ALTERNATE NAME: Army of the Righteous
LEADER: Hafeez Mohammed Saeed
YEAR ESTABLISHED OR BECAME ACTIVE: 1989
USUAL AREA OF OPERATION: Kashmir (India)
Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LT) is considered by most terrorism analysts to be the largest militant organization operating in the Jammu & Kashmir (state of India) region. LT claims that it was formed in 1989, in Pakistan, as a military faction of Markaz-ud-Dawa-wal-Irshad (MDI), an Islamic extremist organization. LT is also known as Army of the Righteous, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), al Monsooreen, al-Mansoorian, Army of the Pure, as well as Army of the Pure and Righteous.
After the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, LT was categorized as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. Department of State for its alleged involvement with al-Qaeda (the group that claimed responsibility for the attacks). The Pakistan government subsequently froze all LT assets and banned the group.
In 1989, Zafar Iqbal, Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, and Abdullah Azam, leaders of Markaz-ud-Dawa-wal-Irshad (MDI), an Islamic fundamentalist organization headquartered in the town of Muridke outside Lahore, Pakistan, created an army wing known as Lashkar-e-Tayyiba. The main objective was to support the Afghan mujahideens (a term represented as "Muslim warriors fighting for a religious cause" against those who do not believe in Islamic fundamentalism) fighting against the Soviet Union. At that time the Soviets were protecting the communist regime in Afghanistan. After the Afghan war ended, the LT shifted its focus on the jihad (holy war) against India for the liberation of Kashmir. The LT is reportedly one of the three most prominent and highly skilled terrorist organizations operating in Kashmir.
LT has claimed responsibility for a large number of terrorist activities conducted against the Indian security forces, as well as civilians in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), since 1993. The Indian authorities have also blamed LT for several terrorist attacks conducted in other parts of India. As alleged by the Indian government, Lashkar e-Tayyiba has been receiving financial and operational support from the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) since 1996. News reports within the media have also suggested that the involvement of ISI increased after the U.S. government declared another Pakistan-based militant group, Harakat ul-Ansar (HUA), a terrorist organization in 1997.
Reportedly, LT and its parent organization MDI were also supported by the ISI and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) during the Afghan war. However, Indian authorities argue that after the war was over, the CIA withdrew its support but the ISI continued to help LT—only now its focus was on J&K and other parts of India.
HAFIZ MOHAMMED SAEED
In 1987, three scholarly individuals, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, Zafar Iqbal, and Abdullah Azzam, collaborated to form the Markaz Dawat-ul Irshad (MDI, Center for Religious Learning and Social Welfare). Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, a faction of MDI, represents the armed forces of this organization. The organization was reportedly founded with the seed money provided by the al-Qaeda group, due to the alleged links between its leader, Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, and Osama bin Laden.
After graduating from the Government College at Sargodha, Pakistan, Saeed took off to Saudi Arabia and earned his Masters in Islamic Studies and in Arabic Lexicon, from King Saud University, Riyadh. Subsequently, he served as a Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Engineering and Technology in Lahore, Pakistan, for many years.
After forming the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Saeed is thought to be the mastermind behind several acts of terrorism. Several of Saeed's family members allegedly hold high-ranking positions at LT.
In 2001, in a revelation to the Pakistani media, Saeed mentioned that the LT would undergo changes and will emerge stronger than ever. This was after it was designated a terrorist organization by the United States. Towards the end of 2001, he was arrested by the Pakistani police, but was freed in November 2002, in absence of charges against him.
Saeed has frequently expressed vehement disregard for India and the United States (especially in the aftermath of September 11). Analysts argue that Saeed believes that prospective peace talks between India and Pakistan are fraudulent, and that India and the United States are trying to coerce President Musharraf (of Pakistan) to restrict the activities of LT.
Apart from the ISI, the LT is thought to have obtained significant funding from Osama bin Laden (of al-Qaeda) as well as Islamic charities, and Pakistani and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir's (PoK) businesspeople. Reports suggest that Osama bin Laden provided significant funding for the vast campus of MDI in Muridke, Pakistan. There have also been reports in the Indian media that the LT has, in the past, received financial and other support from the government of Pakistan.
