LeT emerging as Qaida's successor
6 Jul 2005, 0156 hrs IST,
Indrani Bagchi & M Saleem Pandit, TNN
NEW DELHI/SRINAGAR: Tuesday's Ayodhya attack is a deadly reminder of Lashkar-e-Taiba's core ideology — it goes well beyond opposing
India's sovereignty in J&K. According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, the Lashkar's agenda, as outlined in a pamphlet titled, ‘Why Are We Waging Jihad', includes the restoration of Islamic rule over all parts of India.
The terrorist group started out as a wholly owned subsidiary of ISI, Pakistan's intelligence outfit. But over the years it has grown beyond its creator and is now regarded by many terrorism analysts as the successor to Al-Qaida — not as a monolithic organisation, but as a loosely constructed federation.
It propagates a narrow Islamist fundamentalism that is uncomfortably close to Saudi Wahhabism. It wants to unite all Muslim majority regions in countries that surround Pakistan.
Hence its presence in Afghanistan, J&K, Chechnya and other parts of Central Asia.
The outfit has a history of executing precision attacks outside J&K, the most prominent being its suspected role in the December 13, 2001 attack on Parliament and the 2002 strike on the Akshardham temple in Gandhinagar.
Security sources say LeT had planned a similar in Ayodhya in 2002, but it fell apart after the militants entrusted with the task were killed in an encounter in Tughlaqabad.
BSF's senior intelligence officer .K Srinivasan, believes LeT operatives are also active in UP and Gujurat besides being spread across Jammu and Kashmir. Srinivasan, who has
been involved in anti-militancy operations in Jammu and Kashmir since 2000, told TOI that Lashskar's involvement in the Ayodhya attack cannot be ruled out given its track record.
Shahzad Ahmad alias Abu Shamas ofPakistan is the supreme operational commander of the outfit in Jammu and Kashmir. Shahzad resides in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir but has a representative, Dr Zaan, stationed in Bandipora, North Kashmir, acting as operational commander these days, Srinivasan said.
The UN took the ultimate step in May of banning the LeT and all its sister concerns for its links with Al-Qaida, through UN Resolution 1267 under which all states are obliged to freeze its assets, prevent its entry into or transit through their territories.
The fact that this is yet to find ground in LeT's home base, Pakistan, has not escaped notice.
Formed in 1990 in the Kunar province of Afghanistan, the Lashkar-e-Toiba is the military wing of the Markaz-ud-Dawa-wal-Irshad, an Islamic fundamentalist organisation of the Ahle-Hadith sect in Pakistan. Its first presence in J&K was recorded in 1993 when 12 Pakistani and Afghan mercenaries infiltrated across the LoC.
However, after being banned by the US and at different times, Pakistan, the LeT has been reorganised into two supposedly exclusive bodies — one devoted to preaching of Islam under Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and the other to carry on its violent campaign under the leadership of Kashmiri scholar Maulana Abdul Wahid Kashmiri.
Compared to other ultra outfits in J&K, LeT has attracted attention for two reasons: its well planned and executed attacks on security forces and for the dramatic killings of non-Muslim civilians. In fact, it is generally noted that LeT cadres prefer death to arrest, pointing to a high degree of motivation.
Lashkar-e-Tayyaba ('Army of the Pure')
Formed in 1990 in the Kunar province of Afghanistan, the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (also known as Jama’at-ud-Da’awa) is based in Muridke near Lahore in Pakistan and is headed by Hafiz Muhammad Saeed.
Its first presence in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) was recorded in 1993 when 12 Pakistani and Afghan mercenaries infiltrated across the Line of Control (LoC) in tandem with the Islami Inquilabi Mahaz, a terrorist outfit then active in the Poonch district of J&K.
The LeT is outlawed in India under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
It was included in the Terrorist Exclusion List by the US Government on December 5, 2001. The US administration designated the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba as a FTO (Foreign Terrorist Organization) on December 26, 2001. It is also a banned organization in Britain since March 30, 2001.
