View Full Version : Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT)

05-17-2011, 02:35 PM
I have posted links to articles by Stephen Tankel, ex-Kings War Studies and now back in the USA @ the Carneigie Endowment for Intl Peace - as IMHO he is one of the few experts on LeT.

LeT have appeared elsewhere on SWC, notably in the Mumbai thread: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=6345and in Confronting AQ:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=9360

Stephen Tankel recently published a new, thirty page paper entitled 'Lashkar-e-Taiba: Past Operations and Future Prospects', which I will read later:http://newamerica.net/sites/newamerica.net/files/policydocs/Tankel_LeT_0.pdf

Close to the start he writes:
This paper seeks to explain how LeT became so powerful, as well as to address the evolving nature of the threat that LeT poses and, more broadly, to provide a general overview of the group. It argues that to understand LeT, one must recognize the two dualities that define it. The first is that it is a missionary and a militant organization that for most of its history has placed an equivalent emphasis on reshaping society at home (through preaching and social welfare) and on waging violent jihad abroad. The second is that its military activities are informed both by its pan-Islamist rationale for jihad and its role as a proxy for the Pakistani state.

Traditionally concerns over LeT have been on its role within Pakistan, largely due to its links to ISI and whether it is directed by them. Plus its apparent capability to launch spectacular attacks on India and the less clear capability to attack far beyond the region.

So he concludes in his final sentence:
In the meantime, LeT and the threats it poses continue to evolve.

05-25-2011, 03:13 AM
Headley testimony details ISI handling of LeT on 26/11
Chicago - A key co-plotter of the Mumbai attacks, David Coleman
Headley testified in the trial of Chicago businessman Tahawwur Rana describing how he gave frequent updates about his progress to his two Pakistani handlers -- one from a militant group and the other from the country's main intelligence agency.

The federal terrorism trial of businessman Tahawwur Rana is being
closely watched around the world for what the attack's scout --
Rana's longtime friend David Coleman Headley -- might reveal about possible links between the anti-India militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency, known as the ISI.

07-19-2011, 09:37 AM
Hat tip to Abu M for carrying a review of a new book on LeT by Stephen Tankel:http://www.cnas.org/blogs/abumuqawama/2011/07/book-review-steve-tankels-storming-world-stage-story-lashkar-e-taiba.html

The last sentence:
Tankel has produced one of the definitive accounts of Lashkar’s rise as well as the 2008 Mumbai attacks, and his book should be the go-to-guide for those looking to understand Pakistan’s reliance on proxies against India and its attached baggage.

Link to:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0231701527/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=abumuqa-20&linkCode=as2&camp=217145&creative=399369&creativeASIN=0231701527

09-15-2011, 10:47 AM
Stratfor have published a summary briefing 'The Evolution of a Pakistani Militant Network' and it is republished with their permission.


09-16-2011, 01:28 PM
This morning, while doing some other research, I came across this paper from the Indian Center for Land Warfare Studies. It might be of Interest for you.

Singh, Rohit, Understanding the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba, Center for Land Warfare Studies, Manekshaw Paper No 26, 2011


Regards PB

09-18-2011, 01:12 PM
The current issue of the "Survival" magazine contains an article from Georgetown professor and AfPak expert C. Christine Fair. Therein she tries to revise the widely accepted opinion that Pakistan relies on terrorist groups like LeT to solve its external security needs especially vis-a-vis India. For Fair this view "overlooks the domestic significance of militant groups. In fact, LeT plays an important role within Pakistan, countering other militants that have begun attacking the state and citizens alike, especially since 2002."
This means that solving the Indian-Pakistani rivalry is only one part of the solution and will not motivate Pakistan to cut its ties to these radical groups.