Lashkar e-Tayyiba, over the years, has allegedly conducted numerous terrorist operations in J&K. Thousands of civilians (belonging to non-Islamic religions such as Hinduism and Sikhism) and Indian security force personnel have been killed as a result of these operations. After 1997, there was a significant rise in terror activities in the J&K region, particularly in the districts of Poonch and Doda that have allegedly been repeated targets of the group. Indian officials claimed that most of the terror activities during this period were carried out by the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba. Prominent among them is the attack at Srinagar airport, killing five Indians; the attack on a police station in Srinagar that took the lives of at least eight officers and caused injuries to many more; attacks on Hindu temples in the state; as well as several attacks on the security forces stationed along the Indian border.
Indian authorities suspect members of LT to be the masterminds behind various other terrorist acts in other states of India. One of the most prominent incidents includes the attack in December 2001 on the Indian Parliament in New Delhi. The government of India claims that this attack was organized by the LT and another Pakistan-based terrorist organization—Jaish e-Mohammed (JEM). The LT has also been held responsible for attacks on a temple in Gujarat, India, (in 2002), and the site of the temple of Ram in Ayodhya, India.
The attack on India's parliament is just one example of cooperation between the LT and other terrorist organizations. Indian intelligence agencies and monitor groups blame the Chattisinghpora massacre of 2000 on a combined operation between the LT and the Kashmir-based faction of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen. That attack left 35 people dead in the Anantang district of J&K.
In 1998, the LT reportedly joined Osama bin Laden's International Islamic Front for Jihad against Crusaders and Jews. Indian intelligence officials allege that in 2001, the outfit relocated to Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). This move, as reported by the officials, was made after the Pakistani government clamped down the operations of the group due to mounting international pressure, as a result of the September 11 attacks in the United States. At this time, Maulana Abdul Wahid Kashmiri was appointed leader of the operations in Kashmir, and Zaki ur-Rehman took over as Supreme Commander (replacing Hafeez Mohammed Saeed).
- LT members allegedly massacre 35 Sikhs at Chattisinghpora, Anantnag, J&K, on the eve of then-U.S. President Bill Clinton's official visit to India.
- LT reportedly behind the attack on the Indian army barracks in the Red Fort in New Delhi.
- An attack on India's Parliament is blamed on the LT by India.
- The Pakistani police force arrest Saeed. However, he is released after a few months as the Lahore High Court cites that the arrest was unlawful.
- The Indian government names LT as the group behind the attack on Akshardham, a Hindu temple in Gandhinagar, India. The attack killed around 30 people and injured many more.
- Lashkar-e-Tayyiba works together with militant groups fighting against United States led coalition forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.
- The United Nations bans the group, freezing its assets.
- Islamic Inquilabi Mahaz, Islamic revolutionary group also known as or linked to Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (Lashkar-e-Taiba) claims responsibility for a bombing in New Delhi that kills fifty-nine people.
PHILOSOPHY AND TACTICS
Lashkar-e-Tayyiba aims at establishing Islamic rule in India and other Asian countries. Its immediate objective is to liberate Jammu & Kashmir, and eventually other Muslim dominated regions of India such as Junagadh (in western India), and the city of Hyderabad (eastern India). The group has declared that jihad is the obligatory right of every religious Muslim. The group, like many other militant outfits, is reported to be inspired by the ideology of Osama bin Laden, and al-Qaeda. It allegedly denounces all non-Islamic religions and also condemns those Islamic nations that oppose its philosophy.
The MDI (parent organization) and LT belong to the Ahle Hadith school of Islam of the Wahabi orientation (a sect of Islam) and are considered by most to be extremely conservative and religious minded. Several terrorism experts consider them to be religious fanatics. The LT reportedly has the largest, most efficient, and highly independent jihad network among all other militant Islamic organizations based in Pakistan.
Reports indicate that the organization was initially not a part of the United Jihad Council (a council of numerous militant organizations allegedly organized by the ISI of Pakistan), and had its own specific methods of operation. However, it is speculated by terrorism experts that the tactics employed by the group's fedayeen fighters (an Arabic word meaning "one who is ready to sacrifice his life for the cause,"—more commonly known as suicide fighters) against the Indian military earned them great respect among other Islamic extremist groups, and it was eventually made part of the Jihad Council.
The Indian government is of the opinion that Lashkar-e-Tayyiba has in the past adopted violent tactics to achieve its objectives. This includes killing people who follow religions other than Islam. LT has reportedly killed several infants, children, women, and other civilians. The main strategy that is adopted for such purposes is suicide bombing. Suicide units, or fedayeen, have been involved in many of its terrorist activities. Additionally, its members have also used traditional means of combat with the use of guns, grenades, and explosives. Analysts state that the members of LT believe that they would attain martyrdom when they die in combat in the name of religion.
