Tags: ISIS/Islamic State | Khorasan | ISIS | Syria | Airstrikes

Khorasan Group Has Eclipsed ISIS as Lead Target of US

By    |   Thursday, 25 Sep 2014 08:47 AM

In the course of its airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq, the Obama administration has shifted its focus to target a small offshoot of al-Qaida believed to be plotting an imminent terrorist attack on the United States.

According to The New York Times, military officials have zeroed in on destroying Khorasan, a group made up of roughly two dozen jihadists who have advanced bomb making capabilities. The president announced Tuesday that he had ordered an airstrike against the Syrian-based organization.

"We're vigilant about the potential for domestic-based violent extremism on an ongoing basis," said Jeh Johnson, secretary of Homeland Security, according to the Times.

The group is believed to have been orchestrated by al-Qaida's leader Ayman al-Zawahri and led by Muhsin al-Fadhli who established a base in Syria to train the small group of operatives in advanced bomb-making skills. Reports this week, however, suggested that al-Fadhli was killed in the latest airstrikes.

"Obama administration officials for years have boasted that the C.I.A.'s campaign of drone strikes in Pakistan has devastated al-Qaida's apparatus there, but the emergence of the Khorasan Group in Syria appears to indicate that Mr. Zawahri's authority and influence, however symbolic, endure in some corners of the universe of militant organizations," the Times said.

There are conflicting opinions among officials about how close Khorasan was to mounting an attack on the United States with some suggesting that no concrete plans have been developed, the Times reported.

Meanwhile, the group has refrained from developing propaganda and other public communications, making it more difficult for authorities to estimate its strength and track its plans.

"Actionable intelligence is really hard to get your hands on, and I suspect that's what really drove the timing of the strike," Bruce Riedel, a former C.I.A. analyst at the Brookings Institution, told the Times.

The group has strong links with the al-Nusra Front, a Syrian rebel organization that is al-Qaida's affiliate in the country.

"What core al-Qaida wanted was some forward-deployed people in Syria, which is an important battlefield for them because it is so close to Europe," Seth Jones, a terrorism expert at the RAND Corporation, told the Times.

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In the course of its airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq, the Obama administration has shifted its focus to target a small offshoot of al-Qaida believed to be plotting an imminent terrorist attack on the United States.
Khorasan, ISIS, Syria, Airstrikes
355
2014-47-25
Thursday, 25 Sep 2014 08:47 AM
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