The group was proscribed by the United Nations in May 2005.
The military regime of Gen. Pervez Musharraf banned the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba in Pakistan on January 12, 2002.
The LeT’s professed ideology goes beyond merely challenging India's sovereignty over the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The Lashkar's ‘agenda’, as outlined in a pamphlet titled Why are we waging jihad includes the restoration of Islamic rule over all parts of India. Further, the outfit seeks to bring about a union of all Muslim majority regions in countries that surround Pakistan. Towards that end, it is active in J&K, Chechnya and other parts of Central Asia.
Hafiz Saeed, a scholar of Islam, has said that the purpose of Jihad is to carry out a sustained struggle for the dominance of Islam in the entire world and to eliminate the evil forces and the ignorant. He considers India, Israel and US to be his prime enemies and has threatened to launch Fidayeen (suicide squad) attacks on American interests too.
The Lashkar-e-Tayyaba does not believe in democracy and nationalism. According to its ideology, it is the duty of every 'Momin' to protect and defend the interests of Muslims all over the world where Muslims are under the rule of non-Muslim in the democratic system. It has, thus chosen the path of Jihad as the suited means to achieve its goal. Cadres are drawn from the Wahabi school of thought.
Jihad, Hafiz Saeed said during the All Pakistan Ulema Convention held on July 17, 2003, at Lahore, is the only way Pakistan can move towards dignity and prosperity.
The LeT has consistently advocated the use of force and vowed that it would plant the 'flag of Islam' in Washington, Tel Aviv and New Delhi.
3. Leadership and Command Structure
The outfit’s headquarters (200 acres) is located at Muridke, 30 kms from Lahore, which was built with contributions and donations from the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia being the biggest benefactor.
The headquarters houses a Madrassa (seminary), a hospital, a market, a large residential area for ‘scholars’ and faculty members, a fish farm and agricultural tracts. The LeT also reportedly operates 16 Islamic institutions, 135 secondary schools, an ambulance service, mobile clinics, blood banks and several seminaries across Pakistan.
LeT publishes its views and opinion through its Website (http://www.jamatuddawa.org/), an Urdu monthly journal, Al-Dawa, which has a circulation of 80,000, and an Urdu weekly, Gazwa. It also publishes Voice of Islam, an English monthly, and Al-Rabat - monthly in Arabic, Mujala-e-Tulba - Urdu monthly for students, Jehad Times - Urdu Weekly.
Hafiz Muhammad Saeed is the Amir (chief) of Lashkar-e-Toiba. While Yahiya Mujahid serves as the spokesman of the outfit, Maulana Abdul Wahid is one of the senior leaders. Abdullah Muntazer is the ‘Spokesman for International Media’ and editor of the outfit’s Website. Saeed’s son Talha reportedly looks after the LeT activity at its base camp in Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistan occupied Kashmir. Saeed’s son-in-law, Khalid Waleed, is reportedly part of the LeT office in Lahore.
According to a November 2005 report of Rediff, the LeT leadership consisted of: Hafiz Mohammed Saeed (Supreme Commander); Zia-Ur-Rehman Lakhvi alias Chachaji (Supreme Commander, Kashmir); A. B. Rahman-Ur-Dakhil (Deputy Supreme Commander); Abdullah Shehzad alias Abu Anas alias Shamas (Chief Operations Commander, Valley); Abdul Hassan alias MY (Central Division Commander); Kari Saif-Ul-Rahman (North Division Commander); Kari Saif-Ul-Islam (Deputy Commander); Masood alias Mahmood (Area Commander, Sopore); Hyder-e-Krar alias CI (Deputy Commander, Bandipora); Usman Bhai alias Saif-Ul-Islam (Deputy Commander, Lolab); Abdul Nawaz (Deputy Commander, Sogam); Abu Rafi (Deputy Divisional Commander, Baramulla); Abdul Nawaz (Deputy Commander, Handwara); Abu Museb alias Saifulla (Deputy Commander, Budgam);
Its cadres are organised at district levels with ‘district commanders’ in charge. Within Pakistan, the outfit has a network of training camps and branch offices, which undertake recruitment and collection of finances.
