A family in Anantnag district in South Kashmir has claimed that their son, who features in an al-Qaeda propaganda video, was killed in a US drone strike in Waziristan area of Pakistan in January this year.
In perhaps first such instance, Nazir Ahmad Dar claimed that his brother, Mohammad Ashraf Dar, was among the six al-Qaeda militants killed in the drone strike.
Ashraf alias Umar Kashmiri, who was reported missing by his family in 2001, featured in a video released this week on ‘jihadi’ networks by As-Sahab, the media arm of al-Qaeda in Indian subcontinent (AQIS) as part of its series ‘Jihadi Memories’, eulogising its martyrs.
“The man shown in the video is my brother Mohammad Ashraf,” Dar told reporters at Nagam village in Kokernag area of Anantnag district.
The three-and-a-half-minute video claimed Ashraf to be a resident of “Islamabad area of Kashmir”, referring to Anantnag district. Ashraf, son of Ghulam Ahmad Dar, went missing on August 13, 2001, when he was a 15-year-old.
The family claimed that they were informed by a local Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Noor-ul-Haq, that Ashraf had crossed the LoC for arms training — a fact confirmed by the militant through a telephone call to his family three years later.
The family also claimed that Ashraf stayed in constant touch with it over phone till December last year and he did mention ‘jihad’ and Afghanistan in his conversations.
Dar said the family made a lot of efforts to persuade Ashraf to return home but he remained defiant.
In the video, which is not available on the web now, Ashraf is seen sitting alongside his associates, talking about parents and family. He is also seen leading the prayers.
AQIS said Ashraf alongside Qari Imran, outfit in-charge of Afghan affairs, was killed in a US drone attack on January 5.
While intelligence officials confirmed that Ashraf had been reported missing for the past 14 years and had crossed over to Pakistan for arms training, police officials did not comment on the claims of the family.
“We are not sure whether Ashraf has been killed but he was reported to have crossed the border for arms training,” an official of an intelligence agency said.