Overview

Also known as:

Executive Summary:

On September 23, 2014, President Obama announced U.S. airstrikes against the Khorasan Group,“Statement by the President on Airstrikes in Syria,” U.S. Department of State, September 23, 2014, http://www.state.gov/p/nea/rls/rm/232045.htm. a terrorist cell in Syria that, according to Attorney General Eric Holder, had reached “the execution phase” of a plot against the United States.Francesca Chambers, “Khorasan Group Hit By U.S. Airstrikes Earlier This Week Was in the ‘Execution Stage of a Plot’ That Involved Putting Explosives Onto Aircraft Bound for Europe or the U.S.,” Mail Online, September 27, 2014, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2771687/Khorasan-group-U-S-air-strikes-earlier-week-execution-stage-plot-involved-putting-explosives-aircraft-bound-Europe-U-S.html.

No public official had mentioned the Syrian-based group by name before September 18, 2014,Francesca Chambers, “Khorasan Group Hit By U.S. Airstrikes Earlier This Week Was in the ‘Execution Stage of a Plot’ That Involved Putting Explosives Onto Aircraft Bound for Europe or the U.S.,” Mail Online, September 27, 2014, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2771687/Khorasan-group-U-S-air-strikes-earlier-week-execution-stage-plot-involved-putting-explosives-aircraft-bound-Europe-U-S.html. but U.S. officials have since disclosed information regarding earlier threats posed by the group, including a bomb threat from July 2014.Ken Dilanian and Eileen Sullivan, “Syrian Extremists May Pose More Direct Threat to US Than Islamic State,” Associated Press, September 13, 2014, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/al-qaidas-syrian-extremists-may-pose-bigger-threat-islamic-state/. According to Secretary of State John Kerry, the previously limited access to information about the group stems from a concerted effort on the U.S. government’s part to keep its successful monitoring a secret from Khorasan.“Kerry, Iraqi President Masum at U.N. on Iraq, ISIL, Syria,” U.S. Department of State, September 23, 2014, http://translations.state.gov/st/english/texttrans/2014/09/20140923308810.html#axzz3FNoTWCbI.

U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has said that, “in terms of threat to the homeland, Khorasan may pose as much of a danger as the Islamic State.Mark Mazzetti, Michael S. Schmidt, and Ben Hubbard, “U.S. Suspects More Direct Threats Beyond ISIS,” New York Times, September 20, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/21/world/middleeast/us-sees-other-more-direct-threats-beyond-isis-.html. According to former director of the National Counterterrorism Center Michael Leiter, Khorasan is in fact “more of a threat to the U.S. homeland than ISIS.“ISIS Isn’t Alone: Khorasan Group May Pose Bigger Threat to U.S.,” NBC News, September 23, 2014, http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/isis-terror/isis-isnt-alone-khorasan-group-may-pose-bigger-threat-u-n209586. Leiter says that “[u]nlike ISIS, the Khorasan group’s focus is not on overthrowing the Assad regime. These are core al Qaeda operatives who… are taking advantage of the Syrian conflict to advance attacks against Western interests.“ISIS Isn’t Alone: Khorasan Group May Pose Bigger Threat to U.S.,” NBC News, September 23, 2014, http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/isis-terror/isis-isnt-alone-khorasan-group-may-pose-bigger-threat-u-n209586.

A statement released by the U.S. State Department has described the Khorasan group as “a network of al-Nusrah Front and al-Qai'da core violent extremists who share a history of training operatives, facilitating fighters and money, and planning attacks against U.S. and Western targets.““‘One and the Same’? Officials Give Conflicting Statements on Al Qaeda Ties to ‘Khorasan’,” Fox News, September 30, 2014, http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/09/30/one-and-same-officials-give-conflicting-statements-on-al-qaeda-ties-to-khorasan/.

