On Friday, US drones attacked a home in South Waziristan Agency, killing seven people. Over the weekend officials exultantly announced that among the slain was Ilyas Kashmiri, a militant leader accused of involvement in the Mumbai attacks and who US officials suggested might be in line to replace Osama Bin Laden.
Confirmation came quick, with Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik saying he was “100% certain” that Kashmiri was dead. It was the second time Kashmiri was confirmed killed by a US drone, the previous time in 2009. This time the confidence has faded much more quickly.
That’s because US officials are now saying that they had never found any confirmation of Kashmiri’s death and that “more likely than not” he was still alive. Officials also said that it “wouldn’t be the first time” they mistakenly reported a death.
Lost in all of this is a question which, as usual, seems destined to go unanswered. When US missiles pounded what was apparently not Ilyas Kashmiri, and killed seven people who were apparently not him, who exactly did they kill?