Ilyas Kashmiri, the butcher of Poonch-Rajouri, set the tone for militancy in Kashmir in the early 1990s, when he crossed over from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and set up his network of death.
“Kashmiri’s death (in a US drone attack) will affect the terrorist infrastructure across the border and it will have a significant effect here,” state inspector general of police SM Sahai told Hindustan Times.
Accused of beheading a number of armymen — one earned him a prize from former Pakistan president General Pervez Musharraf — to strike terror in the heart of the Indian establishment, Kashmiri was the key operational leader of the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) that mainly comprised men from PoK, his native place.
He was arrested by the army during his first stint in India, but managed to escape after two months.
But he came back to avenge the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Pakistani journalist Sayed Salim Shahzad — who was found dead on May 30 after writing an article suggesting links between some Pakistani military personnel and the al Qaeda — had also written about Kashmiri.
After interviewing him in October 2009, Shahzad wrote that Kashmiri was the mastermind behind the attack on the army’s Akhnoor camp, 30 km from Jammu, on July 23, 2003.
Nine armymen, including Brigadier VK Govil, died, while Northern Command chief Lt Gen Hari Prasad was seriously injured.
In 1994, Kashmiri operated in Delhi also. He was involved — along with Syed Omar Sheikh, who is accused of killing journalist Daniel Pearl — in the kidnapping of four foreigners. Shaikh was arrested in Sahibabad while Kashmiri escaped.
Although he joined the al Qaeda in 2005, Kashmiri’s India focus never wavered.