WASHINGTON — The Islamic State group is grabbing the attention now.
But American officials say another band of extremists in Syria — a mix of militants from Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and Europe — poses a more direct and imminent threat to the United States, and they're working with Yemeni bomb-makers to target U.S. aviation.
At the center is a cell known as the Khorasan group. These are veteran al-Qaida fighters from Afghanistan and Pakistan who traveled to Syria to link up with the al-Qaida affiliate there.
U.S. officials say these militants didn't go to Syria mainly to fight against President Bashar Assad.
Instead, they were sent by al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to recruit Europeans and Americans whose passports allow them to board a U.S.-bound airliner with less scrutiny from security officials.