Kashmiri's death will add to militants' woe

11:13, June 06, 2011      

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Al-Qaida and Pakistani Taliban have suffered another serious blow in nearly a month after the death of Osama bin Laden on May 2 as second senior leader, Ilyas Kashmiri, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan's northwest tribal area of South Waziristan late Friday night.

Tribesmen said the U.S. spy aircraft fired missiles on an orchard in a small remote village when Kashmiri was taking tea with militants, the majority of them from eastern Punajb province, known as Punjabi Taliban.

Amir Hamza, in-charge of a splinter Taliban group led by Mulla Nazir, was also killed in the same strike in a small village called Laman, some 20 kilometers from Wana, the center of South Waziristan.

Mulla Nazir, who controls Wana and surrounding areas, had refused to support the slain chief of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP when Pakistani security forces launched a major offensive in South Waziristan in October 2009. Despite a peace agreement with the Pakistani government, Mulla Nazir is widely believed to have sheltered militants including foreigners. The U.S., in several drone strikes in recent months, targeted militants in South Waziristan, who belonged to the Mulla Nazir group.

Kashmiri, chief of Harkat-ul-Jehadi-e-Islami or HUJI, who was wanted by both the U.S. and Pakistan, was killed in the area controlled by Mulla Nazir, who is from the Wazir tribe and enjoys widespread support in his tribe. Hamimullah, the incumbent TTP chief, belongs to the Mehsood tribe and both tribes had been rival to each other for years.

Abu Hanzala, a purported HUJI spokesman, confirmed the death of Kashmiri for whom the United States had announced a five-million- US-dollar bounty and vowed revenge upon the U.S. and Pakistan.

While the death of Kashmiri is a sigh of relief for Pakistan and the U.S., it is also considered to be a serious blow to al- Qaida and Taliban militants as he was considered as one of the possible successors to Osama bin Laden. All these hopes are now vanished with his death. Though Osama bin Laden is dead for more than a month, al-Qaida has not yet been successful to nominate his successor and Kashmiri's death may further delay the announcement.

A Pakistani security official was quoted as saying that Pakistan had passed on intelligence to the U.S. about the presence of Ilyas Kashmir who was believed to have arrived in South Waziristan a few days ago. The cooperation came just days after Pakistan's Foreign Office disclosed that Pakistan and the U.S. had formed a joint intelligence network to share information on the movement of the militants.

Pakistan would be happy as Kashmiri was thought to be mastermind of the major attacks on the country's important defence installations including the last month brazen attack on a naval air base in Karachi, which killed 10 navy personnel and the attack on the army's headquarters in Rawalpindi in 2009, which killed several soldiers. His name was also figured in the assassination of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was killed in gunshots and a suicide attack in December 2007.

When U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Islamabad on an unscheduled visit late last month, she looked confident about Pakistan's cooperation after the country's embarrassment over intelligence failure on Osama bin Laden. Kashmiri was on the list of the five most wanted terrorists, which was handed over to Pakistan by the U.S. during Clinton's four-hour meeting with Pakistan's top political and military leaders. Kashmiri was believed to be sending fighters to Afghanistan to fight the US-led forces.

Indian media aired as breaking news the death of Kashmiri as the slain al-Qaida leader had fought Indian troops in its part of Kashmir and also he was considered as one of the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which killed nearly 170 people.

The death of Kashmiri will now exert pressure on the militants as they have lost second senior leader in nearly a month. The growing intelligence sharing between Pakistan and the U.S. will prove fatal to the militants, who have now been confined to Waziristan regions. Pakistan is now under mounting U.S. pressure to act against al-Qaida and Taliban in North Waziristan, which the CIA considers as a launching pad for cross-border attacks into Afghanistan. Pakistan has not officially confirmed reports about the possible military operation in North Waziristan, but the Pakistani media have recently reported about the expected offensive.

Source:Xinhua
 
 
     
 
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(Editor:黄蓓蓓)

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