Khorasan Group targeted by US in Syria a special unit of al-Qaida

Jenan Moussa of Dubai-based Alaan TV gathered exclusive images and documents from the bombed headquarters of the so-called Khorasan Group in Aleppo.

October 1, 2014 19:26
2 minute read.
Nusra Front

A Nusra Front stronghold bombed by the Americans in Syria. (photo credit: YOUTUBE SCREENSHOT)

A Dubai-based Arab TV station reported that the Khorasan Group cited by US President Barack Obama as a target of US bombing last week in Syria is really a special unit, called Wolf, of al-Qaida’s Syrian branch, the Nusra Front.

Jenan Moussa of Dubaibased Alaan TV gathered exclusive images and documents from the bombed headquarters of the so-called Khorasan Group in Aleppo.

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Based on the evidence, the report concludes that besides the Wolf unit, there were other foreign fighters of Nusra Front staying at the compound.

A paper with 14 names on it was found, 13 of whom are mentioned as part of the Nusra Front “Wolf unit.”

The naming of the Khorasan Group has created debate among experts, some claiming that there has never been evidence of such a distinct group, and that it is probably just a cell of al-Qaida in Syria.

US officials have described Khorasan as a network of seasoned al-Qaida fighters, with battlefield experience mostly in Pakistan and Afghanistan, that is now working in league with the Nusra Front.

“Khorasan” is a term for an area including parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan where al-Qaida’s main council is believed to be in hiding.

“I’d certainly never heard of this group while working at the agency,” Aki Peritz, a CIA counterterrorism analyst until 2009, told Time magazine.

“If senior members from a company’s headquarters go to work in a branch office, are they still part of the main office or a super-empowered part of the branch?” Peritz asked.

Moussa, on Twitter, weighed in on the debate, asking on Wednesday, “Why did US make up name ‘Khorasan Group,’ [and] not just admit bombing Jabhat al-Nusra?” Abu Yusuf al-Turki, the leader of the unit and a Nusra Front sniper, was one of those killed in the American air strikes on the compound.

According to the names on the list, found by Alaan TV, four were Turks, two Egyptians, two Yemenites, two Tunisians, one Palestinian, one Serb, and one from the Caucasus.

Among the images, there is a military uniform, a destroyed vehicle, and books – some in Arabic and one in Turkish, titled Jurisprudence of Jihad.

There also is a tunnel located near the site.

A source told Alaan TV that 50 Nusra Front members were killed and 200 escaped. Three buildings were targeted at the compound, two villas, and a training camp. Seven other Nusra Front dwellings were not attacked.

The Americans killed no civilians at the site, sources said.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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