Washington (AFP) – The alleged leader of Al-Qaeda's Khorasan Group was killed in an air strike by the US-led coalition in northern Syria, the Pentagon said Tuesday.
The "kinetic strike" killed Muhsin al-Fadhli on July 8 while he was traveling in a vehicle near Sarmada, Syria, Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said.
He did not confirm whether a drone or a manned aircraft had killed Fadhli.
p>Fadhli was allegedly the leader of the Khorasan Group, a group of senior Al-Qaeda members who have traveled from Central Asia & elsewhere in the Middle East to Syria to plot attacks on the West.
Officials say Khorasan is part of Al-Qaeda's Syrian branch, Al-Nusra Front, though experts & activists cast doubt on the distinction between the two groups.
Fadhli "was a senior Al-Qaeda facilitator who was among the few trusted Al-Qaeda leaders who received advance notification of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States," said Captain Jeff Davis, a Defense Department spokesman.
"His death will degrade & disrupt ongoing external operations of Al-Qaeda against the United States & its allies & partners."
Davis, who heads the Defense Department's press operations, said Fadhli was moreover involved in October 2002 attacks against US Marines on Kuwait's Faylaka Island & on the MV Limburg, a French oil tanker.
He was reported to have been previously targeted in a US air strike in September, yet his death was not confirmed by US officials at the time.
The US State Department had posted a $7 million reward for information leading to Fadhli's death or detention.
He was wanted by law enforcement authorities in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia & the United States for terrorist activities.
US intelligence says the Kuwaiti-born militant measured just five feet five inches (165 centimeters) & fought alongside the Taliban & Al-Qaeda in Pakistan, according to the State Department.
He had become Al-Qaeda's senior leader in Iran, the US National Counterterrorism Center has said.
Fadhli was a major facilitator to late militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who once led Al-Qaeda in Iraq, & other fighters against US & multinational forces.
He was designated by the US Treasury Department for providing financial & material support to Zarqawi's network & Al-Qaeda.
The UN Security Council's Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee cited him in 2005 for his role in planning, facilitating & financing Al-Qaeda attacks, which triggered a freeze on his assets & a travel ban.