Updated: September 7, 2011
Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET), a Pakistani-based Islamic terrorist organization, seeks to drive out Indian security forces from the disputed Jammu and Kashmir regions of South Asia and establish an Islamic caliphate. Over the past few years, LET's agenda has embraced a more global anti-Western ideology that considers the United States, Israel and India to be its primary enemies. As part of this campaign, LET has vowed that it will plant the "flag of Islam" in Washington, Tel Aviv and New Delhi.
LET demonstrated its new focus in a series of coordinated terror attacks in Mumbai, India, in November 2008 that killed over 170 people and wounded approximately 300 others. At least ten armed militants attacked several locations frequented by tourists throughout Mumbai, including a railway station, a popular restaurant, a hospital, two hotels and a Jewish Center. Although LET never claimed responsibility for the attack, one of the militants captured by Indian authorities reportedly admitted that he belongs to LET and trained with the other gunmen at LET camps in Pakistan in preparation for the attacks.
An American citizen, David Coleman Headley, was charged in December 2009 with helping to plan the attack and allegedly conducted reconnaissance of a number of the targeted locations. Headley has also been implicated in several other apparent LET plots, including a plot to attack the offices and employees of a Danish newspaper, a plot to attack Jewish locations in five different cities in India and a plot to attack the U.S. and Indian embassies in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Headley's involvement in recent LET terror plots in India and Europe demonstrates the terrorist group's attempt to extend its reach in the West.
The front group for LET in Pakistan, Jamaat-ud Dawa, reportedly changed its name in January 2009 to Tehreek-e-Tahafuz Qibla Awal, or the Movement for the Safeguarding of the First Center of Prayer, which appears to be in reference to Al Aqsa Mosque. The name change demonstrates an ideological shift to further support and identify with the Palestinians.
LET was designated as a terrorist organization by the United States in December 2001; designated by Pakistan in January 2002; and designated by the United Nations in May 2005.