It comprises cadres mostly from Pakistan and Afghanistan and a sprinkling of militants from Sudan, Bahrain, Central Asia, Turkey and Libya. Funded, armed and trained by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISl, the external intelligence agency of Pakistan), it has presently a little over 750 cadres (this number keeps changing) in Jammu and Kashmir (a vast majority of the foreign mercenaries operating in the Valley).
The policy making apex body consists of Amir (chief), Naib Amir (deputy chief) Finance chief etc. At the field level, it has Chief Commander, Divisional Commander, District Commander, Battalion Commander and down below on army pattern.
4. Area of Operation
While the primary area of operations of the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba is Jammu and Kashmir, the outfit has carried out attacks in other parts of India, including in New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Varanasi, Kolkata, Gujarat, etc. It reportedly has cells in many cities/towns outside Jammu and Kashmir.
The LeT has been able to network with several Islamist extremist organizations across India, especially in J&K, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat. LeT is actively engaged in subversive activities in the States of Maharashtra, West Bengal, Bihar, Hyderabad, Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh at the instance of ISI to expand the frontier of violence outside J&K by subverting fringe elements. Of all the Pakistan-based terrorist groups, the LeT is the only group with support bases across India.
The Lashkar-e-Tayyaba has training camps spread across Pakistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). Its camps, recruitment centres/offices are spread across the length and breadth of Pakistan and PoK in Muzaffarabad, Lahore, Peshawar, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Karachi, Multan, Quetta, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Gilgit (in the Northern Area of PoK), etc. LeT reportedly has 2,200 offices across Pakistan.
The LeT allegedly carried out the terrorist attack at the Indian Institute of Science campus in Bangalore on December 28, 2005, in which one person was killed; Earlier, on October 29, 2005, it engineered the serial explosions in New Delhi killing at least 62 persons; It is also suspected to have carried out the Varanasi attack on March 7, 2006 in which 21 civilians died and 62 others were injured; Three suspected LeT terrorists were shot dead during an abortive attempt to storm the headquarters of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a right-wing Hindu organization, at Nagpur in Maharashtra on June 1, 2006; The LeT, according to Mumbai Police, carried out the 7/11 serial bombings in Mumbai in which at least 200 people were killed.
Arrests made during March-April 2004 near Baghdad brought to light links between the LeT and Islamist groups fighting the United States military in Iraq. In March - and possibly even earlier - United States forces detained Pakistani national Dilshad Ahmad and four others in Baghdad. Ahmad, a long-time Lashkar operative from the Bahawalpur area of the province of Punjab in Pakistan, had played a key role in the Lashkar's trans-Line of Control (LoC) operations, serving between 1997 and 2001 as the organisation's commander for the forward camps from where infiltrating groups of terrorists are launched into Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistani military support. Ahmad is believed to have made at least six secret visits to Lashkar groups operating in J&K during this period.
5. Training and Operational Strategies
The outfit provides training to both militant cadres and the Ulema (religious scholars). Its militant cadres are given two months training in the handling of AK series rifles, LMGs, pistols, rocket launchers and hand grenades. It also provides a 21-day training programme called Daura-e-Aam and a three months specialized training programme called Daura-e-Khas.
The Ulema are provided with a 42-days course. At the time of induction, the young recruits are made to go through a fresher course called Bait-ur-Rizwan.
Lashkar-e-Tayyaba is credited for having initiated the strategy of Fidayeen (suicide squad) attacks in J&K. It has formed two sub-groups called 'Jaan-e-Fidai' and 'Ibn-e-Tayamiah'. While the first group consists of highly motivated terrorists, the second comprises terrorists suffering from incurable diseases.
