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Top Pakistani militant Ilyas Kashmiri reported killed in US drone attack

Ilyas Kashmiri was a senior Al Qaeda operative believed to be behind some of the deadliest attacks, including a suicide attack on Pakistan’s spy agency and attacks on US forces in Afghanistan.

By Staff writer / June 4, 2011

Pakistani television in Karachi reports the death of top militant leader Ilyas Kashmiri in a US drone strike in the tribal territory of South Waziristan. Kashmiri is believed to be behind some of the deadliest attacks in India and Pakistan.

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Ilyas Kashmiri, a top Pakistani militant and senior Al Qaeda operative, reportedly has been killed in a US drone strike in the tribal territory of South Waziristan, according to press reports and a statement from the group he headed.

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Kashmiri is believed to be behind some of the deadliest attacks in India and Pakistan, including a 2009 suicide attack on Pakistan’s spy agency and attacks on US forces in Afghanistan.

He is the operations chief of a group called Harakut-ul Jihad Islami, which has some 3,000 militia members and is classified by the US as a terrorist organization tied to Al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and the Punjabi Taliban.

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A Newsweek profile headlined “Is Ilyas Kashmiri the New Bin Laden?” said he “has the experience, the connections, and a determination to attack the West – including the United States—that make him the most dangerous Qaeda operative to emerge in years.”

A Pakistani intelligence official said Kashmiri was among nine militants killed in the strike. While identifying individuals killed in such attacks can be difficult, a fax from the militant group he was heading – Harakat-ul-Jihad al-Islami's "313 Brigade" – confirmed Kashmiri was "martyred" in the strike.

Described by U.S. officials as Al Qaeda's military operations chief in Pakistan, he was one of five most-wanted militant leaders in the country, accused in a string of attacks, including the 2008 Mumbai massacre.

Kashmiri also has been linked to last month's assault on a Pakistani naval base in Karachi.

He is also accused of masterminding several raids on Pakistan police and intelligence buildings in 2009 and 2010, as well as a failed assassination attempt against then-President Pervez Musharraf in 2003. The US Department of State says he organized a 2006 suicide bombing against the US consulate in Karachi that killed four people, including an American diplomat.

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