The LeT: What's it all about
Their 'agenda', as outlined in a pamphlet titled 'Why are we waging jihad', includes the restoration of Islamic rule over all parts of India.india Updated: Jun 01, 2006 12:32 IST
Formed in 1990 in the Kunar province of Afghanistan, LeT is the military wing of the Markaz-ud-Dawa-wal-Irshad (MDI).
Its first presence in Jammu and Kashmir was recorded in 1993 when 12 Pakistani and Afghan mercenaries infiltrated across the Line of Control (LoC) in tandem with the Islami Inquilabi Mahaz, a terrorist outfit then active in the Poonch district of J&K.
The LeT’s professed ideology goes beyond merely challenging India's sovereignty over Jammu and Kashmir. Their '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 propagates a narrow Islamist fundamentalism preached by its mentor, the MDI. It seeks to bring about a union of all Muslim majority regions in countries that surround Pakistan. The outfit claimes to have assisted the Taliban and the Al Qaeda in Afghanistan during November and December 2002 in their fight against the US aided Northern Alliance.
Leadership and command structure
According to the MDI, the LeT has a General Council under the leadership of Maulana Abdul Wahid Kashmiri, with Zaki ur Rehman Lakhwi as the 'Supreme Commander' within Jammu & Kashmir.
Other members of the the General Council are Abdullah of Anantnag of Islamabad, Haji Mohammad Azam of Poonch, Muzammil Butt of Doda, Mohammad Umair of Baramullah, Chaudhri Abdullah Khalid Chauhan of Bagh, Rafiq Akhtar of Muzaffarabad, Aftab Hussain of Kotli, Faisal Dar of Srinagar, Chaudhri Yusuf of Mirpur, Maulana Mohammad Sharif Balghari of Baltistan, Raja Mohammad Irshad (advocate)and Masood Lone (advocate).
Earlier, the LeT was led by its Amir, Prof. Hafiz Muhammad Saeed. The operational chief was Commander Saifullah, a Pakistani mercenary.
Area of operation
While the Valley is the prime area of LeT's operations, the outfit is also active in Jammu 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 Hizbul Mujahideen.
The LeT is also reported to have been directed by the ISI to widen its network in the Jammu region, where Punjabis form a considerable chunk of the population.
The LeT 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 attacks in USA has indicated that 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 Organisations (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 Pakistani 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.
The Pakistan Army also aids members of the outfit in infiltration and clashes with Indian security forces near the borders by providing covering fire.
The LeT has also been part of the Bosnian campaign against the Serbs.