Strike two: Ilyas Kashmiri dead – again

Published: June 5, 2011

Headed 313 Brigade of Harkatul Jihad al Islami – the organisation blamed for PNS Mehran and GHQ attacks; group confirms death, vows revenge.

ISLAMABAD: 

In yet another major psychological blow to al Qaeda following the killing of Osama bin Laden, the network’s leader in Pakistan Ilyas Kashmiri has been killed in a US drone strike in South Waziristan.

Kashmiri, 47, was chief of the dreaded 313 Brigade of Harkatul Jihad al Islami (HJUI) militant group that has been described by US counter terrorism officials as an operational wing of al Qaeda. He was earlier incorrectly reported to have been killed in a September 2009 strike by a US drone.

Kashmiri, who had a maximum bounty of $5 million on his head, was killed in a missile strike by a CIA-operated pilot-less aircraft in the Karikot area of South Waziristan, intelligence officials and local sources said.

“The strike took place in the Karikot area on the outskirts of Wana, the main town in South Waziristan, before midnight on Friday,” local sources said. “Some ‘guests’ were sitting in an apple orchard when a loud explosion took place.”

An intelligence official in Peshawar endorsed this version.

“Kashmiri was having tea with his men in the orchard when the strike took place. All nine militants, all of them from Punjab, were killed in the attack,” he told The Express Tribune.

Another intelligence official and local political administration also confirmed Kashmiri’s death.

“We are sure that he (Kashmiri) has been killed. Now we are trying to retrieve the bodies. We want to get photographs of the bodies,” said the official.

Kashmiri and other militants were meeting an Afghan Taliban who worked in liaison with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) when the drone missile struck, he added.

Though the TTP denied the reports saying Kashmiri was alive, his own group confirmed his death.

“We confirm that our Amir (leader) and commander-in-chief, Muhammad Ilyas Kashmiri, along with other companions, was martyred in an American drone strike on June 3, 2011, at 11:15 pm,” Abu Hanzla Kashir, who identified himself as an HUJI spokesperson, said in a statement faxed to media outlets.

“God willing … America will very soon see our full revenge. Our only target is America,” the statement added. The authenticity of the statement could not be verified though.

According to US media, Kashmiri had moved to Wana from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 10 days ago.

“We were closing in on him and he switched off his satellite and cellular phone … he wanted to cross the border into Afghanistan to find a hiding place,” an intelligence official told Reuters.

“It was a tipoff by us since we were closely monitoring his movements,” the official said, referring to the drone strike.

Kashmiri’s 313 Brigade is widely believed to have masterminded the May 22 brazen attack on Pakistan’s key naval airbase in Karachi in which 10 security personnel were killed and two surveillance planes worth millions of dollars were destroyed.

He has also been blamed for the October 2009 attack on the army headquarters, GHQ, in Rawalpindi.

Counterterrorism officials believe he was the main coordinator of a terror plot targeting Britain, France, Germany and the US, apparently in early stages when detected by intelligence agencies in 2010.

Kashmiri’s name was believed to be on a list, which the US gave Pakistan, of senior militants it wanted killed or captured.

Others on the list include Taliban leader Mullah Omar, Haqqani network chief Sirajuddin Haqqani and al Qaeda No 2 Ayman Al Zawahiri.

Brig (retd) Shaukat Qadir, former president of the Policy Research Institute in Islamabad told The Express Tribune that Pakistani intelligence officials had tipped off the CIA about Kashmiri’s presence in the orchard.

Drone strikes have increased under the administration of President Barack Obama. Though some key militants have been killed in drone attacks, but the number of civilians killed in such attacks is much higher, fuelling anti-American sentiment in Pakistan.

While Pakistani leaders publicly criticise drone strikes, analysts say killing high-value targets like Kashmiri would not be possible without Pakistani intelligence.

Harkatul Jihad al Islami (HuJI)

  • The Harkatul Jihad al Islami (HuJI) is a militant organisation – of which Ilyas Kashmiri was the operational commander – with an affiliate in Bangladesh. Qari Saifullah Akhtar along with two of his associates, Maulana Irshad Ahmed and Maulana Abdus Samad Sial, all seminary students from Karachi, were instrumental in laying the foundation of Jamiat Ansarul Afghaneen in the 1980s.
  • The HuJI persisted even after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, merging with another militant group known as the Harkatul Mujahideen, forming Harkatul Ansar which subsequently began operations in Kashmir.
  • In 1997, it renamed itself again as Harkatul Mujahideen to avoid being termed a ‘Foreign Terrorist Organisation’ by the US.

