Saturday, June 04, 2011

Drone Strike Kills Another Big Fish in Pakistan

Yet another al Qaeda top terrorist has been confirmed killed as a result of a UAV airstrike.
Senior Al Qaeda-linked militant Ilyas Kashmiri has been killed in Pakistan by a United States drone attack, media reports.

The drone strike hit the village of Lehman, South Waziristan, in Pakistan's in north-west.

Local people told the BBC that Kashmiri, regarded as one of the world's most dangerous militants, was amongst nine people killed and that he and his men had only recently arrived in the area.

Intelligence and security officials have said they had no information confirming that Kashmiri was killed.
Kashmiri was considered a possible successor to Osama bin Laden. Now? He gets to join him in hell.

With this success following the bin Laden raid, one has to wonder whether intel gathered in the bin Laden raid had anything to do with the planning and carrying out of this latest drone strike.

Long War Journal's Bill Roggio notes that the location where Kashmiri was killed is territory in South Waziristan controlled by Mullah Nazir, who has openly stated he's affiliated with al Qaeda.
Several other top al Qaeda leaders have been killed by Predator strikes in Nazir's territories. One of the most senior al Qaeda leaders killed was Midhat Mursi al Sayyid Umar, who is better known as Abu Khabab al Masri. Abu Khabab was killed along with four members of his staff in a Predator strike on July 28, 2008. Also killed on Nazir's turf were Osama al Kini (Fahid Mohammed Ally Msalam), al Qaeda's operations chief in Pakistan; and Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan, one of al Kini's senior aides. Both men were wanted by the US for their involvement in the 1998 suicide attacks on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

Kashmiri's death would be a major blow to al Qaeda and allied terror groups in the region. He is considered to be one of the contenders to take command of al Qaeda after Osama bin Laden's was killed during a May 2, 2011 raid by US SEALs in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

He is considered by US intelligence to be one of al Qaeda's most effective commanders. He served as the operational chief of the Harkat-ul Jihad Islami, an al which that operates in Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. The Harkat-ul Jihad Islami was designated as a terrorist entity by the US in 2010, and Kashmiri was added to the list of global terrorists for his role in leading HUJI as well as for his links to al Qaeda.
It's notable also that the Pakistani government has thus far not made any comment about the airstrike. With so many top al Qaeda terrorists operating from Pakistani territory and plenty of support from Islamists within the Pakistani government and security forces, the Pakistani government continues walking a fine line between trying to go after terror groups like al Qaeda and fending off potential threats to the government.

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