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LET Targets Jewish and Western Interests

Updated: December 10, 2009

Posted: December 2, 2009

Israeli and Indian intelligence agencies have increased security at Jewish institutions in India in response to threats by a Pakistani-based terrorist group responsible for a series of coordinated terror attacks in Mumbai, India, in November 2008 that killed over 170 people and wounded approximately 300 others.


The alerts from Israeli and Indian intelligence agencies, issued in September and October 2009, warned that Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET), a Pakistani-based Islamic terrorist organization that seeks to drive out Indian security forces from the disputed Jammu and Kashmir regions of South Asia, is planning to attack Jewish religious places in Pune, India, and may be targeting other Indian cities.


Israel's National Security Agency (NSA) warned that LET "is preparing more attacks across India, mainly in sites visited by Western and Israeli tourists," and claimed that the threat is "very high and concrete."


LET has embraced a more global anti-Western ideology that considers the United States, Israel and India to be its primary enemies. During the Mumbai attacks, 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 called the Nariman House. 


The gunmen who attacked the Nariman House, the Mumbai headquarters of the Chabad Lubavitch movement, were reportedly told on the phone by a Pakistani controller known as "Brother Wasi" (presumably a member of LET) that "Every person you kill where you are is worth 50 of the ones killed elsewhere," according to intercepted phone calls by Indian intelligence.


The lone surviving gunman in the attacks, Mohammed Ajmal Mohammed Amir Kasab, reportedly confessed that he was told by LET militants to kill American, British and Israeli citizens because they made Muslims suffer.


Federal authorities have charged American citizen David Coleman Headley for his alleged involvement in the 2008 Mumbai attacks. According to court documents, LET tasked Headley with conducting surveillance of a number of the targeted locations, including the Chhatrapati Shivaji railway station, the Taj Mahal and Oberoi-Trident hotels, the Leopold Café and the Nariman House, the Mumbai headquarters of the Chabad Lubavitch movement. Indian news sources have reported that Headley posed as a Jew during a July 2008 visit to the Nariman House, in which suspected members of LET tortured and killed six people during the terrorist attacks four months later.


In March 2009, Headley reportedly conducted reconnaissance of other Jewish locations, including Chabad houses and other Jewish centers in Delhi, Mumbai, Goa, Pune and Pushkar. Indian new sources have reported that Headley stayed in hotels near the alleged targets and posed as a Jew to gain access to a number of the Jewish centers he scouted. 


Federal authorities have also accused Headley of conducting surveillance of a Danish synagogue on behalf of LET. Headley, a U.S. citizen, and Tahawwur Hussain Rana, a Pakistani-born Canadian citizen residing in Chicago, were allegedly planning a terrorist attack with members of LET against the offices and employees of a Danish newspaper that published controversial cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad. Headley, who was falsely under the impression that the newspaper's cultural editor was Jewish, surveilled a synagogue an LET member told him was attended by the editor. After his arrest in early October at a Chicago airport, federal authorities found a book entitled "How to Pray Like a Jew" in Headley's luggage.


Headley and Rana have also been implicated in a foiled attack on the U.S. and Indian embassies in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which reportedly was planned for November 26, 2009, the one year anniversary of the Mumbai attacks. Indian news sources have reported that Headley, Rana, and another man arrested in Pakistan, Abdur Rahman Sayeed, ordered several LET militants to carry out the attack.  At least seven men have been arrested in Bangladesh in connection to the plot, including an alleged senior member of LET.


While the Mumbai attacks were the first time that LET successfully attacked a Jewish or Israeli target, it is not the first time that they have tried.  For example, Riyazuddin Nasir (also known as Mohammed Ghouse), reportedly trained with LET and plotted to attack American and Israeli tourists in Goa, India, during the holiday season in December 2007.

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