In explaining September 2014 airstrikes the U.S. took against the group, Joint Staff director of operations General William Mayville said, “We believe the Khorasan group was nearing the final stages of an attack in Europe or the homeland.”Erin Banco, “UN Documents Point to Deep Links Between Khorasan Leader Mohsin al Fadhli and Al Nusra Front in Syria,” International Business Times, September 24, 2014, http://www.ibtimes.com/un-documents-point-deep-links-between-khorasan-leader-mohsin-al-fadhli-al-nusra-front-1694521.

The name “Khorasan” has itself been a subject of speculation and debate. Historically, “Khorasan” refers to the area of Afghanistan and Pakistan, a term al-Qaeda began employing for propaganda purposes as early as 2007.Bill Roggio, “Taliban Create Lashkan-e-Khorasan to Hunt Predator Spies,” Long War Journal, March 28, 2011, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2011/03/taliban_create_lashk.php. The reference is drawn from the following hadith: “If you see the black banners coming from Khorasan, join that army, even if you have to crawl over ice; no power will be able to stop them. And they will finally reach Baitul Maqdis [Jerusalem], where they will erect their flags.”Zack Beauchamp, “Khorasan, Explained: Why the US Is Bombing an Al Qaeda Group You’ve Never Heard Of,” Vox, September 26, 2014, http://www.vox.com/2014/9/26/6836491/khorasan-isis-syria-al-qaeda. Historical Khorasan also includes Iran, where the group’s deceased leader, Muhsin al-Fadhli, was based before relocating to Syria.

According to U.S. officials, members of the Khorasan group gathered in Syria from the “Khorasan” area for the purpose of planning and executing attacks against the West.Christopher Blanchard, “The ‘Khorasan Group’ in Syria,” Congressional Research Service, September 24, 2014, http://fpc.state.gov/documents/organization/232512.pdf. The name for the Khorasan Group is also thought to be linked to “the Khorasan Shura,” a leadership council within al-Qaeda’s upper echelons.Eli Lake, “Al Qaeda Plotters in Syria ‘Went Dark’ U.S. Spies Say,” The Daily Beast, September 23, 2014, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/09/23/al-qaeda-plotters-in-syria-went-dark-u-s-spies-say.html. According to Vox, “the US government internally refers to [the group] as the Khorasan Shura [council], rather than simply Khorasan. But there is… some skepticism among analysts that this is the group's name.”Zack Beauchamp, “Khorasan, Explained: Why the US Is Bombing an Al-Qaeda Group You’ve Never Heard Of,” Vox, September 26, 2014, http://www.vox.com/2014/9/26/6836491/khorasan-isis-syria-al-qaeda.

Doctrine:

According to a number of State Department officials, the Khorasan Group is a network of “seasoned al-Qaida operatives”“Kerry, Iraqi President Masum at U.N. on Iraq, ISIL, Syria,” U.S. Department of State, September 23, 2014, http://translations.state.gov/st/english/texttrans/2014/09/20140923308810.html#axzz3FNoTWCbI. with “ties to core al-Qaida.”“Daily Press Briefing: September 30, 2014,” U.S. Department of State, September 30, 2014, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2014/09/232317.htm. As a group so closely linked with al-Qaeda, Khorasan’s ideology can be expected to reflect that of its parent organization. This ideology is anti-West, jihadist, and violent.

Unlike al-Qaeda cells that work towards establishing an Islamist state, however, the Khorasan group reportedly focuses its attacks on the West. The Associated Press has noted that “[Khorasan’s] objective in Syria isn’t to overthrow Bashar al-Assad, or accumulate land and resources like Islamic State. Rather, its members have come from Pakistan, Yemen and Afghanistan to exploit the flood of Western jihadists who now have skin in the fight—and possess very valuable passports.”Ken Dilanian and Eileen Sullivan, “Syrian Extremists May Pose More Direct Threat to US Than Islamic State,” Associated Press, September 13, 2014, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/al-qaidas-syrian-extremists-may-pose-bigger-threat-islamic-state/. Khorasan then seeks to redirect this jihadist fervor back toward the recruits’ home countries in order to carry out high-profile attacks. According to unnamed counterterrorism officials, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri dispatched the Khorasan group for two reasons: “to take advantage of the chaos in Syria to recruit Westerners, and to set up a shop that would be able to concentrate on external operations and allow al-Qaida to launch operations against the West more easily.”Dina Temple-Raston, “Al-Qaida’s Khorasan Group Led By Hard-Core Fighters,” NPR, September 23, 2014, http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/09/23/350927698/al-qaidas-khorasan-group-led-by-hard-core-fighters. As U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, stated, “The Khorasan Group is really focused on attacking the United States; that is largely their reason for being.”Brian Bennett, “Airstrikes in Syria also target little-known Khorasan Group,” Los Angeles Times, September 23, 2014, http://www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-fg-khorasan-20140923-story.html.

