Most Americans learned about the Khorasan group only after recent U.S. airstrikes targeted the terrorist organization. But one of the Boston Marathon bombers was watching YouTube videos about the group’s jihadi ideas a year ago.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was behind the April 2013 bombing and was subsequently killed in the manhunt that lead to his brother’s arrest, “liked” a video about the prophecy of Khorasan, which lends its name to the terrorist group. NBC News does not verify this is Tamerlan’s YouTube.
The video, “The Emergence of Prophecy: The Black Flags of Khorasan,” portrays this prophecy: A Muslim army carrying black flags will arise from the region to overcome everyone else in the Middle East. The Khorasan region, which the terrorist group reportedly pledges to recreate, encompassed large swaths of present-day Afghanistan, eastern Iran, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Black flags will characterize the battleground, the video says. It’s an increasingly familiar image: Jihadists regularly fly black flags with white writing, particularly in ISIS propaganda footage.
The Khorasan group was testing bombs to bring aboard airplanes, intelligence officials revealed on Tuesday. The group’s plan for an “imminent” bombing of an airline prompted the preemptive airstrikes, officials said.
An offshoot of al Qaida, the Khorasan group is far smaller than the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria — estimates put the number of members close to a hundred, while ISIS has tens of thousands of members — but their work also aims to attack and terrorize Western targets.
Still, NBC News’ Richard Engel said they are just one of many violent, threatening groups.
“When you look at Syria and you look at all the militant groups on the ground, there are many groups in Syria that could pose a threat to the United States, not just Khorasan,” ” Engel said on “Morning Joe.” ”Once you start bombing in Syria, when you start looking for targets, there will be a lot.”