Lashkar-e-Toiba: Global Outreach ::South Asia Intelligence Review (SAIR), Vol. No. 9.47
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Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 9, No. 47, May 30, 2011

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Lashkar-e-Toiba: Global Outreach
Shrideep Biswas
Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management

Lashkar-e-Toiba ranks right up there in the al-Qaida and related groups as terrorist organizations...
Janet Napolitano, US Secretary of Homeland Security, May 27, 2011

The statement of the US Secretary of Homeland Security, acknowledging the scale of the threat from Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), comes in the wake of cumulative and overwhelming evidence that this terrorist formation has long outgrown its initial focus on Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) to emerge as a global terrorist threat, matching al Qaida in aspiration, resources and reach.

Napolitano’s comment was, however, far from the first acknowledgement of the LeT threat by the United States (US). Recently, on April 13, 2011, Admiral Robert Willard, Chief of the US military's Pacific Command Forces, told the Senate Armed Services Committee: “Unquestionably they [LeT] have spread their influence internationally and are no longer solely focused in South Asia and on India.” He added, further, that the US had evidence of LeT’s presence in Europe and the broader Asia-Pacific region. Willard’s words were almost echoed by former British foreign secretary David Miliband on April 29, 2011, when he cautioned, “If it's true that the LeT is developing global ambitions for its terrorism and its own capacity to do so, as well as regional ones (sic), we have to be even more insistent on the need to roll up that infrastructure.”

On March 12, 2010, US lawmakers had urged President Barack Obama to push Pakistan to crack down harder on the LeT. The House of Representatives Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia held a hearing to discuss LeT terrorism, during which Chairman Gary Ackerman accused the Pakistani military of supporting the banned outfit.  

These statements reflect only the tip of the iceberg of Washington’s growing uneasiness with LeT’s ‘holy warriors’, long pampered and mollycoddled by Pakistani authorities as comrades-in-arms in the overt and covert war against their perceived ‘eternal enemy’, India. In the past, with the LeT and cognate outfits such as Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI), Harkat-ul-Mujahiddeen (HuM), etc., engaged in waging jihad in Kashmir alone, or in bleeding India through ‘a thousand cuts’, western authorities, quite reasonably from their own perspectives, observed these developments with perfect equanimity and a great lack of concern. Of late, however, with an increasing presence and incidence of LeT’s networks and activities in the western world, there is a growing alarm in the US and Europe regarding the escalating terrorist threat in their own backyard. The stoicism regarding terrorism in theatres thousands of miles away no longer seems as prudent or sustainable with the menace manifesting in their own backyards.

Indian authorities have long warned the world of the augmenting international threat of state-backed terrorist formations in Pakistan, prominently including the LeT. India’s then National Security Adviser M. K. Narayanan, for instance, warned, on August 11, 2006, “The Lashkar (LeT) today has emerged as a very major force. It has connectivity with west Asia, Europe... Actually there was a LeT module broken (sic) in Virginia and some people were picked up. It is as big as and omnipotent as al Qaeda in every sense of the term.” Again, on April 21, 2010, he reiterated, “The LeT has networks in 21 countries, including Australia, North America, Europe and Asia."

The South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) database has long documented LeT’s global footprint to note:

  • LeT has an extensive network that run across Pakistan and India with established branches in Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, Bangladesh and South East Asia.

  • LeT has a network of sleeper cells in the US and Australia, has trained terrorists from other countries, and has entered new theatres of 'jihad', such as Iraq.

  • LeT maintains ties with various religious/military groups around the world, ranging from the Philippines to the Middle East and Chechnya, primarily through the al Qaeda fraternal network.

  • LeT is part of the 'al Qaeda compact' and is a member of the "International Islamic Front for the struggle against the Jews and the Crusaders" established by Osama bin Laden on February 23, 1998.

  • LeT was part of the Bosnian campaign against the Serbs.

  • LeT has links with several international Islamist terrorist groups, including the Ikhwan-ul-Musalmeen of Egypt and other Arab groups.

  • LeT has a unit in Germany and also receives help from the Al Muhajiraun, a supporter of the Sharia Group, (Abu Hamza Masari of the Finsbury Park Mosque, North London). 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, among others.

  • LeT has links with the International Sikh Youth Federation (under the leadership of Lakhbir Singh Rode) a Sikh terrorist group, backed by Pakistan, responsible for numberless acts of terrorism in Indian Punjab, which also has an international network of support.

