The reports about the death of Ilyas Kahmiri have resurfaced again after 3rd June, 2011 US drone strike in South Waziristan. It is alleged that he has been killed with nine other people soon after he arrived there from North Waziristan. It is strange that so far there is no official confirmation from USA. ” The Department of defense has no confirmation,” Pentagon spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan told reporters during his off-camera daily briefing when asked about news reports coming from Pakistan that Kashmiri has been killed. Interestingly Pakistani Premier Yousaf Raza Gilani told a news conference in Quetta, the capital of Pakistan’s Balochistan province, that “as far as the death of Kashmiri is concerned, America has confirmed that his death occurred on Friday”. However, the 313 Brigade, of which Kashmiri remained commander in chief, was swift in confirming the death of Ilyas Kashmiri in a hand written pamphlet. According to analysts it is yet to be ascertained that whether, this time too, Ilyas Kahmrir has died or not?. There are some other perplexing questions like; how Ilyas survived drone attacks in the past. Why Al-Qaeda has affirmed his death so quickly?. What will be the response of these militant organizations after the successive deaths of their two high profile .
It must be kept in mind that the confirmation of Ilyas’s death is highly unusual on part of Al-Qaeda and TTP because under usual circumstances they do not confirm the deaths of its leaders. In the case of Baitullah Mehsud, his death was not confirmed before one month and the death of Qari Hussain has not been confirmed so far. In this whole scenario it is strange that what made Al-Qaeda, HuJI and 313 Brigade to show such a prompting response in affirmation of the death. In addition to it, HuJI spokesperson Abu Hanzala issued a statement in which it said it would take revenge from the US for Kashmiri’s death.
It is noteworthy that Ilyas Kashmiri was pronounced dead twice in the past in a short span of one week. First it was 7th September 2009 that news appeared in the international media that Ilyas Kashmiri was no more. He was targeted and killed in US drone strike. However, this development proved very short-lived. On 14 Sep, 2009 there was media buzz again about his death. This news could not relieve USA and West for a long time as he was seen again alive and kicking and in the tribal areas of Pakistan.
These all acrobatic survivals made Ilyas Kashmiri a Robin Hood type of character after all it requires gigantic valor to survive drone attacks. This image was strengthened when a group of fidayeen attacked General Headquarter in Rawalpindi on 10th October 2009. It was later transpired that Ilyas Kashmiri masterminded this attack. Recently on 22nd May attack on the Mehran Naval Base in Karachi baffled Pakistani defense and security officials. The reason was that this assault was almost a verbatim of the GHQ attack which gives credence to the fact that GHQ and PNS Mehran attacks were carved out by one man, Ilyas Kahmiri. Further investigation revealed that many of the steps of these attacks were similar to each other. Anyhow, recent reports suggest that on 3rd June Ilyas Kashmiri reached Wana town of South Waziristan Agency. This move was intended to relocate in the wake of expected operation in North Waziristan Agency.
Ilyas Kashmiri had a love-hate relationship with the Pakistani establishment. In 1980s he was trained and nurtured by the ISI and the CIA to fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Ilyas Kashmiri was a man great valor and fearlessness. These qualities were enough to get him close to the Pakistani establishment. He was used both in Afghanistan and Kashmir very intelligently. However, in 1990s he was trapped by Indian armed forces in Kashmir. This arrest could not restrain the zealous Jehadist inside Ilyas Kashmiri. He escaped from the Indian Jail in Kashmir and came to Pakistan. When he reached here things were changed because of the release of Molana Masood Azhar from Indian custody. The later formed Jaish-e-Muhammad. Ilyas Kahmiri was asked to join this newly born organization under the command of Molana Massod Azhar. He was under immense pressure but the maverick Ilyas Kashmiri did not comply with these demands. That was the point where rifts started to appear between Ilyas Kashmiri and Pakistani establishment. In 2003 Ilyas was arrested in Pakistan for his alleged involvement in the plot to kill Musharaf.
Kashmiri was not very much popular among the masses but in the defense and security circle of the West and the USA he was a looming danger. On august 6 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton designated Harakat-ul Jihad Islami (HUJI) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended, and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224. These actions were taken in consultation with the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Justice. In tandem with the HUJI designations, the Secretary of the Treasury also designated HUJI leader Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri under E.O. 13224 on August 6. These actions gave U.S. law enforcement additional tools needed to restrict the flow of resources to both HUJI and Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri. By these measures he was put into the same league of Osama and Zawahari.
In addition, on August 10th 2010, the United Nations took similar actions against Harakat-ul Jihad Islami and Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri. These actions require all UN member states to implement an asset freeze, travel ban, and arms embargo against this group and individual. Ambassador Daniel Benjamin, the State Department’s Coordinator for Counter terrorism, said that “the joint State and Treasury Department actions taken today, in conjunction with the United Nation’s listing, illustrates the international community’s resolve to counter the threat posed by HUJI and its leader Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri.” Ambassador Benjamin further noted that “the linkages between HUJI and al-Qa’ida are clear, and today’s designations convey the operational relationship between these organizations.”
In the start of 2010, Kashmiri became the new leader of Al-Qaeda’s Lashkar e Zil (shadow army) following the death of its former leader Abdulah Said Al Libi by US drone attack. In addition , he was Al-Qaeda’s chief strategist beside Saif Al-Adal. Security analysts say that death of Ilyas Kashmiri is a severe blow to the missions of Al-Qaeda. Ilyas was one of the few indigenous Al-Qaeda fighters from Pakistan. He remained the chief strategist of this lethal organization that has seriously challenged the West and USA. After the killing of Osama bin Pakistan he was dubbed as the new head of AL-Qaeda. The successive death of two top most Al-Qaeda leaders will dismantle its operations. However, this will enrage Islamic extremists and they might sting back to vent their anger. This danger must be sensed in time and take proper care of.