Outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder said hunting American jihadists is a priority for the Justice Department, which has held “dozens” of investigations into potential radicals and identified 12 individuals who have traveled abroad.
Outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder speaks at the Voting Rights Brain Trust event, Sept. 26, 2014, during the 2014 Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference in Washington. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)
“Our estimate now is there probably are about 12 people, about a dozen people or so that are in Syria, Iraq area,” Holder told CNN.
Iraq and Syria are primarily the combat areas for the Islamic State militant group.
Holder, among the most controversial figures in the Obama cabinet, will be leaving his post after President Barack Obama nominates and the Senate confirms his successor.
Holder said the Justice Department is not limiting its investigations to the 12 Americans who went to the Middle East.
“We have dozens of investigations that are underway about other people who have either gone or are planning to go,” Holder said. “So this is something that is a priority for us on, at the Justice Department and at the FBI, working in conjunction with our U.S. attorneys, where we're trying to engage in preventive activities as well.”