Compared to other terrorist outfits in J&K, the LeT has commanded significant attention primarily due to two reasons. First, for its well planned and executed attacks on security force (SF) targets and secondly, for the massacres of non-Muslim civilians. After the Kargil war of May-July 1999, (when Pakistani troops and mercenaries, including those of the Lashkar, were forced to withdraw from peaks on the Indian side of the Line of Control - LoC), the outfit launched its Fidayeen strategy whereby small groups (2-5 members) of Lashkar cadres would storm a security force camp or base. In another frequently used strategy, groups of Lashkar cadres, dressed in SF fatigues, would arrive at remote hill villages, round up Hindu or Sikh civilians, and massacre them. These two strategies have been designed to achieve maximum publicity and extract public allegiance, mainly out of fear. On December 8, 2001, two LeT suicide squad cadres managed to penetrate inside a SF convoy and opened fire killing one soldier. They were able to generate adequate confusion to escape from the convoy after the attack but were later killed in an encounter with another SF unit.
It is closely linked to the Inter-Services Intelligence, the Taliban and al Qaeda.
India’s National Security Adviser M. K. Narayanan said on August 11, 2006, that the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Tayyaba is part of the "al Qaeda compact" and is "as big as and omnipotent" as the international terror network. "The Lashkar today has emerged as a very major force. It has connectivity with west Asia, Europe....Actually there was an LeT module broken in Virginia and some people were picked up. It is as big as and omnipotent as al Qaeda in every sense of the term," he told a private news channel. Asked how significant the al Qaeda connection was in India, Narayanan said LeT was the "most visible manifestation" of the al Qaeda in India.
LeT has an extensive network that run across Pakistan and India with branches in Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, Bangladesh and South East Asia.
The outfit collects donations from the Pakistani community in the Persian Gulf and United Kingdom, Islamic Non-Governmental Organisations, and Pakistani and Kashmiri businessmen. It receives considerable financial, material and other forms of assistance from the Pakistan government, routed primarily through the ISI. The ISI is the main source of LeT's funding. Saudi Arabia also provides funds.
The LeT maintains ties to various religious/military groups around the world, ranging from the Philippines to the Middle East and Chechnya primarily through the al Qaeda fraternal network.
The LeT has also been part of the Bosnian campaign against the Serbs.
It has allegedly set up sleeper cells in the U.S. and Australia, trained terrorists from other countries and has entered new theatres of Jihad like Iraq.
The group has links with many international Islamist terrorist groups like the Ikhwan-ul-Musalmeen of Egypt and other Arab groups.
LeT has a unit in Germany and also receives help from the Al Muhajiraun, supporter of Sharia Group, (Abu Hamza Masari- of Mosque Finsbury Park, North London) and its annual convention is regularly attended by fraternal bodies in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, Bahrain, Oman, Kosovo, Bangladesh, Myanmar, USA, Palestine, Bosnia, Philippines, Jordan, Chechnya, etc.
It also has links with the International Sikh Youth Federation (Lakhbir Singh Rode).
The outfit collects donations from the Pakistani community in the Persian Gulf and United Kingdom, Islamic Non-Governmental Organisations, and Pakistani and Kashmiri businessmen. It receives considerable financial, material and other forms of assistance from the Pakistan government, routed primarily through the ISI. The ISI is the main source of LeT's funding. Funds also come from some sources in Saudi Arabia.
Finances are also generated through Hawala transaction and through infiltrating groups and other conduits.
According to Mohammad Omar Rana, the expenditure on its militia alone is around 35 crores of rupees per annum.8. Weaponry AK series rifles, LMG/HMG's, Hand Grenades, Rockets, Pistols, Mortars, Anti-tank mines, Anti personnel mines, Anti Aircraft Gun, Remote Control Device, explosive devices and sophisticated communication system.