Lashkar-e-Taiba

Formed1990
DisbandedGroup is active.
First Attack1993: Attack on Kashmiri pandits in Jammu (23 killed).[1]
Last AttackNovember 26, 2008: Armed assault on multiple locations in Mumbai, India, including the Taj Mahal hotel (166 killed, 200 wounded).[2]
UpdatedAugust 3, 2012

Narrative Summary

LeT is the militant wing of the well-known Ahle-Haith group Markaz-ad-Dawa-wal-Irshad (MDI). MDI is a religious missionary and charity organization formed in 1986 with the merger of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi's group and Jamaat ud Dawaa (JuD) led by Hafiz Muhammad Saeed.[3] LeT was formed in 1990 and initially trained in the Kunar province of Afghanistan.[4] Based out of Muridke near Lahore, Pakistan, LeT is headed by the emir of JuD, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed. Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi is now the operational commander of LeT.[5] 

LeT first came to fore in Indian controlled Jammu and Kashmir in 1993 when twelve LeT operatives infiltrated across the Line of Control (LoC) killing 23 Kashmiri pandits in the Jammu area of Indian controlled Kashmir.[6]  Pakistan banned LeT on January 12, 2002, after which JuD became the front organization for LeT in Pakistan.[7] 

LeT was the first of many Pakistani groups to train at Taliban-controlled camps in Afghanistan during the 1990s. Its cadres fought alongside the Taliban against the Northern Alliance forces. LeT allegedly became close to Pakistan's intelligence service ISI during this time.[8] The ISI supported LeT because of the group's effort toward Kashmir's merger with Pakistan and because LeT was ethnically similar in makeup to Pakistan's security apparatus. LeT also needed support from ISI to survive as it lacked support of mainstream Ahle-Hadith groups because of its strict interpretation of the concept of Jihad. 

LeT began carrying out operations in Indian-controlled Kashmir in the 1990s. It actively infiltrated militants across the Line of Control (LoC) from Pakistan to carry out sabotage activities with the help of the ISI and the Pakistan Army. LeT did not however restrict its operations to Kashmir. LeT also carried out multiple attacks in major urban centers of India, such as the October 29, 2005 bomb attacks across New Delhi which killed at least 62 and injured over a hundred.[9]  

LeT has held active ties with Al Qaeda since the early 1990s through its operational commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, who is the brother-in-law of a bin Laden deputy, Abu Abdur Rahman Sareehi.[10] LeT actively collaborated with Al Qaeda post-9/11. LeT leaders were paid 100,000 USD to protect Al Qaeda leaders of Arab origin in Pakistan, house their families and arrange for their travel from Pakistan. In March 2002, senior Al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah was captured at an LeT safe house in Faisalabad.[11] 

LeT also carried out the strategically significant November 26, 2008 attack in Mumbai.[12] Several gunmen of Pakistani origin attacked multiple sites in Mumbai simultaneously, killing more than 160 people.  

LeT's has several thousand members, mainly Pakistanis.[13] Elements of LeT are active in Afghanistan and the group also recruits internationally, as evidenced by the indictment of 11 Americans with ties to LeT in Virginia in 2003.[14] 

Leadership

LeT has a very hierarchal organizational structure. Its cadres are organized at district levels with district commanders in charge. Within Pakistan, the organization has a network of training camps and branch offices, some of which are run by its front organization JuD for recruitment and collection of finances. It is mostly comprised of cadres from Pakistan and Afghanistan, but a few militants also come from Sudan, Bahrain, Central Asia, Turkey and Libya.[15] The strategic decisions of the organization are taken by a committee consisting of emir Naib Amir (deputy chief), the finance chief and a few other members.  

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed is the founder and emir of LeT.  He was heavily involved in the training and planning of the 2008 Mumbai attacks. [16][17] Yahiya Mujahid serves as the spokesman of the group. Sajid Mir is the Commander of Overseas Operations and Maulana Abdul Wahid is a senior leader of the group.[18] Zaki-Ur-Rehman Lakhvi is Supreme Commander of Kashmir and the operational commander of LeT.[19] Rahman-ur-Dakhil is Deputy Supreme Commander, Abdullah Shehzad alias Abu Anas alias Shamas is Chief Operations Commander Valley, Abdul Hassan is Central Division Commander, Kari Saif-Ul-Rahman is North Division Commander, Kari Saif-Ul-Islam is Deputy Commander, Masood is Area Commander of Sopore, Hyder-e-Krar is Deputy Commander of Bandipora, Usman Bhai alias Saif-Ul-Islam is Deputy Commander of Lolab, Abdul Nawaz Deputy Commander of Sogam, Abu Rafi is Deputy Divisional Commander, Baramulla, Abdul Nawaz Deputy Commander of Handwara, and Abu Museb alias Saifulla is Deputy Commander of Buttagram.

  1. Hafiz Muhammad Saeed (1990 to 2011): Saeed is the founder and emir of LeT.

Ideology & Goals

LeT is a Sunni group, which follows the Ahle-Haith interpretation of Islam.[20] The Ahle-Hadith interpretation is similar to Salafism and Wahabism. LeT's declared goals include conducting jihad in the way of Allah, preaching the true religion and training of a new generation along true Islamic lines. 

