American jihadist talks to CBS News in Syria

Behind the lines with Western jihadis in Syri... 03:16

For Clarissa Ward's full report, watch the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley" tonight at 6:30 p.m. ET. Have questions for Clarissa? Join her for a Facebook chat today at noon ET.

American jihadists in Syria have been suicide bombers and front-line fighters, but what they haven't done -- until now -- is sit down with a journalist to explain why they joined the battle.

Western jihadist on why he fights 04:53

On Tuesday, Clarissa Ward introduced the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley" audience to former Dutch soldier Yilmaz, who traded his life in Holland to battle Bashar Assad's forces in Syria. Yilmaz also introduced Ward to a Somali-American jihadist from the United States.

Clarissa Ward speaks with Western jihadis in ... 03:27

He calls himself Ibn Zubayr, and he fights with Jabhat al-Nusra, an al Qaeda affiliate that was targeted by U.S. airstrikes in Syria just two weeks ago. Speaking to Ward, who sneaked into Syria to meet the fighters after months of negotiations, Zubayr warned that those airstrikes could lead to revenge attacks against America.

Ward asked Zubayr if he would ever participate in such an attack.

"No," he responded after a slight hesitation. "Even if I wanted to, I can't."

He can't, he said, because the U.S. government already knows who he is. Like Yilmaz, and in spite of his efforts to hide his identity, Zubayr has little hope of ever returning home.

The American readily and proudly admits to admiring the late leader of al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, and his views on what could happen in the U.S. homeland as a result of America's involvement in the Syrian war are chilling.

If there is an attack inside the U.S., the young man who grew up as a "normal kid" in the Midwest "wouldn't consider it a terrorist attack. If anything happened there, I would consider it a reaction."