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Killing of top Al Qaeda militant Ilyas Kashmiri only a small US victory

Efforts to chip away at the most wanted list and chase militants from one Afghanistan-Pakistan border region to the next come with high costs and are not yet putting militant outfits out of business, say experts.

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A supporter of the Pakistani religious party Jamaat-e-Islami shouts during a rally against drone attacks Saturday, in Karachi, Pakistan. Ilyas Kashmiri, a top al-Qaida commander and possible replacement for Osama bin Laden who is accused of the 2008 Mumbai massacre, was killed in an American drone-fired missile strike close to the Afghan border.

Fareed Khan/AP

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The details surrounding the apparent death of top Al Qaeda militant Ilyas Kashmiri late Friday show a short-term win for the US approach toward Pakistan, but little long-term headway in the war.

Mr. Kashmiri helped plot attacks ranging from the 2008 Mumbai massacre to an effort to strike US defense firm Lockheed-Martin, which makes drones. Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik said he’s “98 percent sure” that Kashmiri is dead, cut down by a drone late Friday near Wana in the South Waziristan region bordering Afghanistan.

The death of Kashmiri would appear to be the latest fruit of US persistence, pushing onward despite Pakistani demonstrations against drones, bruised relations with the Pakistani military, and an American public skeptical of continued engagement here.

But these efforts to chip away at the most wanted list and chase militants from one region to the next come with high costs and are not yet putting militant outfits out of business, say experts.

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