Lashkar-e-Taiba is one of the largest and most active terrorist organizations, operating mainly from Pakistan. It was founded in 1987 by Hafiz Saeed, Abdullah Azzam and Zafar Iqbal in Afghanistan, with funding from Osama Bin Laden. With its headquarters based in Muridke, near Lahore in Punjab province of Pakistan, the group operates several training camps in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
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- Lashkar-e-Taiba has been accused of attacking military and civilian targets in India, most notably the 2001 Indian Parliament attack and the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Its stated objective is to introduce an Islamic state in South Asia and to liberate Muslims residing in Indian Kashmir.
- The organization is banned as a terrorist organization by India, the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Russia, and Australia.
- 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 Inqilabi 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. The group was proscribed by the United Nations in May 2005. The military regime of Gen. Pervez Musharraf banned the Lashkar-e-Taiba 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.
- The Lashkar-e-Taiba 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 Wahhabi school of thought.
- The LeT also reportedly operates 16 Islamic institutions, 135 secondary schools, an ambulance service, mobile clinics, blood banks and several seminaries across Pakistan.
- 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).
- While the primary area of operations of the Lashkar-e-Taiba is Jammu and Kashmir, the outfit has carried out attacks in other parts of India, including in New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Varanasi, Kolkata and Gujarat.
- LeT has an extensive network that runs across Pakistan and India with branches in Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, Bangladesh and South East Asia. The group has links with many international Islamist terrorist groups like the Ikhwan-ul-Musalmeen of Egypt and other Arab groups.