In 2002, it was reported in the Indian news media that several LT members, disguised as Hindu holy men, duped innocent civilians and murdered 27 people, including 13 women and one child. Mass murders in the disputed Kashmir valley region are not uncommon, and are usually attributed to Lashkar-e-Tayyiba.
The majority of the outfit's members have a Punjabi background (one of the common sects in both India and Pakistan) and speak the local language. This makes it difficult for the Indian authorities to trace them. Besides, Indian terrorism experts state that common language and cultural traits help members of LT establish rapport among the young minds of Kashmir.
Most of LT's recruits are non-Kashmiri Pakistanis trained in madrassas (Islamic schools). However, the LT reportedly has thousands of followers in the disputed Kashmir valley region in India and the Pakistan-occupied region of Azad Kashmir. Analysts argue that although most of the jihad organizations recruit local men and women with additional help from nationals of other Islamic countries, LT does the complete opposite. Also, Indian intelligence agencies and monitor groups state that LT and its founder organization MDI are extremely secretive and do not reveal much about their internal workings.
Many reports have suggested that at its command centers based in Pakistan and PoK, the group members teach young new recruits their own interpretation of militant Islam. The group has reportedly set up numerous training camps throughout Pakistan and also along the "Line of Control" (an unmarked border between J&K and PoK). It is thought by intelligence agencies that many of these training camps are comparable with the most advanced military training centers around the world.
The group, reportedly, also runs various religious schools, prints religious publications, and runs social welfare organizations to attract new members. Analysts claim that members and leaders of the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba also use the Internet to propagate their ideology, and appeal for donations and funding.
It has often been reported that LT has developed close associations with various Islamic terrorist outfits operating in India such as Student's Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). As reported in the January 2001 edition of The Hindu Business Line, a national news publication in India, the leader of LT, Hafeez Mohammed Saeed, in an interview to the Lahore Press Club in 1996 stated that, "The jehad in Kashmir would soon spread to entire India. Our Mujahideen would create three Pakistans in India."
Although, in the early 2000s, the group reportedly underwent structural and leadership changes, including the induction of Maulana Abdul Wahid Kashmiri as the head of the Kashmir faction (in place of Hafeez Mohammed Saeed), monitor groups and analysts allege that Saeed is still the supreme leader of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba. Experts and Indian intelligence agency officials also argue that such changes are merely cosmetic moves to avoid ramifications of the ban placed on the group.
Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LT) a.k.a. Army of the Righteous
LT is the armed wing of the Pakistan-based religious organization, Markaz-ud-Dawa-wal-Irshad (MDI), an anti-US Sunni missionary organization formed in 1989. LT is led by Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and is one of the three largest and best trained groups fighting in Kashmir against India. It is not connected to any political party. The Pakistani Government banned the group and froze its assets in January 2002. Elements of LT and Jaish-e-Mohammed combined with other groups to mount attacks as "The Save Kashmir Movement."
LT has conducted a number of operations against Indian troops and civilian targets in Jammu and Kashmir since 1993. LT claimed responsibility for numerous attacks in 2001, including an attack in January on Srinagar airport that killed five Indians; an attack on a police station in Srinagar that killed at least eight officers and wounded several others; and an attack in April against Indian border security forces that left at least four dead. The Indian Government publicly implicated LT, along with JEM, for the attack on December 13, 2001, on the Indian Parliament building, although concrete evidence is lacking. LT is also suspected of involvement in the attack on May 14, 2002, on an Indian Army base in Kaluchak that left 36 dead. Senior al-Qa'ida lieutenant Abu Zubaydah was captured at an LT safe house in Faisalabad in March 2002, suggesting some members are facilitating the movement of al-Qa'ida members in Pakistan.
Has several thousand members in Azad Kashmir, Pakistan, in the southern Jammu and Kashmir and Doda regions, and in the Kashmir valley. Almost all LT members are Pakistanis from madrassas across Pakistan or Afghan veterans of the Afghan wars.
LOCATION/AREA OF OPERATION
Based in Muridke (near Lahore) and Muzaffarabad.
Collects donations from the Pakistani community in the Persian Gulf and United Kingdom, Islamic NGOs, and Pakistani and other Kashmiri business people. LT also maintains a Web site (under the name Jamaat ud-Daawa), through which it solicits funds and provides information on the group's activities. The amount of LT funding is unknown. LT maintains ties to religious/militant groups around the world, ranging from the Philippines to the Middle East and Chechnya through the fraternal network of its parent organization Jamaat ud-Dawa (formerly Markaz Dawa ul-Irshad). In anticipation of asset seizures by the Pakistani Government, the LT withdrew funds from bank accounts and invested in legal businesses, such as commodity trading, real estate, and production of consumer goods.
