The recent confession by David Headley, a Chicago Pakistani-American, that he scouted targets for Lashkar-e Tayyiba’s deadly attacks in Mumbai, India provides just the latest evidence that the Pakistan-based terrorist group has expanded into a worldwide threat — and increasingly is recruiting U.S. residents as participants in its murderous campaign.
While still described as a “farm team for al Qaida,” the Pakistani group is rapidly honing its own credentials in the major leagues of Islamic terrorism.
A new analysis of Lashkar’s history prepared by the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) documents the group’s evolution since its 1989 founding as a proxy of the Pakistani government’s conflict with India, providing recruits to push the Islamic insurgency in Indian Kashmir.
Read the full report here:
An IPT Investigative Report
Early on, it notes, Lashkar’s focus was broadened to include a generalized campaign of terror against the West. By 2003, a founder of the group, Hafiz Saeed (pictured above), urged his followers to “fight against the evil trio: America, Israel, and India.” Broadening its base of operations, today the group has coordinated attacks on Western forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The report discusses increased cooperative efforts by Lashkar with al Qaida and other terrorist groups — the Afghan Taliban, Tehrik-i-Taliban (the Pakistani Taliban), Harakat-ul-Jihadi-Islami and Jaish-e-Muhammad. Meanwhile, Pakistan has been slow to act against the group and its various fronts, with some government ministers offering unabashed praise.
Moreover, the IPT analysis details the shift to expanded recruitment in the West. Among those who passed through Lashkar training camps it cites an Australian-born al Qaida operative named David Hicks, convicted “shoe bomber” Richard Reid, and Dhiren Barot, who planned a failed gas-cylinder bombing in London.
The report focuses most closely on four recent successful efforts to shut down homegrown U.S. jihadists like Headley — terrorists who journeyed overseas to Lashkar training camps, and participated in operations starting with those of the so-called “Virginia Paintball Jihad Network” and culminating in the 2008 attacks on train stations, hotels, restaurants and other public sites in Mumbai that killed 166 people, including six Americans.