Pakistan’s interior minister said on Sunday [June 5, 2011] that he was “98 percent sure” senior al Qaeda operative Ilyas Kashmiri was killed in a U.S. drone strike near the Afghan border. [The BBC was first to report the news claiming that nine people were killed in the strike about 10 miles outside Wana].
U.S. officials in Washington were skeptical over reports that Kashmiri, seen as one of the world’s most dangerous militants, was dead. A U.S. National Security official said he could not confirm that he had been killed and another U.S. official said it was doubtful. “All ground intelligence shows that he is dead. What I can say is there is a 98 percent chance he is dead,” Interior Minister Rehman Malik told Reuters.”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.” That may not be possible since it is very difficult for Pakistani security forces to get to areas like South Waziristan where intelligence officials said Kashmiri was killed in a drone strike on Friday night [June 3, 2011]. After missile strikes by remotely-operated drone aircraft, militants often seal off the area then bury their comrades. The elimination of Kashmiri would be another coup for the United States after American special forces killed Osama bin Laden in a garrison town close to Islamabad on May 2. The killing of bin Laden aroused international suspicions that Pakistani authorities had been complicit in hiding him, and led to domestic criticism of them for failing to detect or stop the U.S. team that killed him.
One intelligence official said that Pakistan had tipped off the Americans about the whereabouts of Kashmiri, whom the U.S. Department of State has labeled a “specially designated global terrorist.” Kashmiri, said to be a former Pakistani military officer, has been linked to attacks including the 2008 rampage through the Indian city of Mumbai which killed 166 people. A Pakistani television station quoted the group Kashmiri headed, Harkat-ul Jihad Islami (HUJI) which is allied to al Qaeda, as saying he had been killed and that it will avenge his death.
Excerpt, Kamran Haider, Pakistan minister: very likely al Qaeda’s Kashmiri is dead, Reuters, June 5, 2011