C. Christine Fair, Lashkar-e-Tayiba and the Pakistani state, Survival 53, 4, 29-52

11-11-2011, 09:16 PM
By none other than Zenpundit, albeit in an Indian magazine, pg.26-28 on the PDF link:http://zenpundit.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/pragati-issue56-nov2011-communityed.pdf

His review ends:
Storming the World Stage is a solidly researched book by Stephen Tankel that is apt to become the mandatory reference on Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and a useful resource on the general subject of Pakistan’s historical resort to proxy warfare. With his examination of Lashkar-e-Taiba, Tankel has made a worthy contribution to our understanding of terrorism and jihad in South Asia.

We have elsewhere discussed the Mumbai attack in 2008 and Zen comments, if not qualifies his review:
LeT also demonstrated in Mumbai a fluid tactical excellence in its use of off-the-shelf technology, small arms and mobility to reap an enormous return-on-investment by attacking soft targets, much along the asymmetric lines advocated by warfare theorist John Robb. Tactics that are a critical threat to any open society by forcing it to take preventive measures which are ruinously expensive and contraindicated to keeping society free and democratic. This is another topic that might have received greater analytical exploration.

11-12-2011, 01:46 AM
Mishandling by the dominant post-imperial powers (?driven in part by individual official's guilty conscience about having supported multiple evil proxies of their own? I am always curious if such psychodynamics plays any significant role in world affairs? or is it just grist for novelist's mills and can be ignored? I am never sure..) has allowed this threat to grow. I know colonel Roberts and many others will disagree, but I think some critical skill sets and organizations nurtured by the Pakistani state COULD have been shut down or pushed into small-scale criminality if the international community had been clear about its own objectives. That chance may now be lost.
In short, I continue to push the theory that ruinous expensive countermeasures are not the only option. The weak spot on the terrorist side was the state apparatus, not the clandestine networks themselves. By focusing on street level criminals, the operation as a whole was allowed to get away in what may have been a limited "window of opportunity".
I continue to believe that the PEOPLE of Pakistan would have been much better off it the STATE of Pakistan had faced some more pressure on this account. I genuinely believe that my obsessive carping about this issue is driven by a sincere desire to see the people of Pakistan and the Indian subcontinent leave stupid zero-sum games behind and grab a chance to transform living standards for one fourth of the world. But even I can see that I probably come across as some kind of pakiphobic monomaniac. I do try to step back and re-examine my assumptions. Maybe not hard enough?
It seems genuinely hard to know our own motives.

11-12-2011, 05:27 AM
By none other than Zenpundit, albeit in an Indian magazine, pg.26-28 on the PDF link:http://zenpundit.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/pragati-issue56-nov2011-communityed.pdf

His review ends:

We have elsewhere discussed the Mumbai attack in 2008 and Zen comments, if not qualifies his review:

Hi David

Thank you for linking. I would give Tankel's book a strong recommendation, I learned a lot about LeT from it, but his thrust is predominantly a political-historical narrative. The subject could use a theological drill-down as well as a critical assessment from a security threat perspective

12-08-2011, 01:37 PM
It took time to fully read Dr. Stephen Tankel's book and here is my review.

'Storming the World Stage: The Story of Lashkar-e-Taiba' by Dr. Stephen Tankel is a superb piece of scholarship, notably in the access gained to insiders, observers and members of the group (commonly referred to as LeT).

Yes it contains some puzzles, many of which pre-date the Mumbai attacks in 2008 and he answers nearly all in detail.

The relationship between LeT, ISI, and the Pakistani Army is made stark, which will reinforce much of the despair many in the Western governments feel about dealings with those institutions. What I think is more important is the description and evaluation of how LeT, as a civil and religious organisation has grown to a point where the Pakistani civil state cannot confront them.

We know that militant and extremist groups fractionate by their very nature, what Dr. Tankel repeatedly observes is that LeT whilst disciplined it is also un-disciplined. Key members, often acting as cadres or direct action / paramilitary advisers leave and pursue their own objectives for the ‘cause’ often returning to the group. Given the reported skills of LeT this aspect should not be overlooked and one issue is how much attention should be given to the international movement of possible members, many of whom will be “clean skins” and have Western passports?

