Amid scepticism about ‘specially designated global terrorist' Ilyas Kashmiri's death in a drone attack on Friday night, Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Sunday that he was 98 per cent certain that the man considered by some analysts here as al-Qaeda's chief military strategist had been killed.
However, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan has been quoted as stating that Kashmiri is “alive and safe.”
Mr. Malik was quoted by Reuters as saying that all ground intelligence showed that Kashmiri was dead. “What I can say is there is a 98 per cent chance he is dead. Since we do not have the body, we do not have DNA we need to confirm. This is the substantive evidence we are looking for.”
Compared to most drone attacks, a considerable amount of details is now available on the Predator strike that killed Kashmiri in South Waziristan.
The statement issued by the banned Harkat-ul Jihad al Islami announcing its commander's death has been seconded by the political agent of the tribal agency, Shoaib Khan.
According to details made available to the media, Kashmiri was in the compound of a tribesman associated with the Mullah Nazir group, considered “good Taliban” by Pakistan because it has never attacked targets in the country. Soon after the unmanned Predators struck their targets, terrorists apparently surrounded the area and refused to allow locals to help in the rescue work. The bodies, according to officials, were charred beyond recognition and swiftly buried.
With the drones this time reportedly taking out a ‘high value target,' questions began to be asked about the stablishment's insistence on opposing Predator attacks publicly when they have proved effective time and again in targeting terrorists.