MOSCOW, September 21 (RIA Novosti) - Amid the United States" ongoing military campaign against the Islamic State (IS), US authorities have revealed threats to the West by a new Syrian group led by a senior operative from al-Qaeda who was once part of Osama bin Laden's inner circle, The New York Times reported, citing intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
"In terms of threat to the homeland, Khorasan may pose as much of a danger as the Islamic State," the director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., was quoted as saying by the newspaper on Saturday.
US officials stated that the group, Khorasan, emerged this past year in Syria and is headed by Muhsin Fadhli who was allegedly part of a small group that knew of the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001 before they were launched. According to the newspaper, the group is comprised of al-Qaeda operatives from across the Middle East, South Asia, and North Africa and could pose an immediate threat to the United States and Europe. Names of the group's members, excluding Fadhli, are currently unknown.
The State Department identified Fadhli as al-Qaeda's leader and sponsor in 2012, claiming he directed "the movement of funds and operatives" through Iran. The United States offered a $7 million reward for any information concerning his whereabouts. The State Department also described Fadhli's ties with "jihadist donors" in Kuwait, who he cooperated with to raise money for al-Qaeda-allied rebels in Syria.
The IS has links to al-Qaeda, but the groups separated from each other in February 2014 due to disagreements in Syria when the IS claimed its control of Jabhat al-Nustra defying orders from al-Qaeda's leader, Ayman Zawahiri, according to Vox news.
The IS, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) or Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has been fighting the Syrian government since 2012. In June 2014, it launched an offensive in Iraq and seized vast areas in both countries, proclaiming an Islamic caliphate on its conquered territories.
Following the September 11 attacks on the United States, the US government overthrew the Taliban and hunted for Osama bin Laden who had gone into hiding finally killing bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 2, 2011.