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What is Lashkar-e-Taiba?

Interesting Article: Diversified, Not Diminished: Al Qaeda in Pakistan since 9/11 By REZA JAN / Washington, DC published Wednesday, September 21, 2011
A recent article by Reza Jan speaks about the mutation of al Qaeda-esque organizations to adapt to its new environment in Pakistan. One of the organizations-Lashkar-e-Taiba-has seen a rise in prominence after their 2008 Mumbai attacks. So what is this terror group about?


Lashkar-e-Taiba (also known as Lashkar-i-Tayyaba, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Lashkar-i-Taiba, Lashkar Taiba or LeT), was founded by Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and Zafar Iqbal. Hafiz Muhammad Saeed (Saeed) was born in Sargodha to a conservative Pakistani Punjabi family, little else is known about his early childhood. Saeed came into prominence when he was appointed by General Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq (sixth President of Pakistan from July 1977 - August 1988) to the Council on Islamic Ideology. Saeed later served as an Islamic Studies teacher at the University of Engineering and Technology (Lahore) and was sent to Saudi Arabia in the early 1980s by the university for higher studies. In Saudi Arabia he met several Saudi Sheikhs who were taking part in the Afghan jihad and convinced him to join the movement. In 1987, Saeed, along with Abdullah Azzam, founded Markaz Dawa-Wal-Irshad,  the first version of the jihadist group. In 1990 Lashkar-e-Taiba officially came into it's own with the primary target being the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Since then Saeed has been quite active in operations against India; he was arrested for the December 2001 attack on the lower house of the Parliament of India (was arrested  and held in Pakistan until March 31, 2002, arrested again on May 15, and was placed under house arrest on October 31 of the same year, he was later released), The July 11th, 2006 Mumbai Train Bombings (Pakistan arrested him on August 9, 2006 and kept him under house arrest but he was released on August 28, 2006 after a Lahore High Court order. He was arrested again on the same day by the provincial government and was kept in the Canal Rest House in Sheikhupura. He was released again after a Lahore High Court order on October 17, 2006) and the November 2008 Mumbai attacks (arrested and placed under house arrest by the Pakistani authorities in September 2009 but released on October 12, 2009 by the Lahore High Court after it quashed all cases against him and set him free). On May 11, 2011, in an effort to put pressure on Pakistan to arrest him, India publicly placed him on its 50 most wanted fugitives hiding in Pakistan (he is believed to be hiding in the Pakistani city of Faisalabad). The organization he started-LeT-has now grown in prominence and is regarded as a major terrorist organization. LeT's headquarters are based in Muridke, near Lahore in Punjab province of Pakistan, the group also operates several training camps in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. LeT was formed in Afghanistan's Kunar province and gained prominence in the early 1990s as a military offshoot of another organization operating out of that region at the time. With the blessings and design of the then Army chief General Mirza Aslam Baig and the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the newly formed organization was assured (and received) supply of arms and veterans left over from the anti-Soviet Afghan War of the 1980s, as well as access to the training camps which were used to train the Afghan Mujahideen in the 1980s. Most of these training camps were located in North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and many were shifted to Azad Kashmir for the sole purpose of training volunteers for the Kashmir Jihad. Pakistan began to fund LeT during the early 1990s and by around 1995 the funding had grown considerably. During this time the Pakistani army and the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) helped establish LeT's military structure with the specific intent to use the militant group against India. According to sources, LeT had a military budget of more than $5 million by 2009. LeT operatives have also been apprehended in India, where they had been obtaining funds from sections of the Muslim Community. LeT is estimated to have 200,000 well trained fighters at its disposal, and claim to have jihadist cells in the major cities of India, US and Pakistan. In fact, A group of men dubbed the Virginia Jihad Network attended LeT training camps and were convicted in 2006 of conspiring to provide material support to the LeT. The leader of the group, Ali al-Timimi, urged the men to attend the LeT camps and to “go abroad to join the mujahideen engaged in violent jihad in Afghanistan.” Two U.S. citizens, Syed Haris Ahmed and Ehsanul Sadequee were arrested in 2006 for attempting to join LeT. Ahmed traveled to Pakistan in July 2005 to attend a terrorist training camp and join LeT. The men also shot videos of U.S. landmarks in the Washington, D.C. area for potential terrorist attacks. They were convicted in Atlanta during the summer of 2009 for conspiring to provide material support to terrorists. Recent news articles have also revealed that outlawed Islamic militants and LeT are thriving in Punjab (a Pakistani province) known to be a safe hub for militants. The province of Punjab has been a major safe hub for Sunni jihadist organizations, which are often backed by the Pakistani intelligence agencies. The jihadist organizations also enjoy the patronage of the Punjab government headed by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. In recent years, a large number of Urdu-speaking militants from Punjab have joined the Pashtu-speaking Taliban in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region, and are known as 'Punjabi Taliban'. In August 2011, a Pakistani government intelligence assessment warned that militants trained in Afghanistan and those released from Afghan prisons have surfaced in Punjab. The report, prepared by the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) of Punjab government, noted that 2,487 militants trained in Afghanistan and 566 ex-inmates of Afghan prisons are now active in the jihadist networks of Punjab. According to the CTD report, at least 170 madrassas – or Islamic seminaries – in Punjab are involved in "suspected activities" – a reference to their role in militant networks, preaching of jihad and spreading sectarian violence against the Shi'a and Ahmadi Muslims in the province. LeT, like the Haqqani Network, is growing into its own and it is well known that operatives have trained and provided “manpower and logistical support” to other groups attacking the state. With the Pakistan ISI's relationship with LeT and other jihadist organizations, what we do find is a marriage of convenience, where ISI's main focus of de-stabilizing India and Afghanistan in a bid to reduce India's foothold in Kashmir, has seen them avoid the capture of important terrorist leaders that they deem an asset to their internal war. What ISI is doing is providing a perfect mixture of support to allow another al-Qaeda-esque organization to come to the forefront and be more successful with their operations.


References:
http://ricochet.com/main-feed/Lashkar-e-Taiba-and-the-Real-Terrorist-Threat
"Who is Pakistan's Hafiz Mohammad Saeed?” Reuters. 2009-07-06. Retrieved 2009-07-07.
"Lashkar-e-Toiba 'Army of the Pure'". South Asia Terrorism Portal. 2001. Retrieved 2009-01-21.
Kurth Cronin, Audrey; Huda Aden, Adam Frost, and Benjamin Jones (2004-02-06) (PDF). Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Congressional Research Service. Retrieved 2009-03-04.
Encyclopedia of Terrorism, pp 212–213 , By Harvey W. Kushner, Edition: illustrated, Published by SAGE, 2003, ISBN 0-7619-2408-6, 9780761924081
Haqqani, Husain (2005). "The Ideologies of South Asian Jihadi Groups". Current Trends in Islamist Ideology (Hudson Institute) 1: 12–26.
Jayshree Bajoria (2010-01-14). "Profile: Lashkar-e-Taiba (Army of the Pure) (a.k.a. Lashkar e-Tayyiba, Lashkar e-Toiba; Lashkar-i-Taiba)". Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved 2010-05-11.
"Profile: Lashkar-e-Toiba". BBC News. 2008-12-04. Retrieved 5 December 2008.
Militant Organizations Reviving in the Jihadist Hub of Punjab By Tufail Ahmad
Faye Bowers, “Al Qaeda’s New Young Guard: A Shift in Tactics,” Christian Science Monitor, February 13, 2004.
Stephen Tankel, “Lashkar-e-Taiba in Perspective,” New America Foundation, February 2010.


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