Key Figure in Al-Qaeda Offshoot Killed in Syria

Pentagon says an airstrike in Syria has killed Muhsin al-Fadhli, a key figure in the Khorasan terrorist group.

Ben Ariel ,

Muhsin al-Fadhli
Muhsin al-Fadhli

An American airstrike in Syria has killed a key figure in the Khorasan terrorist group, an offshoot of Al-Qaeda, the Pentagon said Tuesday, according to The Associated Press (AP).

Muhsin al-Fadhli was killed in a July 8 air attack while traveling in a vehicle near Sarmada, Syria, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said in a statement.

Davis did not further elaborate on the nature of the air strike, such as whether al-Fadhli was killed by a drone or a piloted aircraft.

Al-Fadhli was a leader of Khorasan, a cadre of Al-Qaeda operatives who were sent from Pakistan to Syria to plot attacks on the West. Officials say the Khorasan Group is embedded in the Al-Nusra front, Syria's Al-Qaeda affiliate.

Previously based in Iran, al-Fadhli was the subject of a $7 million reward by the State Department for information leading to his capture or death. He had been falsely reported as having been killed last fall, noted AP.

Al-Fadhli was involved in October 2002 attacks against U.S. Marines on Faylaka Island in Kuwait and on the French ship MV Limburg, Davis said.

"His death will degrade and disrupt ongoing external operations of Al-Qaeda against the United States and our allies and partners," he added.

American intelligence has listed Khorasan as a danger even greater than Al-Qaeda, saying it has threatened terrorist attacks in America and Europe, and specifically threatened to target international commercial airlines.

Officials have said that the Khorasan terrorists were sent to Syria by Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to recruit Europeans and Americans whose passports allow them to board a U.S.-bound airliner with less scrutiny from security officials, according to AP.

Classified American intelligence assessments say the Khorasan jihadists have been working with bomb-makers from Al-Qaeda's Yemen affiliate to test new ways to slip explosives past airport security.

Officials feared Khorasan would provide these sophisticated explosives to their Western recruits who could sneak them onto U.S.-bound flights, according to AP.

Al-Fadhli was originally thought to have been killed in an airstrike in September of 2014, but those reports turned out to be false.