According to documents taken from his compound and obtained by the Washington Post, Osama bin Laden “commanded his network to organize special cells in Afghanistan and Pakistan to attack the aircraft of President Obama and Gen. David H. Petraeus.” The documents indicate that bin Laden had a specific person in mind for the job: Pakistani terrorist Ilyas Kashmiri. According to administration officials, the plan never got very far. But who was Ilyas Kashmiri?
A March 2011 report on Sunni militancy in India gives some perspective. While Kashmiri was primarily known as a Pakistan-based al Qaeda operative, he claimed involvement in a 2010 bombing attack in India that killed over a dozen people. According to the report, Kashmiri also “expressed a desire to export Mumbai-style combined-arms attacks to European cities.” According to the authors, that statement suggested that global jihadism hadn’t only influenced militancy in India, but that militancy within India was also beginning to influence worldwide terrorist movements—including anti-Western movements like al-Qaeda. Of course, Kashmiri’s role in that process would soon be over: A month after U.S. forces killed bin Laden, Kashmiri himself was killed in a drone strike.