Al Qaeda commander killed in Pakistan by drone

Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri, commander-in-chief of the Kashmiri militant group Harakat-ul Jihad-i-Islami, addressing a press conference in Islamabad, July 11, 2001. The United States and the United Nations on August 6, 2010 designated Pakistan's Harakat-ul Jihad al-Islami as a foreign terror group and blacklisted its commander, the US Treasury Department said. Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri, who the US labelled a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist," will have any of his assets in US jurisdiction frozen, and the listing will also "prohibit US persons from engaging in any transactions with him."
Getty Images/Saeed Khan

CBS News has learned that a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan in June killed senior al Qaeda commander Ilyas Kashmiri.

Kashmiri was believed to be a key planner of the Mumbai Terror attacks in 2008 and, according to sources, was involved in planning terror strikes in Europe last fall, which led to alerts across the continent.

Most recently, Kashmiri was al Qaeda's military operations chief in Pakistan, and was suspected of plotting attacks against U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

The U.S. had offered a $5 million reward for information leading to Kashmiri.

U.S. officials have not confirmed the attack but the news has already been reported widely in Pakistan. Many Pakistanis welcomed the news, including lawyer, Fareed Abbasi.

"The killing of Ilyas Kashmiri is good for the country and the nation. He was a terrorist who caused damage to our country, our defense institutions, our nation and the humanity," Addasi says.

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There is also mounting unease in the country about the use of U.S. drones inside Pakistan. Many say that too many innocent people are also killed in these attacks.

"There are contradictory reports about Ilyas Kashmiri's death. The poor people were also killed in drone attacks. We are bearing the brunt of these attacks, not the Americans. This is an American war which has been imposed upon us and we are fighting it," says Mohammad Faizan.

On Saturday, thousands of activists affiliated with Pakistan's main Islamist party, the Jamaat-e-Islami, gathered in Karachi for a two-day sit-in to protest the attacks.

They are also complaining about the U.S. military operation that killed Osama bin Laden last month.

"This sit-in is being staged because America is slowly trying to expand its control over Pakistan. The people of Pakistan want to see their country as a free nation; they want an end to American meddling here," says Mohammed Hussain Mehanti, the Karachi chief of Jamaat-e-Islami.

Pakistani opposition parties have joined in demands that the government take a strong stand against U.S. violation of Pakistani territory.