Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Washington May 11 (Only Kashmir): A Kashmir born and Pakistan based militant commander Ilyas Kashmiri, who has been linked to multiple terror plots — including a series of planned “Mumbai style” attacks in European cities last summer — has emerged a possible successor to Osama bin Laden as leader of al-Qaida, according to U.S. officials
law enforcement and intelligence agencies have increasingly focused on him in recent years. The CIA has targeted him in drone attacks in northwest Pakistan and federal prosecutors have indicted him in a major terrorism case involving a Chicago businessman who goes on trial next week.
An elusive figure who often wears heavily tinted aviator glasses, Kashmiri remains at large and active in plotting new attacks against the West, U.S. officials say. It was Kashmiri who, according to U.S.
officials, was the key figure behind a suspected plot for multiple attacks in European cities, patterned after the 2008 Mumbai terror strike, which led to a widely publicized State Department travel advisory in October.
While Ayman al-Zawahri remains the “presumed” successor to bin Laden, the longtime al-Qaida deputy is deeply unpopular in some circles and his elevation is by no means guaranteed, a senior U.S. official told reporters this weekend. If al-Zawahri doesn’t make it, Kashmiri may emerge as the dark horse in the ensuing power struggle, the official told NBC.
“His star has been on the rise for the last several years,” said the official. “He would have to be on the al-Qaida short list.”
Kashmiri was at one point a member of the Pakistani military, serving as a commando in a Special Services Group that was once tasked with training Afghan mujahedeen to fight the Soviets.
He was later reassigned to train Kashmiri fighters against the Indians, but broke from the Pakistani army and joined a terrorist group — called Harakat-ul Jihad-i-Islami, or HUJI (“Movement of Islamic Holy War”) — that has been closely aligned with al-Qaida.


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