Unlike Deoband groups operating in Pakistan, LeT aligns its ideological goals with the interests of the Pakistani state. It seeks to liberate Kashmir and merge it with Pakistan using violent means. The group however does not believe in attacking Muslims in its struggle against aggression and oppression. It aims to change the regional and geopolitical dynamic of Afghanistan, Pakistan and India by attacking civilian targets.[21]

Name Changes

After being banned in Pakistan, LeT has used different names for carrying out its activities.[22] The names include Al Mansooreen; Al Mansoorian; Army of the Pure; Army of the Pure and Righteous; Army of the Righteous; Jamaat ud-Dawa and Al Monsooreen; Lashkar e-Toiba; Lashkar-i-Taiba; Paasban-e-Ahle-Hadis; Paasban-e-Kashmir; Paasban-i-Ahle-Hadith; Pasban-e-Ahle-Hadith; Pasban-e-Kashmir.

Size Estimates

Designated/Listed

LeT was declared a foreign terrorist organization by the United States on December 26, 2001 and the by United Nations in May 2005.[24] It was also banned by Pakistan in 2002.[25]

LeT's front organization, JuD, was designated as an alias for LeT in December 2008.

Resources

LeT has training camps spread across Pakistan and Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. The group maintains camps, recruitment centers and offices in Muzaffarabad, Lahore, Peshawar, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Karachi, Multan, Quetta, Gujranwala, Sialkot, and Gilgit.[26] LeT over the years has also used the facilities of MDI and JuD to collect donations.[27] 

Because of its Salafi ideological bent, LeT has received large amounts of aid from donors from the Middle East such as the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia in particular.[28] [29] 

LeT has been financially and logistically assisted by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) over the years, though the current state of LeT's cooperation with ISI is unclear.[30] David Coleman Headley and Rana Tasawar Hussain, two LeT operatives who are being held in the US on charges of involvement in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, have testified to receiving financial and logistical support for carrying out the attacks from military officials, who are suspected to be ISI officers.

External Influences

The external influences on LeT can be broken down in three parts: the ideological leaning of the group,  the influence of the ISI and the influence of the Taliban in Afghanistan and Al Qaeda. 

LeT's ideological influences include the Ahle-Hadith, Salafi, and Wahabi interpretations of Islam. The group is able to draw recruits from followers of these traditions and enjoys cordial relations with Wahabi and Salafi groups in the Middle East.[31] LeT's understanding of jihad, however, is more extreme than most Ahle-Hadith groups in Pakistan. 

LeT has received financial and political support from Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency, the ISI. Due to international pressure, the ISI and the Pakistan Army have clamped down on groups like LeT, which operate across the LoC from Pakistan, over the past several years. As a result, ISI's leverage on and support for LeT has decreased.[32]  

LeT's strategic designs are similar to those of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. It considers jihad against non-believers to be mandatory and is opposed to US military presence in Afghanistan. Unlike Al Qaeda, however, it has never carried out an operation against the Pakistani state, most likely because of its close ties with the ISI. Al Qaeda's influence on and relationship with LeT was demonstrated following the death of Osama bin Laden when LeT's front organization JuD was one of the only groups to offer funeral prayers for him in Pakistan.[33]

Geographical Locations

LeT's primary area of operation in the 1990s was Jammu and Kashmir. From early 2000s onwards, the group carried out attacks in various parts of India, including in New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Varanasi, Kolkata, and Gujarat. It reportedly has cells in many cities and towns outside of Jammu and Kashmir in India. 

LeT's Pakistani headquarters are in Muridke, a town near Lahore in the Punjab province. It also has a well-established base in Muzaffarabad, located in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.

Targets & Tactics

Historically LeT's main targets have been Indian state officials and buildings in Jammu and Kashmir, as well as Indian civilian targets in major urban areas. LeT seeks to use its attacks strategically in order to affect geopolitical changes in South Asia. According to analyst Juan Zarate, "Lashkar-i-Taiba holds the match that could spark a conflagration between nuclear-armed historic rivals India and Pakistan."[34] 

LeT has demonstrated its capacity to carry out bombing attacks, armed assaults in urban areas (as demonstrated by the Mumbai attack of 2008 and Parliament attacks of 2001), armed assaults against military targets along Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir, and even maritime operations (as demonstrated in the 2008 Mumbai attacks). 

According to journalist Steve Coll, "Lashkar is a big organization with multiple arms and priorities and its leadership is undoubtedly divided over how much risk to take in pursuit of violent operations in India, particularly given the comfort and even wealth the group's leaders enjoy from their unmolested activities inside Pakistan."[35]

Political Activities

LeT and its affiliate groups have supported and been supported by political groups in Pakistan. LeT's political front, JuD, has strong ties to the main Deobandi groups in Pakistan. Jamat-e-Ulema-Islami (Fazal-ur-Rehman) and Jamaat -e-Islami, mainstream religious political parties of Pakistan, have also been linked with LeT.[36] JuD was formed following LeT's designation on the U.S. FTO list, allowing leader Hafeez Muhammad Saeed to carry on operations under the front of JuD. JuD has taken part in political activities, such as protests against the US presence in Afghanistan, US-Pakistan partnership on anti-terrorism, and Indian occupation of Kashmir. The organization itself, however, is not tied to any particular political party, and JuD has also now been banned by the United States Department of State.

Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), a powerful Pakistani opposition party in the Punjab provincewarned JuD of the possibility it being banned by United Nations, allowing it to empty its bank accounts and close down its operations before an impending government crackdown.[37]

Major Attacks

LeT carried out the strategically significant November 26, 2008 attack in Mumbai.[38] Several gunmen of Pakistani origin attacked multiple sites in Mumbai simultaneously, killing more than 160 people. 

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, India and Pakistan had a stiff military confrontation along their border. India accused Pakistan of involvement in the attacks, suspecting ISI's role. Pakistan denied such allegations. Indian government arrested one of the attackers, Ajmal Qasab, who confirmed the involvement of LeT in the attacks.[39] 

Pakistan, under international pressure, detained several LeT leaders connected to the Mumbai attacks. David Headley, an American citizen, was also arrested in connection with the attacks.[40] He pleaded guilty in March 2010 to scouting targets in Mumbai for LeT.

  1. December 13, 2001: A high-profile attack on the Parliament House building in New Delhi. Five attackers, six police officials and one civilian killed. Led to increased military and diplomatic tensions between India and Pakistan. (12 killed).[41]
  2. October 28, 2005: Attack on the Indian Institutute of Science campus in Bangalore. (1 killed).[42]
  3. October 29, 2005: A series of three coordinated bomb attacks across markets in New Delhi (62 killed, 100+ wounded).[43]
  4. March 7, 2006: Attack on Varanasi (21 killed, 62 wounded).[44]
  5. July 11, 2006: Attack on Mumbai commuter trains (180 killed).[45]
  6. August 2007: Attack against an amusement park in Hyperbad. ().
  7. November 26, 2008: Coordinated bombing and shooting attacks by ten gunmen on multiple targets across Mumbai city, including the Taj Mahal hotel. Only surviving gunman, Ajmal Kasab, confirms members of the group belong to LeT. (166 killed).[46]
  8. February 13, 2010: Indian authorities speculate that LeT may have contributed surveillance and planning for the bombing of a German bakery in Pune. (9 killed).[47]

Relationships with Other Groups

LeT was formed as the militant branch of Markaz-ad-Dawa-wal-Irshad (MDI) in 1990.[48] MDI was formed by the merger of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi's group and JuD in 1986. After JuD became inactive in the 1990s, MDI assumed the role of parent organization to LeT. 

In 2002, after LeT was banned by the Pakistan government, JuD was reactivated and MDI was merged into JuD. JuD then became the front organization of LeT. 

LeT has had an affiliation with Al Qaeda and its forerunner, Maktab al Khidmat, since 1990s.[49] LeT's alliance with Al Qaeda was reconfirmed in 2002, when senior Al Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah was arrested from an LeT safehouse in Faisalabad. 

LeT became part of the United Jihad Council in 1993-94. As part of the organization, it formed alliances with Harkatul Mujhaideen (HM), Hizb ul Mujhaideen (HuM), Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) and Harkat-ul-Jihadi-Islami (HuJI) against Indian military assets in India controlled Kashmir.  [50] LeT has also networked with several Islamist extremist organizations across India and Pakistan, including the Indian Mujahideen and United Jihad Council (UJC). 

LeT developed a rivalry with HuJI and JeM in 2004 when ISI launched a crackdown against the members of these groups because of suspicions that they were involved in attacks on the then President General Pervez Musharraf. HuJI and JeM decided to distance themselves from LeT following this incident because of its close ties to ISI. 

In 2010, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi-Al-Almi (LeJ-AA) and the Asian Tigers declared LeT to be their rival because of its relationship with the ISI.[51][52]

Community Relationships

LeT organizes its charitable activities through its front organization, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD). 

JuD took an active part in providing humanitarian relief to the victims of the October 2005 earthquake in Kashmir.[53] JuD also runs 173 schools across Pakistan, three hospitals in Punjab, and operates 66 ambulances.[54] 

During the 2010 floods in Pakistan, JuD and an affiliated charity, the Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation, were widely reported to have provided aid to flood victims.[55] 

According to Steve Coll, "With its hospitals, universities, and social-service wings, Lashkar is akin to Hezbollah or Hamas; it is a three-dimensional political and social movement with an armed wing, not merely a terrorist or paramilitary outfit."[56] JuD's activities, however, have been limited since December 2008 after UN's designation of the group as an alias for LeT.


References

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  55. ^ GEO TV?: Pakistan Flood 2010 Relief Camp and Activities By JAMAT UD DAWA FLAH E INSANIAT FOUNDATION, 2010. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mnak1kVZmw
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