The ‘exit, entry’ aspect begs a simple question, are LeT a new version of Conan Doyle’s ‘White Company’, skilled mercenaries who will fight (or today facilitate) well for any part of the ‘cause’. With their trans-national network it is surprising we’ve seen LeT on the world stage so little; reflecting in plots in Australia and Denmark notably.

Given that LeT’s origins lie in Kashmir and the now intermittent violence in the Indian-ruled part, in which LeT can play a role I am surprised that Dr. Tankel does not consider the contemporary support for this primarily nationalist cause beyond Pakistan. In the UK there are those who argue the Kashmiri cause resonates far less today and is reflected in the lack of any type of support for LeT. The callous shootings in Mumbai, notably at the main railway terminus, which included Muslims, undermined their legitimacy – ‘Not in my name’ comes to mind and something I've heard here in the UK amongst South Asian Muslims.

Making an assessment of LeT who entered ‘the stage’ in 2008 is made harder by the simple fact that it appears to have exited the stage since then. Was the response so negative after the media spotlight shifted, perhaps the attack a ‘one off’ and are LeT just a capable reserve option for it’s Pakistani partners?

History will be the judge of this actor, Dr. Tankel thank you; now the audience can know them better and so judge them far better.

12-08-2011, 08:03 PM
Since many of my casual friends and acquaintances (mostly left of center or left wing Pakistani civilians with no access to "classified" information) have been aware of all this for years (many years), so I propose a new intelligence gathering system in which the CIA simply asks average pakistanis on the street about such things. You can see a lot by just looking...
I realize that the problem of sifting the wheat from the chaff makes this cheap intelligence agency alternative less impressive than my snarky statement would suggest, but at least in this case, looking would probably have been a good idea..

04-04-2012, 01:28 AM
The US government has made an interesting announcement: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2012/04/02/international/i215535D40.DTL&type=health

Since Hafiz Saeed lives openly in Pakistan, addresses huge public meetings, and has appeared on live TV several times since this "bounty" was announced, its not clear what the point of the bounty is.
Is this a bargaining chip? to be shelved if Pakistan cooperates with a face-saving exit from Afghanistan?
Is it to buy Indian cooperation against Iran?
Is it a colossal bureaucratic SNAFU?
Or is it real? and what does it mean if it is real? What if Pakistan doesnt arrest him or just asks him to pipe down for a few weeks (as has been done in the past) under "house arrest"?
Inquiring minds want to know..

04-04-2012, 02:14 PM

The purpose is two fold.

The first is to send a signal to the Pakistani government that we are really serious about things this time, not like the last time. We perfected the art of signaling hostile governments during the war in Vietnam

The second is so people in DC can have something stern to put into a powerpoint presentation when they brief each other about the tough measures they are taking.

You just don't understand how sophisticated nuanced minds work.

04-04-2012, 02:39 PM
In my un-nuanced leftist past, I would have been thrilled with how this is making the US a laughingstock (Hafiz Saeed appeared at a press conference half a mile from GHQ yesterday..not hard to find). The entertainment value is huge. My Twitter feed is ablaze with jokes about Hafiz Saeed revealing his location and asking for the ten million to be sent to him as a reward.
But now that I am "nuanced", I am a bit more "conflicted".
I mean sure, the US should just leave the region and stop making an ass of themselves. Maybe the ruling elite's in India, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan are all adults and will do a better job without "help" from Uncle Sam. Or who knows, maybe the anarchists are right. I am rooting for healthy Chomskyan Anarchy.
In principle it sounds good. But in practice, I think the transition may not go smoothly. Anyway, that is a moot point. The big white sahib may soon make enough of an ass of himself to make the whole debate irrelevant.

04-04-2012, 03:28 PM

The inability of the DCenians to see what the rest of the world can see is a wonderment. I guess that is what an education at the best schools gives you, an impenetrable supercilious arrogance.

04-04-2012, 04:59 PM
It is given Hafiz the scare of his life.

