More than a third of the 22 US airstrikes in Syria weren't aimed at ISIS. Instead, they targeted a lesser-known al-Qaeda cell known as the Khorasan Group—an organization that some US officials see as a "more direct threat" to the West than ISIS, the New York Times reports. Khorasan appears to be focused on recruiting Western jihadists in Syria. The group is attracted by their passports, which could make it easier to sneak bombs onto planes, CBS News reports. Last night's airstrike's hit a Khorasan training camp in Syria that was "nearing the execution phase" of terror attacks against US or European targets, an army official says, successfully disrupting those plans, according to USA Today. Pentagon press secretary John Kirby says the attacks were to be "major."
Khorasan's leader is 33-year-old Muhsin al-Fadhli, the Independent reports. A quickly-rising star in al-Qaeda, he has been linked to terrorist leaders like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of al-Qaeda in Iraq, the Washington Post reports. Reports from the White House and UN note his involvement in al-Qaeda efforts in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran; he allegedly took a leading role in both fighting and fundraising for the group. Khorasan also has bomb technicians who learned from Ibrahim al-Asiri, the man behind failed underwear and print-cartridge bombs that made headlines, insiders tell CBS. The group is pursuing "high-profile attacks against the West," says a counterterror official, noting its "increasing awareness of Western security procedures and its efforts to adapt to those procedures that we adopt." (Read more Khorasan stories.)