Ilyas Kashmiri: 313 Brigade chief

  • Ilyas Kashmiri was the operational commander of the militant organisation Harkatul Jihad al Islami (HuJI), who had a bounty of $5 million on his head.
  • He reportedly escaped a US drone strike in North Waziristan in late 2009. He has been blamed for multiple attacks in Pakistan, including an attack on a naval base in Karachi and on the army headquarters in Rawalpindi.
  • Counter-terrorism officials believe he was the main coordinator of a terror plot targeting Britain, France, Germany and the United States.
  • In January 2010, a US federal grand jury indicted him for a plot to attack Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten over blasphemous cartoons.
  • Included on US and UN terror blacklists, Ilyas Kashmiri was born in 1964 in Azad Kashmir.

(With additional input from Iftikhar Firdaus in Peshawar and Reuters)


Published in The Express Tribune, June 5th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (24)

  • Star
    Jun 5, 2011 - 9:35AM

    Any comments from Imran Khan?… NO WAY!!! The CIA is undermining his awesome ISI sponsored campaign of becoming the Next Prime Minister by taking out high value targets.

    Before talking about violation of Sovereignty by U.S. drones, Pakistan must accept it’s failure in enforcing it’s sovereignty itself.

    Therefore show gratitude towards these drone strikes, and do not mourn the loss of “SO-CALLED INNOCENTS” who are nothing but harbors and sympathizers of these terrorists.Recommend

  • faraz
    Jun 5, 2011 - 9:37AM

    He was an ex SSG commando and gave training to Afghan Mujahideen in the use of land mines. He also participated in the Kargil war and Musharraf gave him cash reward for bravery. Recommend

  • Mirza
    Jun 5, 2011 - 10:00AM

    The army/ISI have no option either to go and clean North Waziristan or give the whereabouts of high value targets for the drone attacks. Despite all their huff and puff, they are finally rating out their strategic assets and Americans are killing them like sitting ducks. The finding and killing of OBL was a game changer and it is the beginning of the end of top leadership of terrorists.
    The terrorists, cowards can only attack and kill innocent Pakistani civilians. With all their big claims, how many Americans have they killed after they annihilated him? They are all done, gone, and finished. No more safe havens in Pakistan now. The Americans are not going to let go the pressure on Pakistan army till all known leaders are killed.
    Now most people would realize why so many army touts and Ghairat brigade were against the drone attacks? They are killing the terrorists with pinpoint accuracy. Great job well done, we are thankful to you. Recommend

  • pl/sql
    Jun 5, 2011 - 10:15AM

    I for one cannot thank the USA enough for this deed! Thank you America!Recommend

  • Jun 5, 2011 - 10:29AM

    Al Qaeda is more or less finished in Pakistan and survives through its splinter groups from within and without. They are now finding ways to get into Yemen and Somalia. We have to be careful of the village molvi and our madrassas who have a ‘hypnotic’ hold on the minds of the villagers. Furthermore, lack of economic opportunities leads to disenchantment with the system; which is the responsibility of the state. Salams to all.Recommend

  • Iftikhar-ur-Rehman
    Jun 5, 2011 - 11:03AM

    I sincerely hope this BEAST is dead !!!Recommend

  • Thinking
    Jun 5, 2011 - 11:36AM

    Keep fighting Pakistan. There are many more enemies of Pakistan like this guy who are yet to be killed.Recommend

  • Hassan
    Jun 5, 2011 - 11:46AM

    You and other einsteins have still not figured out that even if you have killed a high value target they just get replaced, so this is an insane and inhumane way to deal with terrorism. 20 or so high value targets killed amongst more than 1200 casualties due to dronesRecommend

  • vasan
    Jun 5, 2011 - 12:37PM

    Is it a coincidence that AlQaieda’s no 1 and no 2 are killed inside Pakistan. Does US not have any justification for pressurizing Pakistan. Ur guess is as good as mine. All those Pakistanis who kept chest thumping that they had nothing to do with 9/11 or 26/11 have got egg on their face. The conspirators of both of these crimes were hunted down inside Pakistan. Speaks volumes of the dubious games of pakistan, the haven for terrorists.Recommend

  • Chilli
    Jun 5, 2011 - 12:41PM

    US is always right. We should accept whatever US say about anyone. We have to switch our policies whenever US demands. If US is happy with our corrupt leaders, we all should be happy too. Next time if US consider M.A.Jinnah a terrorist, we will also accept that for Dollars and will change our history. We are living on dollars so US is in our blood and minds. We are waiting for the day when Paksitani Army will handover Pakistan to US. This is all drama of patriotism, we were sold decades ago.Recommend