In service of its violently anti-West aims, the Khorasan group is reported to work closely with al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria,Ken Dilanian, “Strikes Didn’t End Threat From Syrian Terror Cell,” Associated Press, October 9, 2014, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/12e16712aa854b1ba75b21b891444364/airstrikes-not-end-threat-syrian-terror-cell. possibly even as a cell within the formal al-Qaeda affiliate.Jenan Moussa, “Exclusive: Documents Show that the Khorasan Group Is the Same Group as Wolf’s Nusra,” Al Aan TV, October 1, 2014, http://www.alaan.tv/news/world-news/114998/khorassan-group-is-in-fact-the-wolf-unit-of-nusra-front-documents-show. The primary distinction between the al-Nusra Front and the intricately-tied Khorasan group seems to lie in the aim and scope of their attacks. Al-Nusra Front directs its resources locally, attacking targets within Syria in order to overthrow Syria’s Assad regime and establish an Islamist state.“Mapping Militant Organizations: Al-Nusra Front,” Stanford University, last updated August 12, 2014, http://web.stanford.edu/group/mappingmilitants/cgi-bin/groups/view/493#note13. Khorasan, on the other hand, reportedly aims its attacks internationally.

Organizational Structure:

According to several U.S. officials, Khorasan iss comprised of seasoned al-Qaeda operatives,“Statement by the President on Airstrikes in Syria,” U.S. Department of State, September 23, 2014, http://www.state.gov/p/nea/rls/rm/232045.htm; “Kerry, Iraqi President Masum at U.N. on Iraq, ISIL, Syria,” U.S. Department of State, September 23, 2014, http://translations.state.gov/st/english/texttrans/2014/09/20140923308810.html#axzz3FNoTWCbl. and the number of Khorasan members is generally estimated at between 50James Gordon Meek and Luis Martinez, “US Averts ‘Active Plotting Against Homeland’ by Hitting Al Qaeda Cell Khorasan in Syria,” ABC News, September 23, 2014, http://abcnews.go.com/International/us-averts-active-plotting-homeland-destroying-al-qaeda/story?id=25692990. and 100.“ISIS Isn’t Alone: Khorasan Group May Pose Bigger Threat to U.S.,” NBC News, September 23, 2014, http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/isis-terror/isis-isnt-alone-khorasan-group-may-pose-bigger-threat-u-n209586. Dubai-based reporter Jenan Moussa uncovered documents that reportedly link the Khorasan group to a subset of al-Qaeda’s Syrian cell, the al-Nusra Front. This subset, called “The Wolf Unit of Jabhat al-Nusra,” is composed of only 14 membersJenan Moussa, “Exclusive: Documents Show that the Khorasan Group Is the Same Group as Wolf’s Nusra,” Al Aan TV, October 1, 2014, http://www.alaan.tv/news/world-news/114998/khorassan-group-is-in-fact-the-wolf-unit-of-nusra-front-documents-show. and includes “four Turks, two Egyptians, two Yemenis, two Tunisians, one Palestinian, one Serbian, and one from the Caucasus region,” as well as one listed member thought to be unaffiliated with the al-Nusra Front.Max Fischer, “Is Khorasan’s Real Name ‘The Wolf Unit of Jabhat al-Nusra’?” Vox, September 30, 2014, http://www.vox.com/2014/9/30/6875671/is-khorasans-real-name-the-wolf-unit-of-jabhat-al-nusra. NPR, on the other hand, reported that “Khorasan is thought to be made up of 40 to 60 key al-Qaida people who brought with them to Syria another 100 or so drivers, note-takers and other support staff.”Dina Temple-Raston, “Al-Qaida’s Khorasan Group Led By Hard-Core Fighters,” NPR, September 23, 2014, http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/09/23/350927698/al-qaidas-khorasan-group-led-by-hard-core-fighters.

