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BBC quotes locals saying Ilyas Kashmiri killed in drone strike

BBC Urdu has reported that Ilyas Kashmiri, one of the top leaders of the al Qaida and one of the contenders to the top position, has been killed in a drone attack recently.

Kashmiri was among the 9 or so militants killed in the drone attack in South Waziristan.

This is not the first time that Kashmiri has been declared dead, with a similar claim being made in 2009.

BBC quoted local residents as saying that Kashmiri was among those killed.

Pakistan is yet to confirm the killing. He is linked not to just to the Mumbai attacks of 2008, but he is also learnt to be the mastermind behind the recent attack at PNS Mehran, a South Pakistan Naval Base. Kashmiri was touted as the next chief for al Qaida.

His death is being seen as a big victory for the Pakistani establishment, as he has had a troubled relationship with the Pakistan government — moving in and out of its support circle.

Kashmiri is from the Pakistan-administered Kashmir and was an active participant in the 1980s Soviet-Afghan War, training the Afghan mujahideen in mine warfare in Miranshah on behalf of Pakistan, according to Wikipedia.

“During the fighting he lost an eye and an index finger. He continued his official militant work in Kashmir after the war as a member of Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI), though disagreements with leader Qari Saifullah Akhtar several years after initially joining in 1991 led Kashmiri to establish his own new unit within HuJI known as the 313 Brigade.

“During the mid-1990s Kashmiri and Nasrullah Mansoor Langrial were near Poonch when they were seized by the Indian Army and sent to prison, where he would spend the next two years before escaping and returning to Pakistan.[5] Upon his return Kashmiri continued to conduct operations against India, once reportedly being rewarded personally with cash by then Army Chief General Pervez Musharraf for presenting the head of an Indian army sepoy to him,” the site says.

Kashmiri has moved in and out of the ‘favor’ circle of the Pakistani establishment and ISI.

Kashmiri was arrested in late 2003 after a failed assassination attempt on the then Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

He was released the next year and he formed a new organization Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, linked to Al-Qaeda, in 2007.

As part of a broader movement of Kashmir militants moving to Waziristan, and Kashmiri reportedly moved personnel from his Kotli (Kashmir) training camp to a new one in Razmak (North Waziristan), according to Wikipedia.

Kashmiri was said to have replaced al-Qaeda military chief for Afghanistan and Pakistan Mustafa Abu al-Yazid after al-Yazid was killed in a drone strike on May 21, 2010.

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