Lashkar e Taiba

Many people worldwide consider Lashkar e Taiba (LeT), a Pakistani guerrilla group, as a violent, Islamic militant group http://www.counterextremism.com/threat/lashkar-e-taiba. This guerrilla group uses terrorist methods to establish power and fear around Asia. Lashkar e Taiba was established in 1989 by Hafiz Mohammed Saeed as the military branch of the Pakistani Islamist organization Markaz-ad-Dawa-wal-Irshad (MDI), which uses the Ahl-e-Hadith (AeH) Islam interpretation, but it allegedly broke from the group in 2002 http://web.stanford.edu/group/mappingmilitants/cgi-bin/groups/view/79. The LeT originally focused on the Soviet presence in Afghanistan but then redirected its attention to the dispute over Jammu and Kashmir. To create stability in India, Pakistan’s government, Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) has supported this group since around 1990. The LeT sees the dispute over the territory as a global struggle against the oppression of Muslims. The militant group wishes to establish an Islamic caliphate in the Indian subcontinent. The exact number of LeT members is currently unknown but it probably has a couple thousand members https://www.nctc.gov/site/groups/lt.html. Most of the members are Pakistani nationalists looking to see Kashmir and Jammu under Pakistani rule.

The first LeT attack occurred in 1990 as they ambushed a small number of Indian Air Force personnel. Until the mid 1990’s the LeT exclusively targeted India’s military in Jammu and Kashmir. On January 5, 1996 the group became infamous for multiple massacres as it targeted a minority group in Kashmir and killed 16 Hindus. The most notable attack, known as the Chattisinghpora attack, occurred in 2000 and caused the death of 35 Sikhs in Anantnag the night before Bill Clinton visited India.

LeT’s larger goal is to eliminate India’s power in the entire region and not just in the Jammu and Kashmir area. To recruit Indian Muslims to carry out terrorist attacks in India, Hafiz Saeed exploited tensions between Hindus and Muslims. The Red Fort attack in New Delhi was one of the first of the attacks carried out by recruited Indians, which was symbolic because it was where the last Muslim rulers of the Indian sub-continent resided. This established LeT as a militant threat to India, but it was not one of their more devastating attacks.

Due to the group’s attack in New Delhi in December 2001, India mobilized approximately 700,000 soldiers along its border with Pakistan. By doing so, India threatened war unless Islamic militants ceased crossing the border. In response, Pakistan mobilized its military along the boarder as well. The US ultimately stepped in to defuse tensions by acknowledging the difference between the state of Pakistan and terrorist groups working within Pakistan for the first time. The LeT was officially added to the US’s foreign terrorist organization list in 2002, which ultimately forced the Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to ban the LeT http://www.cfr.org/pakistan/lashkar-e-taiba-army-pure-aka-lashkar-e-tayyiba-lashkar-e-toiba-lashkar–taiba/p17882. In 2005, the UN recognized the LeT as a terrorist organization.

Following these events analysts believe that the group has gone underground, split up, has been going by various different names and has stopped taking responsibility for attacks. According to India, the LeT has split into two main factions over the past few years; the al-Mansurin and the al-Nasirin http://www.cfr.org/pakistan/lashkar-e-taiba-army-pure-aka-lashkar-e-tayyiba-lashkar-e-toiba-lashkar–taiba/p17882. According to accounts, in 2005 Pakistan’s officials were resistant to moving against the LeT. The group has decreased the number of attacks in India to help Pakistan honor US and Indian commitments; however, Saeed continues to roam free and grow his organization despite the split in control.

There have been rumors that Lashkar e Taiba and al-Qaeda are linked together. In 2002, a senior member of al-Qaeda, Abu Zubaydah, was seized at a LeT safe house in Faisalabad, Pakistan. Some believe that Lashkar e Taiba is no longer Pakistan’s weapon in the fight for Kashmir, but rather a member of al-Qaeda http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2009/11/lashkaretaiba_is_a_member_of_a.php. LeT operates throughout southern and Southeast Asia, and because of its large network, various resources and ability to carry out complex attacks throughout the region, a senior US military intelligence official nicknamed the organization as “al-Qaeda junior.” Some individuals believe LeT has the capability to take al-Qaeda’s place if it collapses.

Lashkar e Taiba has frightened governments and civilians with its numerous attacks, massacres and destruction. The guerrilla group has proven itself quite capable of putting fear in people even when it is forced underground. Even as a disassembled organization, people still affiliate it with larger and more prominent terrorist organizations and even believe it could replace a group such as al-Qaeda.

 

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