Although Khorasan’s infrastructure is not known publicly, U.S. officials have identified Muhsin al-Fadhli and Sanafi al-Nasr as Khorasan’s leader and deputy leader, respectively.“State Department Daily Press Briefing,” U.S. Department of State, September 29, 2014, http://translations.state.gov/st/english/texttrans/2014/09/20140929309076.html#axzz3FNoTWCbl. Other reported higher-ups in the group include Abd Al-Rahman Muhammad Zafir Al-Dubaysi Al-Juhni,Jason Burke, “Who Are the Al-Qaida-Linked Khorasan Group the US Is Targeting in Syria?” Guardian, September 23, 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/23/us-airstrikes-in-syria-target-al-qaida-linked-khorasan-group-as-well-as-isis. Abu Yusef al-Turki,Peter Baker, “In Airstrikes, U.S. Targets Militant Cell Said to Plot an Attack Against the West,” New York Times, September 23, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/24/world/middleeast/us-isis-syria.html. and Mohammed Islambouli. Dina Temple-Raston, “Al-Qaida’s Khorasan Group Led By Hard-Core Fighters,” NPR, September 23, 2014, http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/09/23/350927698/al-qaidas-khorasan-group-led-by-hard-core-fighters.

Leader

Before his death in July 2015, Muhsin al-Fadhli was the reported leader of the Khorasan group.“State Department Daily Press Briefing,” U.S. Department of State, September 29, 2014, http://translations.state.gov/st/english/texttrans/2014/09/20140929309076.html#axzz3FNoTWCbl. Al-Fadhli was expected to manage Khorasan’s overarching strategy, which included reported bomb plots and efforts to recruit foreigners within Syria. Khorasan’s deputy leader declared al-Fadhli’s ‘martyrdom’ on his Twitter account on September 29, 2014,Abdul Mohsin Abdullah Ibrahim Al Sharikh, Twitter, https://twitter.com/Snafialnasr. but U.S. officials did not confirm al-Fadhli’s death at that time.Ken Dilanian, “Strikes Didn’t End Threat From Syrian Terror Cell,” Associated Press, October 9, 2014, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/12e16712aa854b1ba75b21b891444364/airstrikes-not-end-threat-syrian-terror-cell. On July 21, 2015, the U.S. Department of Defense announced that al-Fadhli had been killed by a U.S. airstrike in Syria on July 8, 2015.Associated Press, "Senior al-Qaida figure, Muhsin al-Fadhli, killed in US air strike in Syria, officials say," Guardian, July 21, 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/22/senior-al-qaida-figure-muhsin-al-fadhli-killed-in-us-airstrike-in-syria-officials-say.

Deputy Leader

Khorasan’s deputy leader is reported to be Sanafi al-Nasr,Thomas Joscelyn, “Senior Al Qaeda Strategist Part of So-Called ‘Khorasan Group’,” Long War Journal, September 24, 2014, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2014/09/senior_al_qaeda_stra.php. a nom de guerre for Abdul Mohsen Abdallah Ibrahim al Charekh. Al-Nasr is reportedly a member of “core al-Qaida,”“Daily Press Briefing,” U.S. Department of State, April 23, 2014, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2014/04/225092.htm. as well as the leader of al-Qaeda’s “Victory Committee.”Thomas Joscelyn, “Head of Al-Qaeda’s ‘Victory Committee’ Survived Battle in Syria,” The Long War Journal, April 19, 2014, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2014/04/head_of_al_qaedas_vi.php. This committee is in charge of “strategic planning and policy” for al-Qaeda.Thomas Joscelyn, “Head of Al-Qaeda’s ‘Victory Committee’ Survived Battle in Syria,” The Long War Journal, April 19, 2014, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2014/04/head_of_al_qaedas_vi.php.

