Left: a purported photograph of Ilyas Kashmiri after his death. Right: Ilyas Kashmiri before his death. The image on the left is published courtesy of the SITE Intelligence Group.
In addition to the statement released by Harkat ul Jihad-al-Islami spokesman Abu Hanzla Kashir that announced the death of top al Qaeda military leader Ilyas Kashmiri in the June 2 Predator airstrike in South Waziristan, HUJI also released a photograph that is purported to be Kashmiri after his death. The alleged photograph of Kashmiri above on the left and HUJI’s statement below have been republished with the permission of the SITE Intelligence Group.
Kashmiri was believed to be about 47 years old, and is known to have been blinded in one eye after fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan during the 1980s. Note that the picture shows the face of a clean-shaven man. Kashmiri is well known for photographs with his full beard and aviator sunglasses. One eye does appear to have been blinded, but is difficult to determine if that was the result of an injury years ago or an injury sustained in a Predator strike.
HUJI clearly is trying to pull a fast one here. With thanks to the many informed commenters here at Threat Matrix/The Long War Journal, we’ve learned that the photograph is actually that of Abu Dera Ismael Khan, one of the members of the suicide assault team that attacked Mumbai, India, in November 2008. You can see the image here.
This certainly calls into question the validity of the official HUJI statement made by Abu Hunzala Kashir. Keep in mind that another HUJI leader, Qari Mohammad Idrees, claimed Kashmiri was killed. So did HUJI botch the photograph, or are they attempting to fake Kashmiri’s death? If the latter, this would be the first time that I’ve detected this happening.
Translation of the statement released by HUJI on Kashmiri’s death:
On behalf of Harkat Jihad al-Islami 313 Brigade we confirm the fact that our leader and Commander-in-chief Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri, along with other companions, have been martyred in an American drone attack at 11:15 pm on June 3, 2011 and Insha Allah (God willing) the present pharaoh America will see our full revenge very soon. Our only target is America.Spokesperson
(Harkat ul Jihad al-Islami) 313 Brigade
June 4, 2011