  • tungalahore
    Jun 5, 2011 - 1:15PM

    thankyou america!!!god bless america and the drones for making this world a safer placeRecommend

  • indian guy
    Jun 5, 2011 - 1:20PM

    I would prfer that he be killed 100 times. At least hope he is dead.Recommend

  • Omar Abdullah
    Jun 5, 2011 - 1:33PM

    Alhamdoulillah! Today the whole of kashmir will rejoice for the killer of innocent kashmiris has been sent to his creator. Hopefully he wont get the necessary virgins as he will be declared a murderer of innocent kashmiris and not a martyr. He must be quite disappointed not to find the virgins waiting for him. Meanwhile three cheers to the American drones and the Pakistani intelligence, that is if they have changed tack with a bit of arm twisting by the Americans. It is like the old Chinese saying “spare the rod and spoil the child”. The Americans have been finally able to make the Pakistani Intelligence see sense so what if they had to squeeze their ba..s for it. My suggestion to the Americans is not to let loose their grip on the ba..s of the military.Recommend

  • Jun 5, 2011 - 1:34PM

    @indian guy:
    @tungalahore:
    @Chilli:
    @vasan:
    You must learn to speak as your Indian Journalist Eshwar Sundaresan suggested in the following link:

    http://www.dawn.com/2011/06/03/belligerence-with-a-mission.html

    Just read and learn what he says and be cool and moderate – - – - – and dont just jump to conclusions.

    Regards

    Dr. Saleem Siddiqi

    Johannesburg
    South Africa Recommend

  • Sayani
    Jun 5, 2011 - 1:57PM

    @vasan:
    you have the right to express your opinion but you certainly have no right to point your finger to call Pakistan a haven for terrorists. I do not know your nationallity but by your name I am guessing its indian. If you are Indian then you point one finger towards us but you point 4 fingers to urself. We all know how much RAW is involved in all of this as well. Pakistan has been a thorn in the throats of the high-ups of the Indian hierarchy since 14 August 1947. So take care of your home and dont say anything about our home.

    If you are a Pakistani then you and I are as much responsible for evils in our country as anyone else. The end responsibility lies on us to stand tall in front of the evils threathening our country and clean up the mess.Recommend

  • Asif Khan
    Jun 5, 2011 - 2:44PM

    How could ISI tip CIA re Kashmir freedom fighter? He was a Kashmir freedom fighter. What will Kashmiris think of us now? Are we behaving like Indians with kashmiris now?Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Jun 5, 2011 - 2:47PM

    @ Vasan
    Go and cry in your own country’s pagesRecommend

  • Akmal Wasim
    Jun 6, 2011 - 2:55AM

    @Mr. Saleem Siddiqi: No one is jumping at any conjectural conclusions. The only problematic problem is that we are today spinning before the world. The sooner we accept it the better.Recommend

  • BandayMatram
    Jun 6, 2011 - 3:25AM

    The things which turned Ilyas Kashmiri against Pakistan was Lal Majid Operation way back in 2007. Before that, at least I know our country had some rare suicidal attacks.Recommend

  • zeeeeeee
    Jun 6, 2011 - 7:43PM

    @BandayMatram:
    may be ur right………..but now kashmiri was against pak and involved in different terror attacks….Recommend

  • Realist
    Jun 7, 2011 - 10:31AM

    @zeeeeeee:

    Ever cared to think why he turned against Pakistan? (hint: Our Foreign policy of being a mercenary state)Recommend

  • Shah
    Jun 7, 2011 - 11:48AM

    Long live PakistanRecommend

  • wasim younis
    Jun 7, 2011 - 11:59AM

    this is great news for the human race. A person who has caused so much pain should be killed like this. This is going to be a huge setback for the militants as he was next in line for alqaida leader. The world needs to work together to eliminate these terrorists.Recommend

  • Jun 7, 2011 - 12:10PM

    @BandayMatram:
    @zeeeeeee:
    Any person named Kashmiri is NOT a Pakistani. Hameed Kashmiri who wrote scipt of famous Indian film “JUNGLEE” was an Indian and so are others.

    Just pointing finger towards Pakistan as other four fingers are pointing towards you only.

    Why India failed to curb independent militancy in Kashmir and killed thousands and thousands of poor innocent Kashmiris which is a genocide. Why India is keep a huge force of Army in Kashmir to curb and rule with the help of power.

    Those days are gone when any Country can rule with the Dandaa. You will see one day Kashmir will be independent out of the shackles of India Inshallah and we may see a genocide trial in the World Court of justice.

    Regards

    Dr. Saleem Siddiqi

    Johannesburg
    South AfricaRecommend

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