Bomb-making

According to U.S. officials, Khorasan is suspected to have gleaned bomb-making expertise from al-Qaeda’s notorious bombmaker, Ibrahim al-Asiri.Josh Levs, Paul Cruikshank, and Tim Lister, “Source: Al Qaeda Group in Syria Plotted Attack Against U.S. With Explosive Clothes,” CNN, September 23, 2014, http://www.cnn.com/2014/09/22/world/meast/al-qaeda-syria-khorasan/. Al-Asiri has proved himself invaluable to al-Qaeda for his ability to design a score of creatively concealed bombs, including, for example, allegedly designing the Christmas Day bomber’s underwear bomb.“Profile: Al-Qaeda ‘Bomb-Maker’ Ibrahim al-Asiri,” BBC, July 4, 2014, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-11662143. U.S. officials remain concerned about the threat of Khorasan’s links to Ibrahim al-AsiriJosh Levs, Paul Cruikshank, and Tim Lister, “Source: Al Qaeda Group in Syria Plotted Attack Against U.S. With Explosive Clothes,” CNN, September 23, 2014, http://www.cnn.com/2014/09/22/world/meast/al-qaeda-syria-khorasan/. and have adjusted TSA procedures to reflect the bomb threat posed by Khorasan.Associated Press, “Syrian Extremists May Pose More Direct Threat to US Than Islamic State,” PBS, September 13, 2014, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/al-qaidas-syrian-extremists-may-pose-bigger-threat-islamic-state/.

Recruitment

Much of Khorasan’s tactics hinge on the group’s successful recruitment of Western foreigners. Unlike ISIS and al-Nusra recruitment tactics, however, Khorasan’s recruitment is believed to be shrouded in secrecy in order to avoid attention from counterterrorism officials. Nonetheless, an unnamed source for CNN stated that Muhsin al-Fadhli had been trying “to emulate the success of ISIS in using social media to recruit Westerners—people who could be trained and then sent home to launch terror attacks.”Josh Levs, Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister, “U.S. Strikes Khorasan Group in Syria Plotted Attack Against U.S. with Explosive Clothes,” CNN, September 23, 2014, http://www.cnn.com/2014/09/22/world/meast/al-qaeda-syria-khorasan/index.html. As a result, al-Fadhli had been able “to recruit a member of ISIS' media team to help with recruitment for Khorasan.”Josh Levs, Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister, “U.S. Strikes Khorasan Group in Syria Plotted Attack Against U.S. with Explosive Clothes,” CNN, September 23, 2014, http://www.cnn.com/2014/09/22/world/meast/al-qaeda-syria-khorasan/index.html. Although the Khorasan group is reported to keep a low profile, its deputy leader Sanafi al-Nasr maintains an active Twitter profile with over 24,000 followers.Abdul Mohsin Abdullah Ibrahim Al Sharikh, Twitter, https://twitter.com/Snafialnasr. It is unclear to what extent Khorasan uses this Twitter profile for local recruitment purposes. Al-Nasr makes a number of references to “Khorasan” on his account, but seems to refer to “Khorasan” as a placeholder for Afghanistan and Pakistan, not as its own jihadist cell.Abdul Mohsin Abdullah Ibrahim Al Sharikh, Twitter, https://twitter.com/Snafialnasr. To the extent that Khorasan is embedded within the al-Nusra Front, it is noteworthy that “al-Nusra keep a lower profile on the Internet [than ISIS], with most videos aimed at local Muslims, according to the Mapping Militant Organizations project at Stanford University.”David Lerman and Nicole Gaouette, “‘Imminent Attack’ in U.S. Prompted Airstrikes on Khorasan,” Bloomberg, September 23, 2014, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-09-23/-imminent-attack-in-u-s-prompted-airstrikes-on-khorasan.html.

