French defector David Drugeon, Ahrar al Sham allegedly targeted in Idlib strikes

Alleged video of slain Al Nusrah bomb maker David Drugeon’s vehicle, taken by Syrian activists in Sarmada, Idlib

Video surfaced on Facebook late Nov. 5 alleging to show the aftermath of a United States airstrike in Idlib. A number of recent airstrikes, as we now know, were targeting the Khorasan Group, a collection of al Qaeda veterans embedded within the Al Nusrah Front.

US Central Command announced that “US military forces conducted airstrikes last night against five Khorasan Group targets in the vicinity of Sarmada, Syria, using bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft” in a press release yesterday.

“We are still assessing the outcome of the attack, but have initial indications that it resulted in the intended effects by striking terrorists and destroying or severely damaging several Khorasan Group vehicles and buildings assessed to be meeting and staging areas, IED-making facilities and training facilities,” the release continued.

Fox News reported that David Drugeon, a French defector to al Qaeda and a master bomb maker, was targeted in the airstrikes.

“The drone struck a vehicle traveling in Syria’s Idlib province that was believed to be carrying Drugeon. The driver of the vehicle is thought to have lost a leg and was expected to die, according to sources with knowledge of the operation. A second person thought to be Drugeon was killed, according to well-placed military sources,” Fox News reported.

Local activists reported that a destroyed vehicle at the scene of the strike belonged to an Al Nusrah Front official.

Based on the video above, the viewer can see that the vehicle was hit with precision, as nothing surrounding it appeared to be damaged. Furthermore, US Central Command confirmed that airstrikes did occur in the town of Samarda. The video above could possibly show the vehicle in which Drugeon was traveling when he was allegedly killed.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that the Islamic Front’s Ahrar al Sham, an al Qaeda ally, was also targeted. SOHR said that an Ahrar headquarters was targeted near the Bab al Hawa border crossing. This seems to fit a report made by an Ahrar fighter on the night of the strikes which said that an Ahrar arms depot near Bab al Hawa was targeted. A video was also posted to YouTube from an alleged Ahrar member delivering a similar statement.

CENTCOM did not state that it targeted Ahrar al Sham in the Nov. 5 airstrikes. Ahrar al Sham is closely allied with the Al Nusrah Front.

Caleb Weiss is a contributor to FDD's Long War Journal.

Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.

Tags: , , , ,

8 Comments

  • Mike in San Diego says:

    A 24 year old master bomb maker? He must have started when he was 5…

  • David says:

    We decided to send the master bomb maker a few free samples. Professional courtesy…

  • rusty says:

    So what makes you guys so sure Drugeon is the alleged defector from French intelligence (assuming that’s what you meant by “defector”)? Everything I’ve read from different press reports made it seem pretty unclear if he’s the former agent that has everyone so worried.

  • Evan says:

    As far as David Drugeon is concerned, I’ve read all sorts of things about this guy.
    It initially came out that he was a French intelligence asset of some rank. The “highest,” ever to defect to AQ.
    I read that he was especially well trained in counter intel, counter surveillance, etc. Not bomb making.
    Unless those fields are related to bomb making in some way, it was my understanding that this guy was a serious French asset that had gone rogue and joined up with AQ in Syria.
    I also read somewhere that he had fought before in Af/Pak, and that he had fought “with a rare prowess,” blah blah blah.
    Then news stories start coming out about this guy developing explosives that can be liquified, clothes can be dipped in to the explosives and dried then worn, or it could be sprayed on the clothes somehow. That’s pretty serious, and it’s not something that I think just anybody can or could do.
    I think at this point it’s pretty obvious that the west wants this guy dead in a bad way, and we’ll certainly accomplish that task if we haven’t already, at the same time. I personally want to know more about who he really is, what training he received, what he knows etc…He was somehow able to infiltrate one of the most highly respected intelligence organizations on the planet, and that needs to be prevented from happening again.
    As far as drawing some distinction between Ahrar al Sham, or Al Nusrah, or Al Qeada, or the Khorasan Group, there really is NO distinction to be made. Ideologically they are the same. Some of the players contained within each organization may have regional aspirations, but others are thinking bigger and they’re not afraid to put it on a video either.
    It’s absurd to try and distinguish between these groups. We don’t and can’t support any of them, at the same time, we don’t want to do anything to help Assad….
    The middle east, in my opinion, is looking more and more like a great big giant turd sandwich. Sooner or later we all have to take a bite of this sandwich, and it’s going to suck, but we might as well just take our bite, wash it down and get it over with….

  • Nick says:

    We have to keep the playing field level. I think somebody is waking up to the fact that there won’t be anything left of the FSA to take the fight to ISIS or Assad later on.

  • Arjuna says:

    This article, while informative and objective, misses the Drugeon DGSE insinuations entirely.
    What is meant by a “defector”? Defected from what? Kind of a big omission IMHO. Simply citing Fox News does not an article’s contents make.
    It would be great if LWJ could do a follow-up on the question of whether Drugeon was a double-agent and, if so, how close the DGSE came to getting Zawahiri (and Ibrahim Al Asiri) as a result of this relationship.
    Who really was the master bomber? I think Drugeon worked for Al Asiri on the latter’s designs. But, regardless, Z trusts both these guys and we need to kill all three of them, assuming Drugeon is still alive.

  • Wallbangr says:

    Is this the purported DGSE defector? Previous news stories I read (//finance.yahoo.com/news/us-airstrikes-syria-reportedly-targeted-113000703.html) failed to ID him by name, likely out of respect for the Intel folks who would have wanted to keep a lid on it for operational reasons. 24 seems awfully young to have that kind of experience plus the bomb making skills. But who knows. French assets in CT are no joke. Hope they got him, because that is one dangerous cat, if it’s the same guy. His opsec background alone is something worth silencing

  • Jake says:

    Hear! Hear!
    “As far as drawing some distinction between Ahrar al Sham, or Al Nusrah, or Al Qeada, or the Khorasan Group, there really is NO distinction to be made.
    Ideologically they are the same.
    Some of the players contained within each organization may have regional aspirations, but others are thinking bigger and they’re not afraid to put it on a video either.
    It’s absurd to try and distinguish between these groups. ”

Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis