Muhammad Ilyâs Kashmîrî - a Pâkistânî militant leader who had joined al Qâ'idah - is dead. Kashmîrî had been a member of Harakah al Mujâhidîn (known under various aliases), a Pâkistânî group allied to al Qâ'idah and the Tâlibân that used training camps in the Tâlibân's Afghânistân and fought in the Kashmîrî insurgency in the 1990s and thereafter. As every group fighting in Kashmîr this group had links to the Pâkistânî military and to the intelligence service ISI, Kashmîrî himself may have been a member of an elite squad belonging to the army.
Kashmîrî at one point formed his own splinter faction known as Brigade 313 and later on brought this group into the fold of al Qâ'idah in Khurasân (AfPâk). He was named the head of Qâ'idah al Jihâd in Kashmîr by the groups Commander in Khurasân Mustafa Abû al Yazîd (Shaykh Sa'îd) in a visual audio recording entitled "Whoever equips a fighter has fought" released in June 2010 - the last release of Shaykh Sa'îd as he was killed shortly before the release of his audio by an American drone strike in May 2010. Besides announcing Kashmîrî as the newest addition to al Qâ'idah the audio also served as a claim of responsibility for the German Bakery bombing in Pune on February 13th, 2010. So Kashmîrî was the mastermind behind the to my knowledge only al Qâ'idah attack in India.
(It gets interesting at about 24 minutes, the main theme of the audio is the obligation to support jihâd with money)
Kashmîrî has been linked to almost every major attack inside Pâkistân most prominently maybe the attack on the Naval Base in Karâchî on May 22nd, 2011 that was considered as revenge for the killing of Usâmah bin Lâdin earlier that month. To my knowledge the Pune bombing is the only terrorist attack that was claimed by al Qâ'idah as being led by Kashmîri.
As Kashmîrî got more important in al Qâ'idah (or was considered more important by the media or the US and PK intelligence services) he became a target for drone strikes. He was pronounced dead a number of times yet he always survived. His latest death was in June 2011 (see the same site for various RUMINT articles on his death, survival and connections).
Last week Pâkistânî newspapers reported on a recent meeting between Kashmîrî and TTP (Pâkistânî Tâlibân) leader Hakîmullah Mehsûd. Even a "renowned journalist from Islamabad" was there. Or so it was said. Yesterday al Qâ'idah's media wing al-Sahâb released a new visual audio recording by its main spokesperson for Pâkistân - Ustâdh Ahmad Fârûq - entitled "The cry of the Qur`ân". Fârûq casually confirmed the death of Kashmîrî by mentioning him among those of his heroes killed on Pâkistânî soil: "Baytullah Mehsûd, Ilyâs Kashmîrî and Amjad Fârûqî may Allah have mercy upon them".
(It gets interesting at about 8 minutes, the main theme is the recent Qur`ân burning in Afghânistân)
Call me imaginative but it looks a little bit like the source(s) of the recent newspaper article knew that this audio was to be released and considered it fun to embarrass the media. Well, not really. I suppose it was just a coincidence. But imagine ...
Anyway, Kashmîrî is confirmed dead and we should have learned once more that we should not trust just any source that is coming our or someone else's way. This is especially important if someone else is an English language newspaper in Pâkistân.
UPDATE: Ustâdh Ahmad Fârûq mentioned Kashmîrî's death once more in his latest visual audio speech concerning the death of Mullâ 'Ubayd Allah Akhûnd - see Jihadology for the video and an English translation.