Source: U.S. Department of State. Country Reports on Terrorism. Washington, D.C., 2004.
As of 2005, Western and Indian intelligence/security sources state that Lashkar-e-Tayyiba members have been actively participating in terrorist activities in Chechnya, the Middle East, and Bosnia, and allegedly have strong links with al-Qaeda. In 2005, the United Nations banned Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, categorically stating it to be a terrorist organization. According to published U.S. State Department reports, as of 2005, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba has an estimated strength of several hundred trained members.
Since 2001, internal clashes and external pressures have turned the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba against the United States and Israel, besides its traditional target: India. Addressing the Pakistan Ulema Convention at Lahore in 2004, Hafeez Mohammed Saeed stated, "We do not fear America. We can defeat it through Jihad very easily, but General Musharraf is holding us up. He has become the biggest enemy of jihad, and if we can get him out of the picture, we can take care of the infidels." This was after Pakistani President Musharraf started clamping down on the operations of the LT as a result of sustained international pressure. Leaders of the group have reportedly stated that "there is no all-Islamic government in any country," and that the former "Taliban regime in Afghanistan was almost an Islamic government."
After the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, President Bush ordered a freeze on the assets of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba. President Bush stated that "Lashkar-e-Tayyiba is an extremist group based in Kashmir. LeT is a stateless sponsor of terrorism, and it hopes to destroy relations between Pakistan and India. To achieve its purpose, LT has committed acts of terrorism inside both India and Pakistan. LeT is a terrorist organization that presents a global threat. And I look forward to working with the governments of both India and Pakistan in a common effort to shut it down and to bring the killers to justice." Subsequently, President Musharraf froze the assets of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and banned the organization. This move of President Musharraf was well received in the international community and among the leaders of the world, including that of the United States and India.
According to the Indian government, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba has worked around many of the restrictions that have been imposed on its operations by Pakistan and the United Nations. After September 11, news sources have reported that the group has collected close to $1.75 million through anonymous donations and gifts by charitable organizations. The training camps run by the outfit in undisclosed places in Pakistan and northern India, particularly in Kashmir, are considered by military experts to be state of the art and well equipped. According to several media reports, LT leader Saeed openly declared in 2004 that the group had recruited more than 7,000 youths to fight in the Kashmir Jihad. It was also reported that he boasted that more than 800 of these had already attained martyrdom. The Indian government and media has reported that more than 50,000 people, including innocent civilians, have been murdered in Kashmir, and many more continue to die in this constant tug of war between India and terrorist organizations. Additionally, it has been alleged by Indian intelligence that most of these militant outfits are backed by Pakistani authorities.
LT is believed to have strong ties with other terrorist organizations, including al-Qaeda. Intelligence reports indicate that the group has also expanded its range of activities in Chechnya, the Philippines, and the Middle East, and may have set up sleeper cells in the United States and Australia. In 2004, 11 individuals suspected to be working for LT were detained in Virginia, United States, and were later charged with conspiracy and weapons charges. Authorities speculated that some of them had been to Pakistan to train at LT camps. Earlier that year, the Australian authorities arrested a terrorist who was alleged to be the leader of LT operations in Australia.
Lashkar-e-Tayyiba is considered by counter-terrorism analysts and intelligence experts to be powerful and influential militant organization. Authorities also fear that efforts by India and Pakistan and other countries to establish peace in this region might encourage LT to take drastic measures to thwart the peace proceedings. Experts warn that the threat of LT to strike at other targets besides the Indian subcontinent is imminent as LT allegedly possesses the potential to execute its threats.
BBC News. "Profile: Lashkar-e-Toiba." 〈http://news.-bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/3181925.stm〉 (accessed October 20, 2005).
MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base. "Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET)." 〈http://www.tkb.org/Group.jsp?groupID=66〉 (accessed October 20, 2005).
South Asian Terrorism Portal. "Lashkar-e-Toiba." 〈http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/india/states/jandk/terrorist_outfits/lashkar_e_toiba.htm〉 (accessed October 20, 2005).
Overseas Security Advisory Council. "Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LT) (Army of the Righteous)." 〈http://www.ds-osa-c.org/Groups/group.cfm?contentID=1286〉 (accessed October 20, 2005).