Poor Joe!

India maybe wimpish, but Osama and what the US did does scare this heroes in their own territory!

When one is running scared, one tries to head off with the irrelevant.

Remember the Icon and Guru of Islamic fundamentalist - Osama - and what the US did to him.

And what is most important is that they could get their man defying the complete Pakistani infrastructure, defence, ISI and otherwise!

It sure will give one who has been declared a target by the US, many, many sleepless nights and visits to the toilet!

The big white sahib seems to be making friends with many browns and yellows around the Indian sub continent and SE Asia!

Latest report indicates 2500 of these sahibs landing in Darwin!

04-04-2012, 06:15 PM
I dont see him scared at all. In fact, the blessed state department has just clarified that the reward is for "information linking him to attacks", not on his head. So it seems the US is basically saying, we dont have any proof and the pesky Indians keep asking us to do something, so here is a reward for anyone who can find some proof...good hunting.
If I was not American, I would be rolling on the floor laughing my ass off...

04-04-2012, 06:17 PM
Remember the Icon and Guru of Islamic fundamentalist - Osama - and what the US did to him.

And what is most important is that they could get their man defying the complete Pakistani infrastructure, defence, ISI and otherwise!

I think that was an inside job. They knew we were coming because we told them and they decided to take the heat. Either they had to or we gave them something. No proof beyond the reports that the police set up perimeters before the hit but that is what I will forever think.

04-04-2012, 06:56 PM
I think that was an inside job. They knew we were coming because we told them and they decided to take the heat. Either they had to or we gave them something. No proof beyond the reports that the police set up perimeters before the hit but that is what I will forever think.

If it is an inside job, then Pakistanis are as good as the Afghans - sold to the highest bidder!

Pakistanis claim to be wedded to their nation and their cause.

Therefore, would they sell themselves and their 'guest'?

04-04-2012, 10:48 PM
Now on our blog: http://www.brownpundits.com/the-hafiz-saeed-farce/

04-05-2012, 11:32 PM
Prodded by adverse comments from friends, I have tried to explain my reasoning for why i referred to this "bounty" as a farce (not because the US is non-serious but because the messaging is so bad): http://www.brownpundits.com/the-hafiz-saeed-farce/

04-05-2013, 03:25 PM
An in depth CTC research paper 'The Fighters of Lashkar‐e‐Taiba: Recruitment,
Training, Deployment and Death', published yesterday; hat tip to Circling the Lion for a reminder.

The Executive Summary opens with:
This paper is a study of over 900 biographies of the deceased militants of Lashkar‐e‐Taiba (LeT), a Pakistani militant group that has waged a campaign of asymmetric warfare against Indian security forces and civilians in the contested region of Kashmir for over two decades, as well as other parts of India more recently. (Later it explains)Specific emphasis is placed on providing insights into the following four research questions:
1) What is the general background of LeT’s localfighters?
2) How and from where are these fighters recruited?
3) What level of training do these fighters have and where were they trained?
4) Where exactly do LeT’s fighters die?

There is a lot of data to absorb in the sixty pages.

From the conclusion:
This research contributes to the evolving body of literature that suggests that poverty, limited education and time spent at a madrassa are poor predictors for determining either support for terrorism or participation in terrorism in Pakistan.

Which appeared on this SWC thread:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=16304


For other comments on the research see: (http://circlingthelionsden.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/drilling-down-into-lashkar-e-taiba.html) and http://www.propublica.org/article/terror-group-recruits-from-pakistans-best-and-brightest

What strikes me is that based on 917 LeT combatants killed between 1989-2008, based on their published biographies, and the speculation that LeT has trained far more, from the low tens of thousands to two hundred thousand, that is a remarkably low loss rate. Which once again, IIRC as Stephen Tankel concluded in his book, LeT is not about fighting, but the political struggle within Pakistan - leaving aside its long suspected role as a resource for Pakistan's not so covert conflict with India and maybe others.

