US strike in Syria reportedly kills key bomb maker

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(CNN) — A U.S. airstrike in Syria appears to have killed a key French jihadist who is part of the militant Khorasan Group, a U.S. defense official said Thursday.

The strike happened overnight Wednesday near Idlib, according to the official, who has access to the latest information about the strikes.

The U.S. fired at a vehicle it believes carried David Drugeon, a skilled bomb-maker who also has ties to core al Qaeda members in Pakistan.

The Khorasan Group is made up of senior al Qaeda leaders who have moved into Syria.

The United States targeted the Khorasan Group with a series of strikes in Syria in September.

Those attacks came amid intelligence that suggested the group was plotting against a target in the U.S. homeland as well as other Western targets, a senior U.S. official told CNN at the time.

Dangerous operative

Intelligence indicated that Khorasan was in the final stages of planning terrorist attacks in the West, including against American aviation.

Sources said that among the devices Khorasan’s bomb-makers were developing to try to beat airport security were bombs made out of clothing dipped in explosive solution and explosives concealed in personal electronics.

U.S. officials told CNN’s Barbara Starr and Pamela Brown in October that Drugeon may have been actively involved in these efforts, which also involved technology transfers from al Qaeda’s master bomb-maker in Yemen, Ibrahim al Asiri.

In July, the Transportation Security Administration banned cell phones without electronic charge from airplane cabins in response to the intelligence, much of it fragmentary, that was coming in on the plans.

Drugeon’s knowledge of explosives, European background and access to Western fighters in Syria makes him arguably one of the most dangerous operatives in the entire global al Qaeda network.