  • Headquartered in Muridke, LeT has run terrorist camps at Muzaffarabad and Gilgit (in Pakistan occupied Kashmir), Lahore, Peshawar, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Karachi, Multan, Quetta, Gujranwala and Sialkot. The group runs at least 16 Islamic centers, 135 "secondary schools," 2,200 offices and a vast network of madrassas (religious seminaries), orphanages, medical centers and charities across Pakistan.

  • The U.S. State Department's 2008 Report on International Religious Freedom noted that "schools run by Jamat-ud-Dawa [LeT's parent organisation] continued… teaching and recruitment for Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, a designated foreign terrorist organization."

  • Until its designation as a terrorist group by the UN Security Council in December 2008, LeT openly published a number of journals, papers and websites.

  • Crucially, LeT remains a 'loyal' group, and unlike many others created by the ISI who have since turned against Islamabad or whose loyalties are now suspect, continues to coordinate its activities with Pakistani state agencies.

  • Finances for LeT include implicit state support from Pakistan, including the transfer of large quantities of fake Indian currency.

Among LeT’s top leaders are its founder, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, ‘Commander’ Sajid Majid and ‘operations chief’ Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi. Each of these has been accused by Indian authorities of masterminding the November 26, 2008, Mumbai terror attacks (26/11), and features in in India's latest list of 50 most-wanted hiding in Pakistan. During the Mumbai attacks, LeT terrorists, while indiscriminately slaughtering Indian nationals, also made it a point to selectively kill American and Israeli civilians after inspecting their passports to ascertain their identity.

On October 18, 2009, Tahawwur Hussein Rana, a Pakistani-Canadian and David Coleman Headley, a Pakistani-American, were charged and arrested by US federal authorities in Chicago for plotting attacks on the offices of Jyllands-Posten, the newspaper which published the controversial cartoons of prophet Mohammad. According to senior US intelligence officials, the plot, nicknamed the “Mickey Mouse Project”, involved assault teams assigned to attack the headquarters of Jyllands-Posten and kill the staff. The duo, however, were not just hot headed fanatics trying to salvage the outraged religious feelings of the Muslim community. Subsequent investigations revealed that both Headley (who was known as Daood Gilani before he took  up a Christian name in 2006) and Rana were in fact LeT operatives who had conducted a reconnaissance mission in Mumbai on behalf of the LeT before the outfit had launched its dreaded attacks on the metropolis. This latter case is now the subject of a trial in Chicago.

Initial testimonies in the Chicago trial indicate that LeT terrorists worked hand-in-glove with the Pakistani external intelligence agency, Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). David Headley, Tahawwur Rana’s accomplice and a co-accused in the 26/11 case, testified that every major LeT operative had an ISI handler, and all the major operations executed by the group were conducted in coordination with these handlers. Headley also asserted that a man whom he understood to be from the Pakistani navy helped to plan the ‘maritime insertion’, instructing him to explore the position of naval vessels and possible landing sites during subsequent surveillance trips to Mumbai. His handler ‘Major Iqbal’, Headley said, was aware of the targets chosen and of the LeT leadership’s need to demonstrate their credibility through major terrorist strikes in order to retain control over elements within the organization.

US and Indian security officials familiar with the case say they believe a small coterie of serving and retired Pakistan military officers played a role in or had knowledge of the Mumbai attacks. Headley also told the US District Court jury about secretly recorded telephone conversations with Rana and retired Pakistan military officer Abdur Rehman aka Pasha. Headley testified that he had attended over 50 training sessions with the ISI, including espionage training.

The notorious Pakistan-based crime syndicate, D-Company, under the leadership of the mafia don Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar, has established a close operational relationship with LeT. Kaskar was responsible for the 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai, India’s highest fatality act of terrorism, which killed 257 people. In the past Kaskar was looked upon mainly as a mercenary, while LeT was thought to be ideology driven. Kaskar and his gang, intelligence sources believe, have now substantially merged operations with LeT. The D-Company has an international network and engages in a wide range of criminal and legal operations across West and South East Asia. On October 16, 2003, the US Department of Treasury announced that it was designating Dawood Ibrahim as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224.

Long before the Headley disclosures, terrorist activities and incidents had already been recorded across the world, betraying some degree of LeT involvement. Among the most significant of such ‘footprints of terror’, the SATP database records the following:

In 2003, Willie Brigette, a French convert to Islam, was detained on suspicion of planning attacks on the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor and the Pine Gap intelligence-gathering station in Australia. Following his extradition to France, Brigette confessed to operating under LeT instructions. It further emerged that he spent four months training in a LeT camp in Pakistan, where he received instructions in weapons handling and explosives.

