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Holder: Khorasan Was 'In The Execution Stage of a Plot'

Outgoing attorney general says terror cell had been working on a plot 'for some time.'
Supporters of the Al Nusra Front take part in a protest against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the international coalition in Aleppo on September 26, 2014. The US struck a little-known group called "Khorasan" on September 24, but experts and activists argue it actually struck Al-Qaeda's affiliate Al-Nusra Front, which fights alongside Syrian rebels. AFP PHOTO/ Fadi al-HalabiFadi al-Halabi/AFP/Getty ImagesFADI AL-HALABI / AFP - Getty Images

Attorney General Eric Holder said Friday that the al Qaeda-affiliated Khorasan Group was in the “execution phase of a plot” when the U.S. and its allies targeted its members with air strikes early this week.

“I can't get into specifics, but there is no question that the Khorasan Group had moved into the execution phase of a plot,” he told NBC’s Pete Williams in an interview Friday. “And the bombing campaign that was begun was designed to disrupt and stop that plot that was imminent.”

Until the Obama administration announced the missile strikes against it on Monday, most Americans had never heard of the mysterious organization, which is accused of plotting terrorist attacks on Western targets.

But Holder indicated that intelligence officials have been closely tracking it for years – and that they had a fairly clear idea of what the terror cell’s intended plot entailed.

“We'd been following them for two years, and we have watched as they have progressed,” he said. “We were concerned that they had gotten to the point where they were in a position to execute one plot that they had been working on for some time.”

- Carrie Dann