HuJI confirms the death of its leader in a statement
'Specially Designated Global Terrorist' Ilyas Kashmiri — wanted by both India and the U.S. — was reportedly killed in a drone attack in South Waziristan along the Afghanistan border on Friday night. The outlawed Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami (HUJI) confirmed the death of its 'amir' (leader) and commander-in-chief in a statement faxed to Pakistani media organisations on Saturday afternoon though security officials remained circumspect as the veracity of the fax could not be established.
According to the HUJI spokesman, Kashmiri was "martyred" along with other companions in an American drone strike at 11-15 on Friday night. "God willing, America will very soon see our full revenge. Our only target is America," the statement said.
Given that Kashmiri was similarly considered killed in a drone attack in North Waziristan in September 2009, questions were raised about the latest reports of his death; particularly in the absence of an official confirmation. News of Kashmiri being alive was announced to the world by slain Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad a month later after travelling to North Waziristan to interview the HUJI leader on invitation.
In his book, 'Inside Al-Qaeda & The Taliban, Beyond Bin Laden & 9/11' – launched 10 days before his murder – Shahzad claimed that the Mumbai terror attack was conceived by Kashmiri as a "massive operation" aimed at bringing India and Pakistan to war; thereby ensuring a halt to proposed operations against the al-Qaeda. A plan of the ISI — which had been put in cold storage — was then hijacked by Kashmiri to put the two countries on collision course for the purpose.
$5 million reward
Kashmiri’s name figured in the list of five terrorists that the U.S. reportedly handed over to Pakistan on May 27 during Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s visit to Islamabad. In April this year, the U.S. Department of State had authorised a reward of upto $ 5 million for information regarding Kashmiri.
‘Specially Designated Global Terrorist’
According to the U.S. State Department, Kashmiri has led HUJI training camps and his outfit has launched several attacks in India and Pakistan including the suicide bombing of the U.S. Consulate in Karachi. Kashmiri had been declared a 'specially designated global terrorist' by the U.S. in August 2010.
Born in 1964 in 'Pakistan Occupied Kashmir', Kashmiri had been involved in jihad since the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and had shifted his attention to Kashmir later. Within HUJI, he set up his own 313 Brigade and had once been arrested in India but managed to escape from prison two years later. He was also arrested in Pakistan once for an abortive bid to assassinate former President Pervez Musharraf but was let off for want of evidence.