In 2005, one of the main perpetrators behind the London underground bombings (7/7), Shezad Tanweer, was similarly believed to have operated in contact with LeT and had stayed at the group’s headquarters in Murdike (Pakistan). British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw disclosed that authorities in Pakistan suspected that Tanweer had been recruited during studies at a school run by the LeT.

In 2007, an investigation in Germany into a foiled terrorist plot orchestrated by the so-called Sauerland Cell, a four-man team that was planning to bomb US targets and kill American citizens in Germany on the sixth anniversary of 9/11, revealed that several German nationals had traveled to Pakistan to seek out and work with LeT operatives.

Other jihadis allegedly trained by the LeT included the Australian David Hicks, who was held in Guantanamo Bay until 2007; Omar Khayyam, who spearheaded a 2004 fertilizer bomb plot in the UK; and Dhiren Barot, the British Islamist militant of Indian origin, the architect of a failed gas cylinder bombing plot in London in 2004.

Yet another LeT module was busted by the American authorities in Virginia June 2003. Dubbed as the Virginia terror network, this was a cell of 11 members, comprising of Pakistani-Americans and local converts to Islam.  The cell was connected to the LeT. Seven of the men also traveled to Pakistan; one member allegedly trained at a LeT camp and used his experiences to recruit others into the group.

On December 15, 2009, one Pakistani-American, Syed Haris Ahmed of Atlanta, and a Bangladeshi-American, Ehsanul Islam Sadequee of Georgia, were sentenced to 13 and 17 years in prison respectively by a US court for their link to LeT and JeM and providing them with material aid and support for attacks in the US and abroad. Earlier, on September 15, 2005, US authorities arrested one Ali Asad Chandia and a British national, Mohammed Ajmal Khan, at College Park in the Maryland suburbs on charges of providing support to the LeT.  A Maryland resident, Mahmud Faruq Brent alias Mahmud Al Mutazzim, was arrested on August 5, 2005 in Newark, New Jersey, and charged with conspiring to aid terrorism by training to become a Jihadi fighter in camps in Pakistan. Brent was accused of traveling to Pakistan after 9/11 to receive training in camps operated by the LeT. On April 28, 2005, a local Muslim scholar, identified as Ali Tamimi of Fairfax County was convicted of encouraging his followers to join the LeT and to do Jehad against the US.

These, among a number of lesser cases, demonstrate the LeT’s global jihadi aspirations, as well as its consolidation as a nursery for indoctrinating, training and deploying militants with so-called “clean skins” – no prior criminal records and Western citizenships – to carry out terrorist attacks in the West.

The arrest of senior al Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah at a LeT safe house in Faisalabad in Pakistan on March 28, 2002, also provided an index of the growing intimacy between LeT and bin Laden’s al Qaeda. According to US intelligence, moreover, David Headley was in contact with al Qaeda ‘commander’ Ilyas Kashmiri. Stephen Tankel, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, notes: “Several men close to Kashmiri formerly belonged to the LeT and so they act as a bridge to the group. In terms of his relationship with the group [LeT], Kashmiri cooperates and competes with it.”

Intelligence sources suggest that elements within LeT, along with several other Pakistan-based Islamist terrorist groups, including HuJi, Laskhar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and JeM, has operationally ‘merged’ with al Qaeda under the identity of ‘Brigade 313’.

LeT has never sought to disguise its global aspirations, and the language of the global jihad and denunciations of the US and Israel, have been integral to its propaganda. Hafiz Saeed has publicly vowed that LeT would “plant a flag” in Washington and Tel Aviv. In more recent outbursts, in the aftermath of the Abbottabad Raid, Saeed extolled bin Laden’s ‘sacrifice’ for ‘Muslims around the world’ and declared that the LeT was ready to fight the US and India, and to ‘protect Pakistan’.  In March this year, he declared that “ America, India and Israel are scared of jihad. The Muslims must understand that jihad is the key to their survival.”

In the jihadi worldview there has never ever been any ambiguity about the perceived ‘enemies of Islam’. Kashmir may have been a transient tactical goal for the LeT, but its leadership has moved far beyond, identifying an ‘unholy trinity’ of ‘Crusaders, Zionists and Hindus’, as the unrelenting enemy of Islam. It is against this ‘enemy’ that the LeT – the ‘Army of the Pure’ – now directs its rage and its terror, across the world.


Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
May 23-29, 2011



Security Force Personnel





Jammu & Kashmir


Left-wing Extremism




Total (INDIA)








Khyber Pakhtunkhwa





Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.


