US says air strike in Syria killed Khorasan leader

Pentagon says operation earlier this month killed Muhsin al-Fadhli as he travelled near Sarmada in Syria.

A senior al-Qaeda operative who reportedly was given advance notice of the September 11 attacks has been killed in an air strike in Syria, United States officials said.

Muhsin al-Fadhli, who the US says headed the so-called Khorasan group of al-Qaeda operatives, was killed in an air strike on July 8 as he travelled in a vehicle near Sarmada in Syria’s Idlib province, said Captain Jeff Davis, the Pentagon’s director of press operations.

“Al-Fadhli was the leader of a network of veteran al-Qaeda operatives, sometimes called the Khorasan Group, who are plotting external attacks against the United States and our allies,” Davis said in a statement.

“He was a senior al-Qaeda facilitator who was among the few trusted al-Qaeda leaders that received advanced notification of the September 11, 2001, attacks.  

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“Al-Fadhli was also involved in terrorist attacks that took place in October 2002, including against US Marines on Faylaka Island in Kuwait and on the French ship MV Limburg. His death will degrade and disrupt ongoing external operations of al-Qaeda against the United States and our allies and partners.”

It is not the first time that al-Fadhli has been reported killed by the US. Last September, US officials said they thought they had killed him in an air strike.

Al Jazeera’s Jamie McIntyre, reporting from Washington, said that officials were certain that al-Fadhli had been killed this time around.

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“They did not disclose how they have confirmed his identity, but said they were highly confident [he was killed],” he said, adding that there had been a $7m bounty on al-Fadhli’s head.

US officials have described Khorasan as a particularly menacing faction of armed fighters who have been using their sanctuary in Syria to try to organise plots to attack US and other Western targets, possibly including airliners.

But Abu Mohammed al-Golani, leader of the Nusra Front group in Syria, denied that the Khorasan group existed in a recent interview with Al Jazeera.

“There is nothing called Khorasan group. The Americans came up with it to deceive the public. They claim that this secret group was set up to target the Americans but this is not right,” he said.

Source: Al Jazeera