A US airstrike in Syria has killed a key figure in a dangerous al-Qaeda offshoot, the Pentagon said today. Muhsin al-Fadhli was killed in a July 8 air attack while traveling in a vehicle near Sarmada, Syria, said Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis. He did not say whether al-Fadhli was killed by a drone or a piloted aircraft. Al-Fadhli was a leader of the Khorasan Group, a cadre of al-Qaeda operatives who were sent from Pakistan to Syria to plot attacks on the West. Davis noted that he was "among the few trusted al-Qaeda leaders" who received advanced notice of the 9/11 attacks. Officials say the Khorasan Group is embedded in the al Nusra front, Syria's al-Qaeda affiliate.
Previously based in Iran, al-Fadhli was the subject of a $7 million reward by the State Department for information leading to his capture or death. He had been falsely reported as having been killed last fall. He also was reportedly involved in October 2002 attacks against US Marines on Faylaka Island in Kuwait and on the French ship MV Limburg. Officials have said that the Khorasan militants were sent to Syria by al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to recruit Europeans and Americans whose passports allow them to board a US-bound airliner with less scrutiny from security officials. (Read more al-Qaeda stories.)