COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - While ISIS has been open and public with their tactics, very little is known about a small al-Qaeda unit also known as the Khorasan Group that aims to attack the West.
The United States and its Arab allies launched missiles in Aleppo, Syria on Tuesday where the Khorasan Group is believed to be stationed.
Dr. Tom Dolan, a retired military officer and a current Columbus State University Political Science professor, explained the Khorasan group can pose a bigger threat to the U.S. than ISIS.
"Khorasan is a bigger threat to us than Isis," Dr. Dolan explained. "Isis wants to control territory in their region. They want to be the new nation, the new caliphate. The Khorasan group wants to hurt us. Some people are bomb makers and they are working to harm us. They want to emulate the 9/11 attack. It's a way of getting attention, and it's a way of them getting recruiting and support."
Dr. Dolan explained the U.S. is concerned about some Westerners joining the group.
"These Westerners with passports can travel to the United States as well as other Western countries," Dr. Dolan said. "It makes them easier to attack their target countries."
"The intelligence community has known about the group for maybe two years now," Dr. Dolan said. "The group is very small in size; it's made up of about 50 militants. The group's leader is a former associate of Osama bin Laden and the people in the group are long time al-Qaeda members."
Dr. Dolan said it's difficult to learn about small groups since it's harder to target them.
"They have the same goals as al-Qaeda and they want to have some spectacular strikes against the West," Dr. Dolan explained. "National reports state the Khorasan group was imminently planning to attack the West."
The term 'Khorasan' means Midwest, and it refers to the region.
"The term comes from the large geographic area including Iran and Afghanistan," Dr. Dolan said.
President Barack Obama decided not to send ground troops to Iraq. Dr. Dolan said this could make things more difficult, but Dr. Dolan said America's five Arab allies and their contribution in the attack against ISIS was very significant.
"Most of these countries have never even flown their air forces outside of their own air space and yet, they are willing to take a chance of involving themselves with us," Dr. Dolan said. "This shows that this issue is not just about the Western Christian nations on a crusade. This is the world against a group of people who are a great threat to the region and to the world as well."