Royce: al Qaeda bomb maker involved in Khorasan plot

The U.S. suspects al Qaeda’s top bomb maker was developing new techniques and recruiting foreign fighters from Western countries to carry out terrorist attacks on jetliners, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed RoyceEdward (Ed) Randall RoyceCalifornia was key factor in House GOP's 2020 success Top donor allegedly sold access to key politicians for millions in foreign cash: report Here are the 17 GOP women newly elected to the House this year MORE (R-Calif.) said Friday.

The airstrikes targeting the Khorasan Group, a band of veteran al Qaeda operatives that had set up camp within, was intended to disrupt that plot, Royce said in an interview with CNN.


“We know the key bomb maker for al Qaeda was involved or we suspect his involvement in a training program in which they were recruiting from the United States and from Europe, young men, in order to learn from some seasoned al Qaeda professionals who had this type of training,” Royce said. “New techniques in bomb making with a specific intent, as we have heard, of trying to hit jet liners and carry out attacks in the United States and in Europe.”

According to Royce, U.S. airstrikes hit the admissions facilities, training centers, and barracks where those fighters were being housed.

“The attempt here is to disrupt the ability of al Qaeda to carry out that mission. They were brought down from senior al Qaeda actually gave the order to go into the region and, you know, meet with these young recruits that hold the western passports,” Royce said.

Royce says presumably the airstrikes disrupted the plot, and that the U.S. knows that some of the Khorasan Group’s leaders were killed.

“Some, apparently, survived the attack,” Royce said. “The key now is to follow up, which is being done as we speak, with very high level of intensity through that region in order to try to saturate those who may have survived the first with additional attacks.”

Senior administration officials said earlier this week the U.S. had been watching the operatives "for many months” and that intelligence officials believed the Khorasan Group was "nearing the execution phase" of an "imminent" attack in Europe or the U.S. homeland.