While the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, continues to conquer and hold territory–expanding its influence–an al-Qaeda cell formed from Osama bin Laden’s operatives and bomb experts have emerged in Syria.
The cell goes by the name “Khorasan,” a name which The Long War Journal describes as a reference “to a region that encompasses large areas of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Iran.”
Its emergence has already impacted the way airport security is handled in “two dozen foreign airports” where flights to the United States take off. According to CBS News, the bomb-making skill of Khorasan members is forcing airport security to search for hidden explosives in cell phones and laptops. It has also resulted in a flight ban of such items “with dead batteries.”
Khorasan’s bomb-building expertise points to a stark tactical difference between it and ISIS. Not surprisingly, this leads to a strategy difference between the two groups, which presents a new problem for the United States, as well.
Whereas ISIS “is believed at present to be largely engulfed in its fight for territory”–a fight carried out through battlefield tactics, mass executions, and propaganda campaigns–Khorsasan has set its sights on U.S. aviation, where it wants a well-placed, undetectable bomb to cause chaos and death.
UPI reports that “Khorasan is believed to be developing plots against Western targets, especially aircraft, involving jihadists with U.S. and European passports.” And James Clapper, director of National Intelligence, says Khorasan already poses a threat against the homeland equal to that posed by ISIS.
In addition to targeting Western targets and aircraft, Fox News reports that Khorasan is trying to “link up” with another al-Qaeda affliate in Syria–the al-Nusra Front. This would provide a substantial number of fighters to complement Khorasan’s bomb-making expertise.
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