Ilyas Kashmiri was among 9 militants killed in drone attack
Key al-Qaida figure reportedly killed (NBC News, June 4, 2011) — A drone strike in Pakistan has reportedly killed Ilyas Kashmiri, who is said to be a possible successor to Osama bin Laden as al-Qaida’s top commander. Kashmiri has also been connected to planning the 2008 massacre in Mumbai, India, which killed over 160 people. NBC’s Brian Mooar reports. (01:07)
June 4, 2011
PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A top al-Qaida commander and possible replacement for Osama bin Laden was killed in an American drone-fired missile strike close to the Afghan border, a militant group and Pakistani officials said Saturday.
Ilyas Kashmiri’s apparent death is another blow to al-Qaida just over a month after bin Laden was killed by American commandos in a northwest Pakistani army town. Described by U.S. officials as al-Qaida’s military operations chief in Pakistan, the 47-year-old Pakistani was one of five most-wanted militant leaders in the country, accused of a string of bloody attacks in South Asia, including the 2008 Mumbai massacre, as well as aiding plots in the West. Washington had offered a $5 million bounty for information leading to his location. [links added]
His death was not confirmed publicly by the United States or Pakistani officials. …
But a fax from the militant group he was heading — Harakat-ul-Jihad al-Islami’s feared “313 Brigade” — confirmed Kashmiri was “martyred” in the strike at 11:15 p.m. Friday in South Waziristan tribal region. It was sent to journalists in Peshawar.
“God willing, America, which is the ‘pharaoh’ of this, will soon see a revenge attack, and our real target is America,” it said. The statement was handwritten written on a white page bearing name of the group, which has not previously communicated with the media. [link added] …
Said to be blind in one eye and missing a finger, Kashmiri was one of the country’s most accomplished — and vicious — militants. He fought with jihadi fighters in Afghanistan and in Indian-held Kashmir in the 1990s and was so close to al-Qaida’s central command that he had been mentioned as a contender for replacing bin Laden, though many analysts thought the fact that he was not an Arab meant he was unlikely to get the post. [link added]
Indian officials have alleged he was involved in the 2008 Mumbai siege that killed more than 160 people. He has also been named a defendant in an American court over a planned attack on a Danish newspaper that published cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in 2005. [link added]…
Kashmiri has most recently been linked to last month’s 18-hour assault on a naval base in Karachi. He is also accused of masterminding several bloody raids on Pakistan police and intelligence buildings in 2009 and 2010, as well as a failed assassination attempt against then-President Pervez Musharraf in 2003. [links added]
The U.S Department of State says he organized a 2006 suicide bombing against the U.S. consulate in Karachi that killed four people, including an American diplomat.
Opposition to the strikes grew this year after a CIA contractor shot and killed two Pakistanis in the street, triggering ever more intense anti-American anger. After the bin Laden raid, which was seen by many here as an outrageous violation of the country’s sovereignty, the parliament issued a declaration calling for the attacks to end. [link added] …
The United States does not acknowledge the CIA-run program, though its officials have confirmed the death of high-value targets before, including the head of the Pakistani Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, in 2009 — a strike welcomed by many Pakistan officials because he too was a sworn enemy of the country. [link added] …
Related reports on this site
Osama bin Laden Dead (May 1, 2011)
Pakistan Guerrilla War Has Begun (Oct. 15, 2009)
Bloody Siege at Pakistan Military Headquarters (Oct. 8, 2009)
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