By Tom Rogan
…Especially problematic for Western intelligence services is the fact that Khorasan makes a fetish out of covert, highly compartmentalized planning. Put simply, where the Islamic State drowns itself in blood, Khorasan relies upon a few select individuals to develop creative plans to evade Western security nets. Guided by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s master bombmaker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, Khorasan has a special affinity for advanced IEDs. The group pursues explosives that can be smuggled onto airliners in laptops or shoes, for example, and then detonated.
And Khorasan doesn’t just pose a physical threat. It also poses a threat in terms of serving as a model for other terrorist groups. Like the Islamic State, Khorasan has learned the lessons of the past. It avoids electronic platforms vulnerable to intelligence monitoring. Moreover, extending al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri’s “lone wolf” strategy, Khorasan seeks holders of Western passports — mainly from the EU — to give it greater mobility across Western borders. And, crucially, through airport security checkpoints.
Taken together, all of this makes Khorasan a major threat to the West. While the Islamic States poses a more serious overall threat because of the thousands of Europeans in its ranks and its destabilizing effect in the Middle East, Khorasan must be confronted with urgent, decisive force. Absent that response, the group’s “black flags” will continue their advance from the east, and the lives of Western citizens will be placed in increasing jeopardy.