LeT and ISI had coordinated with each other in orchestrating the 26/11 attacks, reveals Headley: During the trial of Tahawwur Hussein Rana, the Pakistani-Canadian national accused of involvement in the Mumbai terror attacks (November 26, 2008, also known as 26/11), his accomplice and co-accused, David Coleman Headley revealed that Laskhar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) had coordinated with each other in orchestrating the 26/11 attacks. Headley told the US District Court jury about secretly recorded telephone conversations he had with Rana and Pasha, the ISI official.

He also testified that Pakistani Navy, at the behest of the ISI had trained the 26/11 terrorists. It is significant in the light of intelligence inputs from Indian agencies in September 2006 that ISI was facilitating training of close to 150 LeT operatives in sea guerrilla warfare.

He also testified that he had attended over 50 training sessions with ISI. He confessed of having received espionage] training from the ISI.

He revealed that militants who perpetrated the attacks were guided on telephone by their LeT handlers who were watching the carnage live on TV from Pakistan. Times of India; The Hindu; Tribune, May 26-28, 2011.

New evidence links ISI to Mumbai attack: Fresh evidence in the form of e-mails emerged during the trial of the Pakistani-American Laskhar-e-Toiba (LeT) operative David Coleman Headley which showed that Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate played a key role in funding and organising the Mumbai terror attacks (November 26, 2008, also known as 26/11). According to reports Prosecutors in Chicago filed e-mail correspondence between Headley and a serving Pakistani intelligence officer he knew as Major Iqbal - documents which will add to the growing global concern over the ISI's links with terrorist groups. The Hindu, May 25, 2011.

Maoists using children and women as shields, says CRPF: Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadres are using innocent children and women as shields to escape during encounters with Security Forces, P. M. Nair, Additional Director General of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) said on May 25. "Security forces should be more alert in their fight against Maoists as they are using children and women in villages as shields to escape (during encounters)," said Nair. The Hindu, May 26, 2011.

Maoists operate funds to tune of INR 400 billion annually: A Police official, who interrogated Varanasi Subramanian, one of the three Central Committee members of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) revealed that the Maoist leader confessed that outfit`s annual income by way of collecting levy from big companies and loot is to the tune of INR 400 billion. However, their annual budget stood at INR 200 billion per year, Subramanian reportedly told Police. Times of India, May 24, 2011.

Pakistan is the 'global epicentre of terror', says Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram: Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on May 27 said that Pakistan was "global epicentre of terrorism" which was promoting terror infrastructure as "state policy" against India. "It is a truism to say that India lives in perhaps the most difficult neighbourhood in the world. The global epicentre of terrorism is in our immediate western neighbourhood" Chidambaram added. The Hindu, May 28, 2011.

LeT ranks at par with the al Qaeda, says visiting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano: Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram and the visiting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano committed their Governments to comprehensive sharing of information on the Mumbai terror attacks (November 26, 2008, also known as 26/11) on May 27 in New Delhi. On June 27, 2011 US secretary Napolitano commented, "I think in my judgment, the Lashkar-e-Toiba (or LeT, a Pakistan based Islamist militant outfit) ranks right up there in the al-Qaida and related groups as terrorist organisations, one that seeks to harm people and takes innocent lives." PTI, May 28, 2011.


CA term extended by another three months: The Constituent Assembly (CA) term has been extended by another three months. The Legislature Parliament passed the ninth amendment to the interim constitution in the morning of May 29 to extend the CA term. The CA term was extended after a five-point agreement among largest three political parties in the CA - Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M), Nepali Congress (NC) and Communist Party of Nepal- Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML). Nepal News, May 30, 2011

Maoist chairman Prachanda rules out transfer of weapons to Government: The Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) chairman Puspha Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda on May 27 ruled out submission of weapons possessed by the Peoples Liberation Army cadres to the state authority, saying the process would be "illogical and immature". He claimed that the Maoist party is careful in not handing over the weapons the party has to the Government as it belongs to "the martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the republic and change". Nepal News, May 28, 2011.


47 militants and 12 civilians among 60 persons killed during the week in FATA: Eight persons were killed and 11 others injured when a suicide bomber targeted pro-government tribal elders at a market in Salarzai village of Bajaur Agency in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on May 28.

At least 23 militants were killed when the Army fighter jets pounded militants' hideouts in Orakzai and Kurram Agencies on May 27.

Four persons were killed and five others injured during a clash between a lashkar (tribal militia) of Zaka Khel tribesmen and Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) in Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency on May 26.

