 80 different countries.

That means the threat of terrorism here in the United States is rising. Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton joins us. Good evening, sir.

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER U.N. AMBASSADOR: Glad to be with you.

VAN SUSTEREN: I don't know if you are a real big fan of the U.N. typically, but this report is pretty comprehensive and pretty terrifying.

BOLTON: Well, it is. It's very interesting. It's compiled by a group of experts for the U.N. Security Council pursuant to previously adopted Security Council resolutions. And it intends to survey where terrorists are coming from and what their strength is. And you mentioned some of the key points, 80 different countries. And specifically, I think what's of most interest here is that they estimate that something like 15,000 terrorists from Europe and the United States and the west are fighting now with ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Now, these are estimates. It is a U.N. report. But these are numbers significantly higher than the Obama administration or Western European governments have used. And it leads to the question, what happens when these people repatriate themselves back to their home countries? And those kinds of numbers, that's a potential grave problem.

VAN SUSTEREN: I will tell you what struck me is that, -- here, let me read from the summary. The first nine months of 2014 have seen a rise in the threat from al-Qaeda, movement as a whole. Al-Qaeda and its associates continue to pose a threat to the lives of ordinary people. It goes on to talk about the movement. Then down below says core al-Qaeda has not been extinguished. Here is the problem: Back in 2012, I remember President Obama speaking at the Democratic National Convention. I mean, he pretty much at least as I recall, his memory may be faulty, said they were on the run. This report doesn't say they are on the run. It says that they are growing.

BOLTON: Right. Well, you know, actually, the report agrees with the Director of National Intelligence General James Clapper who basically testified to the same effect in open session in congress earlier this year. He said the terrorist threat from al-Qaeda and all of its loose affiliates was equal two or greater than what we saw before 9/11 in 2001. So I think that this is another piece of evidence that says the war on terror is not over.

And the notion that we can just say oh, that stuff is so far away and act like it's not going to effect us, we can't ignore. I think it underlines why Taliban and al-Qaeda potentially taking back over in Afghanistan when the president withdraws American forces next year. If ISIS is allowed to continue and to consolidate control over the vast territory used to be Iraq and Syria, it becomes even greater magnet for jihadists that as you say, the threat is definitely growing.

VAN SUSTEREN: Ambassador, thank you, sir.

BOLTON: Thank you.