Illyas Kashmiri may head Qaeda

Power shift: US feels unpopular Zawahiri is not the first choice

Illyas Kashmiri may head Qaeda

Illyas Kashmiri, who is on the most wanted list of the US FBI, may succeed bin Laden as Ayman al-Zawahiri the “presumed” successor, is deeply unpopular in some circles and his elevation is by no means guaranteed, NBC reported quoting a senior US official.

“His star has been on the rise for the last several years,” said the official. “He would have to be on the al-Qaeda short list.” Although Illyas Kashmiri is barely known to the American public, US 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 Tahawwur Hussain Rana who goes on trial next week, the channel said.

Rana is charged with providing cover for a Pakistani-born American terrorist, David Coleman Headley, who has confessed to conducting surveillance for the Mumbai terror attacks and plotting with Kashmiri to blow up a Danish newspaper in retaliation for its publication of cartoons of the prophet Muhammad.

The Pakistani former commando who has been linked to multiple terror plots—including a series of planned “Mumbai style” attacks in European cities last summer, according to US officials.An elusive figure who often wears heavily tinted aviator glasses, Kashmiri remains at large and active in plotting new attacks against the West, US officials say.
$5 million bounty

In April this year, the US has announced a bounty of $5 million on the head of Kashmiri.
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 militants against India, but broke from the Pakistani army and joined a terrorist group—called Harakat-ul Jihad-i-Islami (HUJI) —that has been closely aligned with the al-Qaeda.

So far, US officials have remained tight-lipped on whether they have found evidence in bin Laden’s compound that shows direct contacts between the now deceased al-Qaeda leader and Kashmiri. But hints of such links—and of Kashmiri’s interest in mass casualty terror plots —are contained in US court documents.One of those documents was filed in the US government’s case against Raja Laharib Khan, a Chicago cab driver from Pakistan, who was charged last year with providing material support to al-Qaeda.

An FBI affidavit unsealed as part of the court record in the case alleges that Khan claimed to have known Kashmiri for 15 years and made frequent visits to Pakistan to meet with him from 2008 to 2010.

In a March 17, 2010, conversation with an undercover agent in Chicago that was secretly recorded by the FBI, Khan described a 2008 meeting with Kashmiri in the Pakistani city of Miran Shah in which the two men allegedly discussed bin Laden.

He also allegedly told the undercover agent that Kashmiri planned to use money that Khan was sending him to purchase weapons and train mujahedeen recruits for operations “in Kashmir, Palestine, Bosnia, and Georgia, Russia.”

According to the indictment in Rana’s case, Kashmiri has based his terror operations in western Pakistan and starting in 2007 was “in regular contact with al-Qaeda.”Headley was at Chicago’s O’Hare airport, preparing to hop a flight to Philadelphia and then to Pakistan, where he planned to meet Kashmiri again when he was arrested by FBI agents on Oct 3, 2009.

He subsequently pleaded guilty and is expected to be the government’s witness against Rana.

Gilani told about raid at 2 am

»Pakistani Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani told Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani about the US operation against Osama bin Laden at 2 am that night, a media report has said.

Gilani told the Senate on Wednesday that Kayani was the first to inform him about the operation. “The general called up the prime minister at 2 am,” Dawn reported.

Gilani said Pakistan has not been isolated after the Abbottabad operation and that the international community was still supporting them.

Obama to address Muslims

»US President Barack Obama will deliver a speech reaching out to the Muslim world, in the aftermath of the killing of bin Laden and amid ongoing unrest in West Asia and N Africa, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

Obama is preparing a wide-ranging address to be delivered as early as next week in which he’ll make the case that bin Laden’s death, paired with popular uprisings sweeping the region, underscores the United States view that the al-Qaeda extremist group is a spent force in the Muslim world.

China wants a peek at copter
»Pakistan has hinted that all-weather friend China wants a peek at the US’ secret stealth-modified helicopter abandoned during the Navy Seal raid that killed bin Laden, according to a media report.

ABC news reported that Pakistani officials are interested in studying the remains of helicopter and they suggested that the Chinese are interested as well.

The apparent Pakistan and Chinese interest was reported even as a key US lawmaker demanded immediate return of the chopper debris for fear of American military secrets being compromised.

Mush blames ISI members
»Calling Pakistani intelligence’s failure to detect Osama bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad a “massive slip-up,”  former President Pervez Musharraf has admitted that “rogue” members of ISI and military may have helped the al-Qaeda chief hide in plain sight in the garrison city.

Musharraf said the “rogue” lower-level members of the ISI and military might have known about bin Laden’s location during the last year of his Presidency six years ago.

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