 

Financing:

 

Little is known about Khorasan’s finances, but much is known about the background of its reported leader, Muhsin al-Fadhli, who has a long history of funding al-Qaeda terrorism. The first such documented case was in 2002, when al-Fadhli financed an Al-Qaeda attack aimed at a French oil tanker in Yemen.“Narrative Summaries of Reasons for Listing: QI.Q.184.05. Muhsin Fadhil Ayed Ashour al-Fadhli,” UN Security Council Committee, January 24, 2011, http://www.un.org/sc/committees/1267/NSQI18405E.shtml. The attack killed one crew member.“Narrative Summaries of Reasons for Listing: QI.Q.184.05. Muhsin Fadhil Ayed Ashour al-Fadhli,” UN Security Council Committee, January 24, 2011, http://www.un.org/sc/committees/1267/NSQI18405E.shtml. Since the Yemen attack in 2002, al-Fadhli continued to work with al-Qaeda, inheriting the leadership position for al-Qaeda’s Iran-based network in 2011.“Information that Brings to Justice…” U.S. Department of State’s Rewards for Justice, accessed October 26, 2014, http://www.rewardsforjustice.net/english/yasin_al_suri.html. According to a U.S. official from the Treasury department, this network “served as a financial conduit, collecting funds from donors throughout the Gulf and moving those funds via Iran to al Qaeda's leadership in Afghanistan and Iraq.”Thomas Joscelyn, Report: Senior Al Qaeda Facilitator ‘Back on the Street’ in Iran,” Long War Journal, January 31, 2014, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2014/01/_as_head_al_qaeda.php.

The responsibilities that al-Fadhli inherited also included “overseeing al Qaeda efforts to transfer experienced operatives and leaders from Pakistan to Syria, organizing and maintaining routes by which new recruits can travel to Syria via Turkey and assisting in the movement of al Qaeda external operatives to the West.”Thomas Joscelyn, Report: Senior Al Qaeda Facilitator ‘Back on the Street’ in Iran,” Long War Journal, January 31, 2014, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2014/01/_as_head_al_qaeda.php. According to the U.S. Treasury Department, in addition to moving “fighters and money through Turkey to support al-Qa’ida-affiliated elements in Syria,” al-Fadhli was “leveraging his extensive network of Kuwaiti jihadist donors to send money to Syria via Turkey.”“Treasury Further Exposes Iran-Based Al-Qa’ida Network,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, October 18, 2012, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/tg1741.aspx. Al-Fadhli may have used his expertise in financing terrorism and his connections from the Iranian al-Qaeda network to help fund the Khorasan group.

Key Leaders

History

 

Violent Activities

Violent Activities:

Designations

Designations by the U.S. Government:

February 15, 2005: The Department of the Treasury designates Muhsin al-Fadhli as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (under Executive Order 13224).“Recent OFAC Actions,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, February 15, 2005, http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/OFAC-Enforcement/pages/20050215.aspx. May 14, 2014: The Department of the Treasury designates Abd Al-Rahman Muhammad Zafir Al-Dubaysi Al-Juhni (Al-Juhni) as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (under Executive Order 13224).“Treasury Designates Al-Qa’ida Leaders in Syria,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, May 14, 2014, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl2396.aspx.
August 22, 2014: The Department of the Treasury designates Abdul Mohsen Abdullah Ibrahim al-Sharikh (Sanafi al-Nasr) as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (under Executive Order 13224).“Treasury Designates Additional Supporters of the Al-Nusrah Front and Al-Qaida,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, August 22, 2014, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl2613.aspx.

Designations by Foreign Governments and Organizations:

