RPT: Special Ops Made Plans to Target Al Qaeda in Syria in June
U.S. Special Operations forces reportedly had detailed plans to target al Qaeda operatives in Syria this summer, but those plans never made it to the White House.
According to the Daily Beast, Special Operations forces prepared operations in June after learning of plans to attack U.S. airliners.
Eli Lake, of The Daily Beast, joined Shepard Smith to explain.
“The point is that this is a group of very experienced people who had access to lots of western passports and other kinds of things that could be useful for spectacular kinds of terrorist operations, and they were in Syria, not planning operations against Bashar al-Assad or the regime or other rival opposition groups. They were really planning attacks against the West."
At that time in late June, Lake said that President Barack Obama had only committed to sending some Special Ops to Iraq to assess the situation.
Watch the interview above. Read part of the report below:
Within the American government, the threat was considered serious enough that the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command—the Pentagon’s elite hunter-killers—prepared detailed targeting packages for the group, with the specific locations of the group’s leaders. But those plans never made it to the White House, according to senior U.S. intelligence and Pentagon leaders.
“There was sufficient targeting information on these guys in June,” said one senior U.S. intelligence official. “It was good information on who, what, and where and there was an acknowledgment of this at the highest levels.”
The new disclosure that Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) had prepared target packages against al Qaeda’s cell comes as some critics on the left and righthave questioned whether the White House invented the threat from the so-called “Khorasan Group” in order to justify airstrikes that began in September against al Qaeda and ISIS targets in Syria. Skepticism has also mounted because U.S. officials have walked back claims in the last week that the strikes on the Khorasan Group were an attempt to disrupt an imminent threat.
Jenan Moussa of Al-Aan Television this week reported that the Khorasan Groupwas actually an elite unit within al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise, which has been focused on its fight inside the country. Other U.S. officials tell The Daily Beast that the group is composed of senior al Qaeda planners focused on attacking the West.
Senior and mid-level U.S. intelligence and defense officials who have tracked the threat tell The Daily Beast that the alarm raised about the Khorasan Group came from within the intelligence community and particularly from the U.S. military’s special operations task forces that monitor al Qaeda and the Levant. “The senior leadership in the military didn’t want to ask the question when they knew the answer would be ‘no,’” said the senior U.S. intelligence official quoted earlier about why the targeting packages were not sent to the White House in June.