Britons fighting for militant groups in Syria are being targeted to smuggle explosives on to Western airliners and become suicide bombers as Al Qaeda plan a spectacular attack over a major city, intelligence officials warn.
The Pakistan-based, Iranian-backed Khorasan group linked to Al Qaeda is said to have sent members to ’embed’ with affiliated terror groups to identify British, European and United States passport holders who could slip through security and carry a bomb on to a plane.
The terror group’s allies in Yemen have been working on developing an ‘undetectable ‘ bomb that could be implanted inside the body of an operative as well as other devices that allows him or her to pass through airport security and scanners.
Senior intelligence officials in the Afghan capital Kabul say the operation has been ordered by Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri with the first choice target US cities followed by those such as London and Paris.
It would be seen as a ‘tribute’ to Osama Bin Laden, the Al Qaeda leader killed by US Seals in Pakistan in May 2011, who oversaw the devastating Twin Towers airline suicide attacks on the US landmarks in September 2001.
The so-called Khorasan Group is reported to be made-up of some 50-60 veteran militants from Afghanistan and Pakistan and has established a site inside Syria that is being used to train operatives and ‘introduce, develop and perfect external attacks.’
The militants are thought to have embedded themselves within Al Qaeda’s local affiliate, the al-Nusra Front, which is said to have British and other Western fighters – and taken over land and buildings in its strongholds.