Sources close to the US Department of Defense claimed on Thursday that David Drugeon, a French jihadist and bomb-making expert, was likely killed in a US attack in Syria. An American drone reportedly hit a convoy transporting members of the Khorasan group, a faction of senior al Qaeda members, in Idlib province, 40 miles to the west of Aleppo.
Speaking to VICE News today, a spokesman for the French ministry of foreign affairs refused to confirm reports of Drugeon’s death, saying that his ministry was liaising with the American authorities on the matter. He also declined to provide any background information on the French target of this US operation.
According to AFP, 24-year-old Drugeon was born in Vannes, Brittany, in the northwest of France. He left school with a vocational diploma in mechanics and was reportedly a fan of the Olympic Marseille soccer team in his teens. Following his parents’ divorce, he converted to Islam at the age of 13, radicalizing through a local group of Salafi Muslims and adopted the name Daoud.
After saving up money, Drugeon traveled to Egypt to study the Koran. In 2010, he told his family that he was returning to Egypt, traveling instead to the tribal areas of Pakistan to wage jihad in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region. There, he met Moez Garsallaoui, a Belgian al Qaeda veteran, who taught him how to handle explosives.