Top jihadist leader killed in drone strike

Ilyas Kashmiri was operational commander for a Pakistani terrorist outfit known as Harakat-ul-Jihad-Islami, that operated mostly in India and Kashmir the last decade. The group had ties to al-Qaeda as well as other Pakistani terrorist organizations, including the Taliban.

He was at one time sanctioned by the Pakistani military so it is not surprising that we caught him in the open in South Waziristan:

Kashmiri was killed, along with some aides, in a strike at 11:15 p.m., spokesman Abu Hanzla Kashar said.

"The oppressor U.S. is our only target and, God willing, we will take revenge on the U.S. soon with full force," he said.

A senior Pakistani military official said that in all, nine were killed by the drone strike. The official reiterated that they had not confirmed Kashmiri's demise.

Kashmiri, who was known to operate in North Waziristan, had moved to South Waziristan and was seen at the site of the attack on Friday, the official said.

If confirmed, his death would be the first major kill or capture since Osama Bin Laden, and the highest profile drone target since Beitullah Mehsud in 2009.

It could also be seen as an embarrassment for Pakistanis, who have twice in just over one month, had a major al Qaeda figure killed on their territory without their participation.

Kashmiri may also have had a hand in the Mumbai massacre in India:

Kashmiri is also said to have ties with David Coleman Headley, the U.S. citizen who confessed to helping scout targets for the Mumbai attack in November 2008. After his arrest, Headley said he had twice met Kashmiri.

During questioning by India's National Intelligence Agency, which was given access to him in Chicago, Illinois, in June 2010, Headley said he'd been taken to Pakistan's tribal territories to meet Kashmiri early in 2009.

This was a very well connected terrorist who had ties to many of the worst in South Asia. Counterterrorism officials refer to Kashmiri as al-Qaeda's "military brain." His demise, if positively confirmed, would be another blow to AQ, coming on the heels of OBL's takedown.

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