Two senior al Qaeda commanders are thought to have been killed in the most recent airstrike in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
Ilyas Kashmiri and Nazimuddin Khilalof (or Najmuddin Jalolov) are said to have been killed during the Sept. 14 airstrike in the village of Turikhel near the town of Mir Ali in Taliban-controlled North Waziristan, according to a report in Geo News. The report has not been confirmed, and US intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal would not comment on the status of Kashmiri and Nazimuddin.
Ilyas Kashmiri is considered by US intelligence to be one of al Qaeda’s most dangerous commanders. He is the operational chief of the Harakat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI), an al Qaeda-linked terror group that operates in Pakistan, Kashmir, India, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. Kashmiri was recently listed as the fourth most wanted terrorist by Pakistan’s Interior Ministry.
Kashmiri is thought to have played a major role in the multi-pronged suicide attack against government and security installations in the eastern Afghan province of Khost in May, the military intelligence official said.
Last year, Kashmiri reportedly drafted a plan to assassinate General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani, Pakistan’s top military officer, but the plan was canceled by al Qaeda’s senior leadership, according to a report in the Asia Times.
Harakat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, Laskhar-e-Jhangvi, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and several other Pakistani terror groups have merged with al Qaeda in Pakistan, and operate under the name of Brigade 313. This group is interlinked with Pakistan’s Taliban and also recruits senior members of Pakistan’s military and intelligence services, a senior US official told The Long War Journal.
Brigade 313 has been behind many of the high-profile attacks and bombings inside Pakistan, including multiple assassination attempts against former President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Gilani. Brigade 313 is one of the six known units in the Lashkar al Zil, al Qaeda’s paramilitary Shadow Army.
Kashmiri was thought to have been one of the targets of the Sept. 7 strike in Mir Ali. Mustafa al Jaziri, a senior military commander for al Qaeda who sits on al Qaeda’s military shura, is thought to have been killed in the strike, but Kashmiri is thought to have escaped that time.
Nazimuddin Khilalof is described as an Uzbek national who serves as a senior aide to none other than Osama bin Laden. Khilalof is also known as Yahio. While the report does not indicate this, Nazimuddin Khilalof is Najmuddin Jalolov, the leader of the Islamic Jihad Group (or Islamic Jihad Union). A US military intelligence official confirmed that Najmuddin was the target of the raid and he is thought to have been killed in the strike.
Najmuddin and the Islamic Jihad Group are based out of the Mir Ali region in North Waziristan and maintain close ties with al Qaeda. The Islamic Jihad Group broke off from Tahir Yuldashev’s Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The Islamic Jihad Group is a Specially Designated Global Terrorist organization.
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