Asked whether attacks also were planned for Israel and the United States, Kashmiri said, “I am not a traditional jihadi cleric who is involved in sloganeering. As a military commander, I would say every target has a specific time and reasons, and the responses will be forthcoming accordingly.”
Drone strikes have killed a number of militant commanders, including Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud.
Fran Townsend, who was a homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush, said the drone strikes have been effective in disrupting al Qaeda’s leadership but required follow-up to verify the intelligence that led to the target.
“Usually you use more than one kind of intelligence,” she said. “You use a combination of intelligence, human intelligence, forensics, signals intelligence and geospatial intelligence. One would suspect this strike was unsuccessful; the question we need to ask the government is why was this strike unsuccessful.”
Daveed Gartenstein Ross, vice president of research for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington think tank, said, “Both U.S. and Pakistani leaders were certain at the time of the air strike that Kashmiri was dead. This creates a question about what kind of intelligence we are getting back after air strikes.”
The senior U.S. official who said that Kashmiri appears not to have died added that a misfire does not diminish the success of the drone strategy.
“After all, we’re talking about terrorists who have been under intense pressure recently, who spend a lot of time thinking about their safety, and who have an obvious interest in deception,” he said.