2 dec. 2008

Mumbai: Who did it? (2)

To continue our exploration of the most likely perpetrators of the attacks on Mumbai, India, Pointer adds some more specifics about the group (all common knowledge from open sources):

Role in India-Pakistan relations
Pakistan denies giving orders to Lashkar-e-Taiba's activities. However, the Indian government and many non-governmental think-tanks allege that the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence is involved with the group. The situation with LeT causes considerable strain in Indo-Pakistani relations, which are already mired in suspicion and mutual distrust.

Area of operation
While the primary area of operations of the Lashkar-e-Taiba’s militant activities is the Kashmir valley, the outfit is also active in the Jammu region besides having undertaken isolated attacks in other parts of India. The Lashkar is reported to have conducted several of its major operations in tandem with the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen. The Kashmiri cadre of the HM provide vital knowledge of the ground conditions in the target zone, while the highly trained and motivated LeT insurgents undertake the attack.
The LeT was also reported to have been directed by the ISI to widen its network in the Jammu region where a considerable section of the populace comprised Punjabis. The LeT that has a large number of activists who hail from Pakistani Punjab can thus effectively penetrate into Jammu society.
News reports, citing security forces, said that the latter suspect that in the December 13, 2001 attack on India’s Parliament in New Delhi, a joint group from the LeT and the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) were involved. The LeT was also held responsible by the government for the December 23, 2000 attack in Red Fort, New Delhi. LeT confirmed its participation in the Red Fort attack and its involvement in the Parliament attack.
LeT cadres have also been arrested from different cities of India. On May 27, a LeT militant was arrested from Hajipur in Gujarat. On August 15, 2001, a LeT militant was arrested from Bhatinda in Punjab. The LeT has also built contacts with other Islamist militant outfits active in India. An arrested activist of the proscribed Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), is reported to have confessed during interrogation on August 21, 2001, that two LeT militant had held discussions with SIMI’s Malegaon unit in Mumbai on August 6, 2001 to carry out subversive activities in the State of Maharashtra.

External linkages
The Lashkar-e-Taiba was created to participate in the Mujahideen conflict against the Najibullah regime in Afghanistan. In the process, the outfit developed deep linkages with Afghanistan and has several Afghan nationals in its cadre. The outfit had also cultivated links with the former Taliban regime in Afghanistan and also with Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network. Even while refraining from openly displaying these links, the LeT office in Muridke was reportedly used as a transit camp for third country recruits heading for Afghanistan. A news report in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S. has indicated that the outfit provides terrorists for the outer circle of Bin Laden’s personal security.
The outfit collects donations from the Pakistani community in the Persian Gulf and United Kingdom, Islamic Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), and Pakistani and Kashmiri businessmen. 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 MDI fraternal network.
Reports also indicate that the LeT receives considerable financial, material and other forms of assistance from the Pakistan government, routed primarily through the ISI. Pakistan’s security agencies are reported to be providing training to the outfit. A December 13, 2001 news report cited a LeT spokesperson as saying that the outfit wanted to avoid a clash with the Pakistani Government. He claimed, even though the government has been an ardent supporter of all Muslim freedom movements, particularly that of Kashmir, in the present conditions a clash was possible because of the sudden wedge that appeared between the interests of the government and those of terrorist outfits active in J&K.
According to the declaration of LeT operatives, the Pakistan Army, particularly in the borders with India (the International Border and the Line of Control - LoC) aids members of the outfit in their infiltration, extraction and clashes with Indian security forces near the borders by providing covering fire.
The Markaz campus at Muridke in Lahore, its headquarters, was used as a hide-out for Ramzi Yousef and Mir Aimal Kansi, who was convicted and sentenced to death for killing two Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officers outside the CIA’s headquarters in Washington in January 1993.

Role in Afghanistan
Guantanamo detainee Khalid Bin Abdullah Mishal Thamer Al Hameydani's Combatant Status Review Tribunal said that he had received training at Lashkar e-Taiba.
The Combatant Status Review Tribunals of Taj Mohammed and Rafiq Bin Bashir Bin Jalud Al Hami, and the Administrative Review Board hearing of Abdullah Mujahid and Zia Ul Shah allege that they too were members or former members of Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Also, the Lashkar is claimed to have operated a military camp in post-Sept 11 Afghanistan, and extending support to the ousted Taliban regime.

Recent focus on Lashkar-e-Taiba
1. In March 2000, Lashkar-e-Taiba militants are claimed to have been involved in the Chittisinghpura massacre, where 35 Sikhs in the town of Chittisinghpura in Kashmir were killed. An LeT militant who was arrested in December of the year admitted to the involvement of the group and had no regret in perpetrating the anti-Sikh massacre.
2. 2005 London bombings: Links to Lashkar-e-Taiba and Al-Qaeda involved.
3. 2005 Delhi bombings: During Diwali, Lashkar-e-Taiba bombed crowded festive Delhi markets killing 60 civilians and maiming 527.
4. 2006 Varanasi bombings: Lashkar-e-Taiba was involved in serial blasts in Hindu city in the state of Utter Pradesh. Thirty seven people died and 89 were seriously injured.
5. 2006 Mumbai train bombings: The investigation launched by Indian forces and US officials have pointed to the involvement of Lashkar-e-Taiba in Mumbai serial blasts on 11 July 2006. The Mumbai serial blasts on 11th July claimed 211 lives and maimed about 407 people and seriously injured another 768.
6. 2006 blasts at Malegaon: The investigation, presently in its early stages, point to the Lashkar-e-Taiba as suspects. They have had connections with Malegaon's radical Islamist organisations. Alternate theories involving the Bajrang Dal as the perpetrators are also being considered, however, no evidence points to the involvement of Bajrang Dal and the modus operandi of the attacks are more consistent with Islamist terror outfits such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba.
7. On September 12, 2006 the propaganda arm of the Lashkar-e-Taiba issued a fatwa against the Christian Pope Benedict XVI demanding that Muslims assassinate him for his controversial statements about Muhammad.
8. On September 16, 2006, a top Lashkar-e-Taiba militant, Abu Saad, was killed by the troops of 9-Rashtriya Rifles in Nandi Marg forest in Kulgam. Saad belongs to Lahore in Pakistan and also oversaw LeT operations for the past three years in Gul Gulabhgash as the outfit's area commander. Apart from a large quantity of arms and ammunition, high denomination Indian and Pakistani currencies were also recovered from the slain militant.
9. On July 31, 2008, Webnewswire, a leading Indian newswire, released 'Undisputed proof that Lashker-e-Taiba is (or was) based in Pakistan.' It lists information available in public sources such as archive.org to prove that the organization was based in Pakistan.
10. In November 2008, Lashkar-e-Taiba has been suspected but has denied being a part of the Mumbai attacks. According to reports, the lone terrorist captured by Indian authorities now admits the attacks were planned and executed by the terrorist organization. US intelligence sources have confirmed that there is mounting evidence that Lashkar-e-Taiba is behind the attacks.