Never mind ISIS – there’s yet another terror group to worry about. Khorasan, closely linked to al Qaeda, is thought by some American officials to present even more of a threat than ISIS, which is why Pentagon spokesperson Rear Admiral John Kirby said the group was targeted in Syria last night by strikes from the U.S. and several Middle East partners.
Khorasan is not after huge swaths of land in Iraq, Syria or elsewhere in the Middle East. It wants another 9/11.
The members of this Syria-based group are from Pakistan, Yemen and Afghanistan. The group is creating a new sense of urgency among intelligence experts, lawmakers and others because it’s combining “the threat of Western imports” into this country with the “threat of advanced bomb-making,” CBS News reports.
This terror group’s leader is a 33-year-old named Muhsin al-Fadhli, who was “barely more than a boy [of] 19 when the September 11, 2001 attacks occurred,” though even then he was one of the few top commanders who knew about the terror plot in advance, The Washington Post is reporting. In 2012, the State Department identified him as an al Qaeda leader in Iran, the country he subsequently left for Syria.
James R. Clapper, Jr., the director of national intelligence, said late last week that “in terms of threat to the homeland, Khorasan may pose as much of a danger as ISIS,” The New York Times reported.
The group’s “repeated efforts to conceal explosive devices to destroy aircraft demonstrate its continued pursuits of high-profile attacks against the West, its increasing awareness of Western security procedures and its efforts to adapt to those procedures that we adopt,” Nicholas Rasmussen, deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said recently, according to The Independent.
Khorasan is believed to be developing new plots targeting aircraft in this country because they see the aviation industry “as a symbol of the West,” former CIA deputy director Mike Morell said on CBS This Morning recently.
“The fear is that U.S. and European passport holders could more easily smuggle explosives onto airplanes,” reports CBS News, which adds:
At two dozen foreign airports, U.S.-bound passengers are undergoing enhanced security screening. Agents are searching for hidden explosives. Laptops and phones with dead batteries have been banned from flights. Great Britain raised its national terror threat level, and the FBI is tracking American jihadists who may return home. Sources say it’s due to the emerging threat in Syria, where hardened terrorists loyal to al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri are working on new, hard-to-detect bombs.
Former president George W. Bush mentioned Fadhli by name during a speech in Brussels in February 2005 when he was thanking European countries for their counterterrorism assistance. Bush said, “Just last week, the United Nations added Muhsin al-Fadhli to its al Qaeda and Taliban sanctions committee list."
He continued, "This man is a known al Qaeda operative and Zarqawi associate; provided support to the terrorists who conducted the 2002 bombing of a French oil tanker. Working together, America, France and other nations will bring him to justice. For the sake of the security of our people, for the sake of peace, we will be relentless in chasing down the ideologues of hate.”
This article was updated at 8:30 a.m.
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