A senior Pakistan Taliban leader confirms to Channel 4 News that their leader Ilyas Kashmiri was killed by a US drone strike, but denied any involvement in recent Pakistan attacks.
Ilyas Kashmiri was regarded as one of the most dangerous militants in the world, and was killed by a US drone missile strike on Friday night in South Waziristan, Pakistan.
Kashmiri was a senior al-Qaeda militant who was labelled by the US as a “specially designated global terrorist” and was on their list of high-profile militants.
His death will be regarded as another success for the American government, after US special forces killed Osama Bin Laden in Islamabad last month.
A senior commander of Harkat-e-Jihad Islami (HUJI) and close aide of Ilyas Kashmiri, confirmed that Kashmiri was killed by US drones at Wana.
Channel 4 News spoke on the telephone with the HUJI commander, Qari Mohammad Idrees in South Waziristan, who lamented the loss of his leader.
“We lost our hero finally. He was the hero of Islam, Kashmir and Afghanistan,” remarked Idrees in a broken voice.
‘We lost our hero finally. He was the hero of Islam, Kashmir and Afghanistan’
Seemingly upset over the loss of their leader, Idrees said Ilyas Kashmir and his men had never been involved in terror incidents in Pakistan, including the recent assault on the Karachi naval base last month.
“We have no involvement in either attack in Pakistan whether it was attack on GHQ or Mehran base in Karachi.”
However, now, he warned, they would revenge the loss of their leader from Pakistan, its security agencies and America.
The US holds the HUJI militants responsible for the March 2006 suicide bombing of the U.S. consulate in Karachi which killed four people and wounded 48.
It also says HUJI provide fighters to the Afghan Taliban for their war against the US in Afghanistan.
Kasmiri was considered to be a top al-Qaeda operative and one of the world’s most dangerous and effective militants. He is believed to have been a former Pakistani military officer.
Pakistani media has been speculating that Kashmiri planned the militant siege of the PNS Mehran naval base in Pakistan’s commercial hub and biggest city Karachi last month which humiliated the Pakistani military.
In that operation, six militants held off 100 security forces, including commandos, for 16 hours.
Kashmiri reportedly had ambitions to attack targets in the US. Last year, the U.S. attorney’s office in a statement quoted a Chicago taxi driver charged with sending money to Kashmiri as saying the militant told him he “wanted to train operatives to conduct attacks in the United States”.