See a parallel thread on militants giving up:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=15691

04-15-2013, 06:23 PM
A reminder of LeT's role in Afghanistan from 'The Long War Journal':
The "senior Lashkar-e-Taiba leader" and "a number of other insurgents" were captured in the district of Andar in Ghazni, the International Security Assistance Force stated in a press release. ISAF did not identify the nationality of the leader or the "other insurgents" captured during the raid.

The Lashkar-e-Taiba leader "planned and participated in multiple attacks against Afghan and Coalition forces throughout Kunar, Kandahar and Ghazni provinces" and "was actively planning a high-profile attack at the time of his arrest."


It must be a LeT day, as there is another new thread on them.:)

04-15-2013, 06:50 PM
For Ajmal Amir Kasab, the LeT recruit who killed - with another - fifty-eight commuters @ Mumbai train station, his actions were:
It [jihad] is about killing and getting killed and becoming famous.

I recommend you read this superb long article, using Kasab's own testimony, as the only gunman captured alive after the Mumbai massacre in 2008:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/india/9985109/Mumbai-terror-attacks-the-making-of-a-monster.html

Dr Christine Fair, a terrorism expert from Georgetown University in Washington, DC, who has studied the recruitment of young men into terrorist organisations, describes the appeal of LeT to young Pakistani potential recruits as its having the 'Rambo factor – even more of the “wow” factor than al-Qaeda’.

Personally I think CT professionals, let alone the public and others undervalue the non-Jihad aspects of the recruiting process. I recall Germans were recruited for an IMU camp in the FATA for "a summer vacation with guns".

There are threads on the 'Mumbai Attacks and their impact' at:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=6345

12-30-2013, 09:55 PM
An update by Christine Fair on the LeT's non-lethal "social work":
,,offers a different take on LeT, describing how the organization has embraced social welfare activities since 9/11 and, with the cooperation of the Pakistani state, has successfully rebranded itself as a more benign entity, even as it maintains its violent role.


SWJ Blog
09-12-2015, 07:51 AM
The Lashkar's Empire of Jihad (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/the-lashkars-empire-of-jihad)

An article on SWJ Blog by Christine Fair, who writes regularly on LeT and two passages cited:
The Pakistan army and the intelligence agency it runs, the Interservices Intelligence Directorate or ISI, did not create the LeT; but they did believe that LeT, with its demonstrable superior capabilities, would intensify the conflict in Kashmir and expand the geographical expanse of the insurgency. From the early 1990s, the ISI and the Pakistan army invested heavily in LeT. The army helped to build LeT's military apparatus specifically for use against India and it designed LeT' military training regime. It co-located army and ISI personnel at LeT training bases to help execute the regime and to train the organization's trainers and this remains true to date. All senior leadership have ISI handlers, even Saeed himself. Pakistan's investments paid off: within a few years LeT became the biggest challenge to the Indian security forces in Kashmir prior to the introduction of the Jaish-e-Mohammad many years later. In 1999 LeT introduced a new kind of attack in Indian-administered Kashmir: the fidayeen attack (also spelled fedayeen). By introducing the fidayeen attack, the LeT and its Pakistani handlers aimed to reverse a three-year decline in militant activity in Indian-administered Kashmir. LeT's fidayeen missions are not "suicide attacks;" rather, high-risk missions in which well-trained commandos engage in fierce combat during which dying is preferable to being captured…

07-13-2016, 09:51 PM
Hat tip to WoTR for the superb SME Stephen Tankel's article 'Pakistani Militants and the State: friends, foes and frenemies'. A topic that is in several threads.