European Union—listed Abdul Mohsen Abdallah Ibrahim al Charekh as a Person Associated with the Al-Qaida Network on August, 22 2014.“Notice for the attention of Abdelrahman Mouhamad Zafir al Dabidi al Jahani, Hajjaj Bin Fahd al Ajni, Abou Mohamed al Adnani, Said Arif, Abdul Mohsen Abdallah Ibrahim al Charekh and Hamid Hamad Hamid al-'Ali which were added to the list referred to in Articles 2, 3 and 7 of Council Regulation (EC) No 881/2002 imposing certain specific restrictive measures directed against certain persons and entities associated with the Al-Qaida network, by virtue of Commission Regulation (EU) No 914/2014,” Official Journal of the European Union, August 22, 2014, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv:OJ.C_.2014.277.01.0012.01.ENG. European Union—listed Abdelrahman Mouhamad Zafir al Dabidi al Jahani as a Person Associated with the Al-Qaida Network on August 22, 2014.“Notice for the attention of Abdelrahman Mouhamad Zafir al Dabidi al Jahani, Hajjaj Bin Fahd al Ajni, Abou Mohamed al Adnani, Said Arif, Abdul Mohsen Abdallah Ibrahim al Charekh and Hamid Hamad Hamid al-'Ali which were added to the list referred to in Articles 2, 3 and 7 of Council Regulation (EC) No 881/2002 imposing certain specific restrictive measures directed against certain persons and entities associated with the Al-Qaida network, by virtue of Commission Regulation (EU) No 914/2014,” Official Journal of the European Union, August 22, 2014, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv:OJ.C_.2014.277.01.0012.01.ENG.
United Nations—listed Muhsin al-Fadhli as an Individual associated with Al Qaida on February 17th, 2005.“The Al-Qaida Sanctions List,” United Nations, last modified September 23, 2014, http://www.un.org/sc/committees/1267/AQList.htm. United Nations— listed Abdul Mohsen Abdallah Ibrahim al Charekh (Sanafi al-Nasr) as an Individual associated with Al Qaida on August 15th, 2014.“The Al-Qaida Sanctions List,” United Nations, last modified September 23, 2014, http://www.un.org/sc/committees/1267/AQList.htm.
United Nations—listed Abdelrahman Mouhamad Zafir al Dabidi al Jahani as an Individual associated with Al Qaida.United Nations Security Council, “United Nations Security Council Adds Names of Six Individuals to Al-Qaida Sanctions List,” United Nations, August 15, 2014, http://www.un.org/press/en/2014/sc11521.doc.htm.  
United Kingdom—listed Abdul Mohsen Abdallah Ibrahim al Charekh (Sanafi al-Nasr) as a Person Associated with the Al-Qaida Network on August 22, 2014.“Financial Sanctions Notice,” HM Treasury, August 22, 2014, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/347279/AQ_notice_914_2014__1_.pdf. United Kingdom—listed Abdelrahman Mouhamad Zafir al Dabidi al Jahani as a Person Associated with the Al-Qaida Network on August 22, 2014.“Financial Sanctions Notice,” HM Treasury, August 22, 2014, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/347279/AQ_notice_914_2014__1_.pdf.
Israel—listed Muhsin Fadhil a Yed Ashour al-Fadhli as a Declared Individual under Article 2 of the Prohibition of Financing Terrorism on October 6th, 2001.“נספחים רשימות הארגונים והיחידים שהוכרזו כפעילי טרור,” Prime Minister’s Office, accessed October 7, 2014, http://www.pmo.gov.il/Secretary/GovDecisions/2013/Documents/des124B.doc. Saudi Arabia—listed Muhsin al-Fadhli as a Wanted terrorist suspect.“Saudi Interior Ministry Announces Names of Suspected Terrorists,” Saudi Embassy via WebCite, June 28, 2005, http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.saudinf.com%2Fmain%2Fy8334.htm&date=2009-10-24.

Associations

Ties to Extremist Entities:

