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Qaida in partnership with Lashkar in India

Times of India

NEW DELHI: Ter­ror does leave a call­ing card. As the enor­mi­ty of the attack on Mum­bai sank in, it seemed like the arrival of al-Qai­da in India, a ver­sion of 9/11 designed to attract a glob­al audi­ence giv­en the scale of vio­lence and the planned tar­get­ing of west­ern­ers.

With the cap­ture of a ter­ror­ist, the actu­al authors were revealed. It was­n’t the al-Qai­da. But the jiha­di cre­den­tials were not much less impres­sive with Lashkar-e-Tai­ba named as the sus­pect. Giv­en the oper­a­tion’s obvi­ous plan­ning, few doubt­ed it was the dead­ly firm of LeT-ISI in action yet again.

Yet the dif­fer­ence between LeT and al-Qai­da is not so sig­nif­i­cant as might have once been the case. In recent years, Lashkar has emerged as not only the sin­gle largest pan-Indi­an ter­ror threat, but also a part­ner with al-Qai­da in jiha­di bat­tle­grounds like Iraq, Chech­nya and Afghanistan. It has shared train­ing camps and cadre and used al-Qai­da-Tal­iban facil­i­ties for a “jihad” against India.

It has been pro­scribed by US and UK who have recog­nised LeT to be a glob­al ter­ror­ist organ­i­sa­tion. In UK, it has been allied to the Kash­miri under­ground, for long recog­nised as one of the eas­i­est way to get into the jiha­di cir­cuit which leads to Pak­istan. It pos­es as a char­i­ty and open­ly seeks dona­tions in Pak­istani cities for the “Kash­mir cause” and its leader, Prof Hafiz Saeed, is allowed free move­ment apart from occa­sion­al cos­met­ic spells of house arrest.

Before the Markaz-da’wa wal-irshad, the Lashkar’s reli­gio-polit­i­cal wing, was banned, its web­site reg­u­lar­ly car­ried the view of its founder. Saeed’s view of LeT’s mis­sion was quite unam­bigu­ous. He argued that Kash­mir was the “gate­way” to India, much of which com­prised “lost Mus­lim lands”. He saw jihad in Kash­mir as a reli­gious duty and ful­ly iden­ti­fied him­self with the 9/11 may­hem that Osama bin Laden wreaked.

Aligned with the Ahl-e-Hadees sect, Lashkar was found­ed in 1987 by Saeed, who inci­den­tal­ly was also trained as an engi­neer like Osama and many oth­er promi­nent jihadis, and who drew his inspi­ra­tion from the Egypt-based Mus­lim Broth­er­hood — an organ­i­sa­tion that saw Pales­tine as an Islam­ic cause way back in the 1930’s. In col­lab­o­ra­tion with ISI, Lashkar built up an impres­sive Kash­mir port­fo­lio with recruits chiefly drawn from Pak­istani Pun­jabis, Pash­toons, Bangladeshis, Arabs and south-east Asians.

But its vision has nev­er been Kash­mir-cen­tric as it bids to re-estab­lish Mus­lim rule from Moroc­co to Indone­sia and also eyes north Aus­tralia as part of its like­ly domain.


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