The donor journal's Abstract:
States commonly take one of three approaches to militant groups on their soil: collaboration; benign neglect; or belligerence. All three approaches are present in Pakistan, where some groups also move back and forth among these categories. I employ the term “coopetition” to capture this fluidity. The dynamic nature of militancy in Pakistan makes the country an excellent laboratory for exploring a state’s assessment of the utility an Islamist militant group offers, and the threat it poses relative to other threats informs the state’s treatment of that group. In this article, I put forward a typology that situates Islamist militants in Pakistan in one of the above four categories. I also illustrate how a group’s identity, objectives, and alliances inform assessments of its utility and threat relative to other threats. In addition to enhancing our understanding of militant–state dynamics, this taxonomy builds on and helps to unify earlier typologies of Pakistani militancy.Link:http://warontherocks.com/2016/07/pakistani-militants-and-the-state-friends-foes-and-frenemies/

Given his work on LeT I'd missed this in his book, but it sums up the relationship complex well:
In terms of collaboration, LeT remains Pakistan’s most reliable state-allied organization. The group is not only the military’s most useful proxy against India, but has also has carried out a propaganda campaign (http://www.usip.org/sites/default/files/PW89-Domestic%20Barriers%20to%20Dismantling%20the%20Mil itant%20Infrastructure%20in%20Pakistan.pdf) against al-Qaeda and the TTP, demonizing them for attacks in Pakistan. The Pakistani security services used LeT to gather intelligence on anti-state militants and, at times, to neutralize them. LeT has provided similar services against separatists in Balochistan (http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01402390.2016.1174114?journalCode=fjss20).There is a thread on LeT:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=13337

05-01-2018, 12:16 PM
An Indian newspaper reports:
Saudi Arabia has confirmed on the basis of DNA tests that the (suicide) bomber who blew himself up outside the US Consulate in the western Saudi coastal city of Jeddah two years (July 2016) ago in a foiled suicide attack was Fayaz Kagzi, an Indian national and alleged operative of the Lashkar-e-Toiba, a senior security official told The Indian Express.

Note the bomber was aligned to LET and then ISIS; where was he most of the time? Saudi Arabia. With bombings in India linked to him in 2010 and 2012, plus a suspect for training the Mumbai attackers in 2008.

11-14-2018, 08:39 PM
A new book 'In Their Own Words: Understanding Lashkar-e-Tayyaba' by Christine Fair and the publisher's summary starts with:
This path-breaking volume reveals a little-known aspect of how Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, a jihadist terrorist group, functions in Pakistan and beyond by translating and commenting upon a range of publications produced and disseminated by Dar-ul-Andlus, the publishing wing of LeT. Only a fraction of LeT’s cadres ever see battle: most of them are despatched on nation-wide ‘proselytising’ (dawa) missions to convert Pakistanis to their particular interpretation of Islam, in support of which LeT has developed a sophisticated propagandist literature.

11-27-2018, 11:05 AM
There are several updates on LeT on the tenth anniversary of the Mumbai attacks on that thread:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?6345-Mumbai-Attacks-and-their-impact/page10

01-15-2019, 09:27 AM
This FPRI paper was published in Orbis, in November 2018, by Tricia Bacon is an assistant professor at American University's School of Public Affairs, Washington, D.C,, but was only spotted today.

The Abstract:
Ten years ago, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba launched an attack that paralyzed the Indian megacityof Mumbai for days. The operation, occurring in the midst of major instability and violence in Pakistan, raised concerns that Lashkar—the Pakistani military’s most powerful proxy—had gone rogue and would now operate as an unrestrained global jihadist organization. However, it subsequently became clear that the operation in Mumbai was actually a product of Lashkar’s long-standing ties with the Pakistani military. The past ten years have further solidified their close relationship. Far from going rogue, the group has remained responsive to the Pakistani security establishment’s agenda in India, Afghanistan, and at home. The past decade has only reduced the policy options available to counter the group, while the constant danger looms that it will conduct an attack that precipitates a war between India and Pakistan—two nuclear powers.
Link:https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S003043871830098X?via%3Dihub and also available as a PDF:https://reader.elsevier.com/reader/sd/pii/S003043871830098X?token=0347438B161D315F3A7EF473F5 EFE9ABF1B6B3254F7324BC2B77AFC123C1A6A60195F67BA31B 4714A062711792A1E73A