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The Khorasan Group

U.S. Attacks Al-Qaeda Offshot Operating in Syria

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When President Barack Obama announced in September 2014 that he would "degrade and destroy" the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), he did not say the U.S. planned to target another group in Syria that posed a threat to the U.S. and Europe. It wasn't until after the strikes began in Syria that he reported attacking the Khorasan Group, whose members make up "a network of seasoned Al Qaeda veterans" and are focused on attacking the U.S., according to the U.S. Central Command.

The U.S. attack thrust the group into the spotlight, but little is known about it. Led by Muhsin al-Fadhli, a Kuwaiti who was an adviser to Osama bin Laden, Khorasan has been operating under the radar out of Syria since sometime in 2013. Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri sent Fadhli to Syria to set up an operation to plan terrorist attacks on U.S. and European interests. Khorasan militants allied themselves with the Nusra Front, another al-Qaeda affiliate that is based in Syria and is fighting government troops. Most of Khorasan's fighters are from Pakistan and Afghanistan, and reports say that Fadhli answers to Zawahri.

—Beth Rowen