Al-Qaeda
President Obama described Khorasan as "seasoned al Qaeda operatives in Syria."“Statement by the President on Airstrikes in Syria,” U.S. Department of State, September 23, 2014, http://www.state.gov/p/nea/rls/rm/232045.htm. Despite U.S. claims that Khorasan is not entirely the same as al-Qaeda's core relocated to Syria,“State Department Daily Press Briefing,” U.S. Department of State, September 29, 2014, http://translations.state.gov/st/english/texttrans/2014/09/20140929309076.html#axzz3FNoTWCbI. U.S. internal documents reportedly refer to the group as the Khorasan Shura,Zack Beauchamp, “Khorasan, Explained: Why the US Is Bombing an Al-Qaeda Group You’ve Never Heard Of,” Vox, September 26, 2014, http://www.vox.com/2014/9/26/6836491/khorasan-isis-syria-al-qaeda. which is the leadership council of core al-Qaeda.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
Khorasan members are said to have been trained by AQAP's infamous bombmaker, Ibrahim al-Asiri. Khorasan's reported deputy leader, Sanafi al-Nasr, has tweeted in support of Yemeni fighters,Abdul Mohsin Abdullah Ibrahim Al Sharikh, Twitter, December 17, 2013, https://twitter.com/Snafialnasr/status/413035457895604224. as well as AQAP's deceased head of propaganda, Anwar al-Awlaki.Abdul Mohsin Abdullah Ibrahim Al Sharikh, Twitter, December 17, 2013, https://twitter.com/Snafialnasr/status/413035457895604224. Awlaki is linked to a number of terrorists who have carried out attacks on U.S. soil, including the Times Square Bomber, the Christmas Day Bomber, and the Fort Hood Shooter.
Al-Nusra Front (Jabhat al-Nusra)
Khorasan works intimately with the Syrian rebel group and al-Qaeda's formal affiliate, perhaps even as a subset of the group. Former CIA deputy director Mike Morrell said that the Khorasan group functions as an "external operations arm" of al-Nusra Front,“What is Khorasan?,” CBS News, September 18, 2014, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/khorasan-al-qaeda-al-nusra-external-operations-wing-in-syria/. with Khorasan's attacks directed internationally. Documents at the scene of a U.S. airstrike in Syria indicate that Khorasan may be a special unit fully embedded within the al-Nusra Front called "the Wolf Unit of Jabhat al-Nusra."Max Fischer, “Is Khorasan’s Real Name ‘The Wolf Unit of Jabhat al-Nusra’?” Vox, September 30, 2014, http://www.vox.com/2014/9/30/6875671/is-khorasans-real-name-the-wolf-unit-of-jabhat-al-nusra. It remains unclear to precisely what extent Khorasan is integrated within the al-Nusra Front but U.S. officials maintain that the two are interconnected. On September 29, 2014, the U.S. State Department released a statement saying "The 'Khorasan Group' is a term sometimes used to refer to a network of al-Nusrah Front and al-Qai'da core violent extremists.“‘One and the Same’? Officials Give Conflicting Statements on Al Qaeda Ties to ‘Khorasan,’” Fox News, September 30, 2014, http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/09/30/one-and-same-officials-give-conflicting-statements-on-al-qaeda-ties-to-khorasan/.
Iran
Before relocating to Syria in 2013, Muhsin al-Fadhli directed an al-Qaeda financing network out of Iran under the protection of the Iranian government. According to the U.S. State Department, "Iran allowed AQ facilitators Muhsin al-Fadhli… to operate a core facilitation pipeline through Iran, enabling AQ to move funds and fighters to South Asia and to Syria."“Country Reports on Terrorism 2012,” U.S. Department of State, May 2013, http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/210204.pdf. The U.S. Treasury Department noted that Fadhli's network "use[d] Iran as a critical transit point and operate[d] under an agreement between al-Qa'ida and the Iranian government. Under the terms of the agreement between al-Qa'ida and Iran, al-Qa'ida must refrain from conducting any operations within Iranian territory and recruiting operatives inside Iran while keeping Iranian authorities informed of their activities. In return, the Government of Iran gave the Iran-based al-Qa'ida network freedom of operation and uninhibited ability to travel for extremists and their families."“Treasury Further Exposes Iran-Based Al-Qa’ida Network,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, October 18, 2012, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/tg1741.aspx. In the U.S. Treasury Department's 2011 press release on the network, Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen said that, "Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world today. By exposing Iran's secret deal with al-Qa'ida allowing it to funnel funds and operatives through its territory, we are illuminating yet another aspect of Iran's unmatched support for terrorism."“Treasury Targets Key Al-Qa’ida Funding and Support Network Using Iran as a Critical Transit Point,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, July 28, 2011, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/tg1261.aspx.

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