Mike Groll, File, Associated Press
FILE - In this Sept. 23, 2014 file photo, FBI Director James Comey speaks at the FBI Albany Field Office in Albany, N.Y. The U.S. believes it has identified the British-accented masked man in the videos depicting the beheadings of two American journalists and a British aid worker, the FBI director says. Comey told reporters at the bureau’s headquarters he would not reveal the man’s name or nationality.

WASHINGTON — The FBI director says the U.S. believes there are about a dozen Americans fighting alongside extremist groups in Syria, not more than 100, an estimate that has been cited by government officials and lawmakers for months.

The 100 figure, however, has taken on an urban legend status over the past few months as the Obama administration makes its case for military action in Iraq and Syria.

FBI Director James Comey (KOH'-mee) says the "more than 100" figure refers to Americans who have gone to Syria and come back or have attempted to go and been arrested.

Comey also says the U.S. believes it has identified the masked man in the videos depicting the beheadings of two American journalists and a British aid worker. He declined to reveal the man's name.