The U.S.-Pakistan Militant Most Wanted: One Down?

With the reported death of al Qaeda commander Ilyas Kashmiri in a U.S. drone attack in Pakistan over the weekend, the U.S. may be able to cross out the first name on a narrow list of militants recently targeted in joint U.S.-Pakistani initiative.

Late last month the U.S. provided the Pakistani government a list of five suspected terrorists and asked the Pakistanis to provide immediate intelligence on each, as first reported by ABC News.

READ: U.S. Presses Pakistan to Go After Specific Militant Leaders

It is not clear if Kashmiri's possible death -- which U.S. officials cannot confirm at this time -- was a result of intelligence shared by the Pakistanis, but on Friday a senior Pakistani official confirmed reports that a joint U.S-Pakistani intelligence team had been created specifically to go after militants.

Here are the militants with the distinction of being featured on the terror short list:

Ilyas Kashmiri, 'The Next Osama Bin Laden'

Ilyas Kashmiri joined the ranks of America's most wanted terrorists in April when the U.S. State Department announced a $5 million reward for information leading to his location.

Kashmiri is the commander of Harakut-ul-Jihad al-Islami, an al Qaeda-connected terror group believed to be responsible for several attacks in India and Pakistan, and allegedly provides logistical support for al Qaeda, according to the U.S. State Department. Kashmiri was considered a top possible contender for the leadership role for core al Qaeda following Osama bin Laden's death in May and had been referred to as "the next Osama bin Laden."

Pakistani government officials said early Monday they are "100 percent" sure Kashmiri was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan's South Waziristan last week, but several U.S. officials said they have not been able to confirm the death.

Sources told ABC News that after the drone attack, which claimed 16 lives, several of the bodies were blown beyond recognition. READ: Al Qaeda Leader Reported Killed By U.S. Missile Attack in Pakistan

Ayman al-Zawahiri, Bin Laden's Deputy

In the wake of Osama bin Laden's death, one of the first names to crop up as a possible replacement for the terror leader was that of his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Al-Zawahiri, a physician and founder of the Egyptian extremist group Egyptian Islamic Jihad, also helped found al Qaeda with bin Laden. He sports the largest bounty offered for information on any terrorist by the U.S. government -- $25 million and is wanted for his role in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, which claimed 224 lives.

Al-Zawahiri made a video appearance in April in which he discussed the revolt in Libya and called on Libyans to oust dictator Moammar Gadhafi before "Western aid... turns into invasions." He has not made a public statement about bin Laden's death.

READ: Al Qaeda Deputy Surfaces in Rare Online Video

Mullah Omar, Taliban Commander

The one-eyed Taliban commander Mullah Omar is also included on the list, but not necessarily for a targeted strike, U.S. officials told ABC News.

The U.S. is interested in determining whether Omar could play a role in political reconciliation in Afghanistan in the era after bin Laden. Two senior Afghan officials told ABC News the U.S. has already opened up a cautious dialogue with man believed to be an emissary of Omar's.

Still, the U.S. State Department website lists a $10 million reward for information leading to Omar who "remains at large and represents a continuing threat to America and her allies." U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin in early May he couldn't prove it, but he believed Pakistani officials knew where Omar is.

READ: Sen. Carl Levin Has 'No Doubt' Pakistani Officials Know Where Mullah Omar Is

Siraj Haqqani, Operational Leader of the Haqqani Network

U.S. commanders in the region have long labeled the Haqqani network as the most deadly organization in Afghanistan. Siraj Haqqani is its day-to-day commander. The group's militants execute most of their strikes against U.S. and coalition groups in Afghanistan but are actually believed to be based across the border in Pakistan, according to U.S. and Pakistani officials.

It wasn't clear whether the United States wants Haqqani killed or wants to determine whether he, too, can join a political reconciliation process. But most U.S. officials have not expressed any willingness to open a dialogue with Haqqani leaders.

Haqqani personally admitted to planning a 2008 attack on a hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan, that killed six people, including an American, as well as planning an assassination attempt on Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The U.S. government offers up to $5 million for information leading to Haqqani.

Afghan and American officials believe Pakistan's premiere intelligence service, the ISI, maintains influence over the Haqqani network and can help target it or convince it to open a political dialogue.

Atiya Abdel Rahman, Bin Laden's Connection to the World

Atiay Abdel Rahman, believed to be a key al Qaeda operations manager and recruiter, was Osama bin Laden's personal connection to the outside world as he helped direct al Qaeda plots from his Abbottabad, Pakistan, compound.

The State Department calls Rahman al Qaeda's "emissary in Iran" and a member of Libya's Islamic Fighting Group. He has been a part of al Qaeda for most of his life after joining as a teenager in the 1980s.

"Since then he has gained considerable stature in al-Qa'ida as an explosives expert and Islamic scholar," the State Department said.

Rahman was rumored to have been killed in a drone strike last fall, but his death was never confirmed.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...