Ilyas Kashmiri came from the Kotli District of Azad-Kashmir, the Pakistani administrated part of Kashmir. Ilyas Kashmiri was a junior commander in Afghanistan in the war against the Russians in the 80s’. He trained the Afghan Mujahideen in mine warfare in Miranshah on behalf of Pakistani ISI and at one point lost an eye.
After the war ended with the withdrawal of the Soviet Union from Afghanistan in 1989, Ilyas Kashmiri continued his official militant work in Kashmir with the Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami – HuJI. Disagreements with leader Qari Saifullah Akhtar led Ilyas Kashmiri, in the mid 90s’, to establish his own new unit within HuJI, know as the 313 Brigade.
During the mid-1990s Ilyas Kashmiri and Nasrullah Mansoor Langrial were captured by the Indian Army near Poonch in Indian Kashmir and sent to prison, where he would spend the next two years before escaping and returning to Pakistan. Upon his return Ilyas Kashmiri continued to conduct operations against India, once reportedly being rewarded personally with cash by then Army Chief General Pervez Musharraf for presenting the head of a dead Indian army officer.
In 2000 Ilyas Kashmiri rejected orders from ISI to serve under Maulana Masood Azhar in the newly founded Jaish-e-Mohammed and was even once targeted by the group. Falling out of favor with the Pakistani military, he was even taken into custody and tortured in late 2003 in the wake of President Musharraf’s assassination attempts in 12/2003 (see – Rawalpindi attempt).
In 02/2004 Ilyas Kashmiri was released from jail. Until the Lal Mosque Crisis, in 07/2007, he apparently did little, but afterwards he returned to the 313 Brigade in Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami and rebuilt its strength while collaborating with the Taliban. Ilyas Kashmiri moved his base of operation from his home town Kotli, in Kashmir, to FATA – Waziristan, Razmak district, on the Afghan border.
Ilyas Kashmiri was pronounced dead following the USA UAV missile attack, on 09/14/2009, in which Kalimullah Mehsud was, probably, killed, but later reports suggested he escaped the attack unharmed. Ilyas Kashmiri granted an interview with Asia Times Online in mid 10/2009. Ilyas Kashmiri was associated with a number of attacks, including a 2008 plan to assassinate the Pakistani Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, but Al Qaeda leadership rejected the plan on strategic grounds.
Ilyas Kashmiri was in regular contact for some time with David C. Headley, who was arrested in Chicago, USA, on 10/27/2009 and was involved in the Mumbai Carnage preparations . Their communications suggested that they were in the process of plotting fresh attacks in India. (It is most likely that the communication was monitored by USA intelligence, which led to the missile attack, on 09/14/2009, in which Kalimullah Mehsud was killed). Ilyas Kashmiri was also in contact with Raja L. Khan, a Pakistani from Chicago, who was arrested in USA for sending money to support terror in Pakistan, on Friday 03/26/2010.
* Ilyas Kashmiri was charged, on 01/14/2010, in absentia, in USA, with plotting international terror attacks (see – Chicago 01.14.10 ).
* Following the Times-Square plot investigation, in 05/2010, Intelligence sources said that the prime suspect Faisal Shahzad was, during his visit to Peshawar in 07/2009, in direct contact with Illyas Kashmiri.
* The USA announced a reward of $5 million, on Wednesday 04/06/2011, for information leading to the arrest of HuJI commander Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri, holding him responsible for a 2006 attack on its consulate in Karachi (see – US Consulate Bombing), among others. He is also believed, according to some reports, of masterminding the Mehran Attack, on 05/23/2011.
* According to local villagers in South Waziristan Ilyas Kashmiri was killed by a US UAV drone missile strike on the village of Laman, on Friday 06/03/2011 night, Along with 9 other militants. In a faxed message to two Pakistani channels – Express TV and Sama TV – a man claiming to be a spokesman of the 313 Brigade also said Kashmiri had been killed. The man, who called himself Abu Hanzallah, said the death would be avenged against the Americans.
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