Alleged French Spy-Turned-Traitor Targeted in Airstrikes on Al Qaeda

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A former spy for France, who defected and joined al Qaeda, was one of the targets of American airstrikes in Syria last month aimed at stopping the terror group from blowing up planes over the skies of Europe or the U.S., according to two intelligence officials.

The French ex-intelligence officer’s purported defection to al Qaeda and involvement with other operatives in Syria developing undetectable, non-metallic bombs to smuggle aboard passenger planes in the West was first reported by McClatchy D.C. Sunday.

He has not been publicly identified but was described as the highest-ranking defector ever to go over to al Qaeda’s side, according to officials who confirmed the McClatchy news report.

Before the U.S. stepped up its air offensive against al Qaeda and ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq on Sept. 22, the U.S. government had urged several news outlets including ABC News to withhold details about an al Qaeda cell officials called the “Khorasan Group,” which the defector had joined in Aleppo, Syria. McClatchy reported the Frenchman apparently survived the American strikes.

The Khorasanis were a specialized team of seasoned jihadis who fought together in the Afghanistan-Pakistan conflicts but were little known outside intelligence circles until days before the strikes. They have been sheltered by al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, according..

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