Huge: U.S. drone strike kills top AQ commander Ilyas Kashmiri

Kashmiri’s death would be a major blow to al Qaeda and allied terror groups in the region. He is considered to be one of the contenders to take command of al Qaeda after Osama bin Laden’s was killed during a May 2, 2011 raid by US SEALs in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

He is considered by US intelligence to be one of al Qaeda’s most effective commanders. He served as the operational chief of the Harkat-ul Jihad Islami, an al which that operates in Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. The Harkat-ul Jihad Islami was designated as a terrorist entity by the US in 2010, and Kashmiri was added to the list of global terrorists for his role in leading HUJI as well as for his links to al Qaeda.

Kashmiri has also been linked to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, which has viewed him as an asset due to his prowess in fighting the Indians in Jammu and Kashmir. He is said to have been a member of Pakistan’s Special Services Group, although he denied it in an interview with the Asia Times in 2010. One legend attributed to Kashmiri is that he beheaded a sepoy and presented the head to General Pervez Musharraf.