Four persons were killed and 18 others received injuries in the Balishkhel area of Upper Kurram Agency FATA on May 25 ahead of ceasefire agreement between the warring tribes of Shia and Sunni sects.

Eight militants and a soldier were killed during a clash in Suran Darra area of Mohmand Agency on May 23.

Seven militants were killed when a US drone strike destroyed a vehicle on the outskirts of Mir Ali, around 30 kilometres east of Miranshah in North Waziristan Agency.

Three LI militants were killed while six volunteers of the Zakha Khel tribe sustained bullets injuries during a clash between Mangal Bagh led LI and Zakha Khel volunteers in Zakha Khel area of Khyber Agency. Dawn; Daily Times; The News, Tribune; May 24-30, 2011.

42 civilians and nine SFs among 53 persons killed during the week in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: Matta tehsil (revenue unit) Awami National Party (ANP) President Muzaffar Ali Khan along with a Policeman and a guest were killed when unidentified militants attacked his Hujra (guest house) at Matta tehsil in Swat District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with hand grenades and automatic weapons on May 28.

A suicide bomber blew up a car laden with explosives at a checkpoint close to the Hangu Police Station and Hangu District Police Officer Office on May 26 evening, killing 39 persons and injuring 54 others.

Nine persons were killed and over 39 got injured when militants drove a car packed with explosives into a Crime Investigation Department Police Station at University Road in Peshawar on May 25. Dawn; Daily Times; The News, Tribune; May 24-30, 2011.

US gives Pakistan list of five 'most wanted' militants: The United States on May 27 gave Islamabad a list of terrorist leaders against whom it wants joint operation against. The list includes Osama bin Laden's Deputy Ayman al Zawahiri, along with Siraj Haqqani of the Haqqani network, Ilyas Kashmiri, the head of the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) and suspected al Qaida leader, and Atiya Abdel Rahman, al Qaida operations chief, the US TV reported, citing unnamed officials from both Governments. The News, May 28, 2011.

Pakistan supports militants in Kashmir, says HM chief Syed Salahuddin: The Hizb-ul-Mujahideen 'supreme commander' Syed Salahuddin on May 26 said that Pakistan still supports militants in Kashmir despite its internal security problems. In an interview with a local news agency, Salahuddin said, "Our Mujahideen can come and go at their own will. There is no question that the army can stop us. And we have hundreds of training camps in the state where we recruit and train the Mujahideen." The HM 'commander' added that till the Kashmir issue is unresolved, Pakistan can never consider itself safe. Times of India, May 27, 2011.

Army worried about militant collaborators in its ranks, reports Washington Post: Top Pakistani Army officials are concerned that their ranks have been penetrated by infiltrators aiding terrorists in a campaign against the state. General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, according to the report, was shaken by the discovery of al Qaeda 'leader' Osama bin Laden close to a Pakistani military academy in Abbottabad, and old US officials in a recent meeting that his first priority was "bringing our house in order. Daily Times, May 29, 2011.

US plans to scale back the number of American troops in Pakistan, says Pentagon: The United States (US) military on May 25 said that it plans to scale back the number of American troops in Pakistan after Islamabad made a formal request, amid tensions over a US raid against Osama bin Laden. There are more than 200 US military personnel in Pakistan serving mostly as trainers as part of a long-running effort to counter al Qaeda and religious extremists. Dawn, May 26, 2011.

No peace in region until resolution of Kashmir issue, says Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani: Prime Minister (PM) Yousaf Raza Gilani said on May 23 that regional peace cannot be guaranteed until the resolution of Kashmir issue, urging the world's peace loving nations to come forward to resolve the issue that has jeopardised the peace efforts in the region. "Unless this core issue is resolved, the dream of peace and harmony in the region cannot come true," said the PM. Daily Times, May 24, 2011.


Dutch authorities seek permission to question former LTTE leaders in Sri Lanka: Dutch authorities investigating the financial network of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) leaders in the Netherlands plan to interrogate former and current LTTE leaders in Sri Lanka and are in the process of seeking permission from the Sri Lankan authorities. A Radio Netherlands report said Dutch authorities are currently negotiating with Sri Lankan Attorney General Mohan Peiris to get permission to interrogate 13 witnesses in Sri Lanka including former and current LTTE leaders in June 2011. Colombo Page, May 25, 2011.

The South Asia Intelligence Review (SAIR) is a weekly service that brings you regular data, assessments and news briefs on terrorism, insurgencies and sub-conventional warfare, on counter-terrorism responses and policies, as well as on related economic, political, and social issues, in the South Asian region.

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