Report: Jihadi Cell More Direct Threat Than ISIL, Say Intelligence Officials

Intelligence officials in the U.S. say there's a more pressing national security concern than ISIL.

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A group of jihadis from Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and Europe may be more of a direct and imminent threat to the United States than ISIL, say intelligence officials.

According to a report from the Associated Press, a cell with al-Qaida links known as the Khorasan group is at the center of the organization — a division known to be working with Yemeni bomb-makers with plans to target U.S. airliners.

Citing classified intelligence assessments, the report says Khorasan militants are attempting to recruit European and American passport holders because they can board U.S.-bound planes with less scrutiny. The cell has also been working on new ways to get explosives past airport security. This is why, for example, the TSA decided in July not to allow uncharged cell phones and other devices to pass through security.

The U.S. has publicly acknowledged the group, but it has not reached anywhere near the level of attention that ISIL has in recent months despite the intelligence community's concern.

"The group's repeated efforts to conceal explosive devices to destroy aircraft demonstrate its continued pursuit of high-profile attacks against the West, its increasing awareness of Western security procedures and its efforts to adapt to those procedures that we adopt," Nicholas Rasmussen, deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center, told a Senate panel this week.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.