2005: Another Deadly Year in Islamic Terrorism
Continuing Problems in South Asia
Posted: March 7, 2006
South Asia continued to suffer frequent terrorist attacks throughout 2005. Outside of the Middle East, the region has experienced some of the largest and deadliest such attacks in recent history. Fueled by the ongoing animosity between religious fundamentalists in Pakistan and India, South Asia remained a hotbed for Islamic terrorists seeking to wrest Kashmir from Indian control and establish an Islamic caliphate.
In 2005, these terrorist groups, including Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET), a powerful Al Qaeda-linked organization, continued a campaign of terrorism against Indian forces and civilians in the region, killing hundreds. As one of the most prominent Pakistan-based terrorist groups, LET was responsible for much of the terrorist activity in the region and carried out suicide bombings and cross-border raids into various parts of India. The Islamic organization, which has a massive infrastructure of operatives throughout Pakistan and India, sought to foment increased sectarian strife in the region by attacking both politically and religiously sensitive targets.
In an effort to inflame religious tensions, LET conducted a raid at a Hindu temple in Ayodhya in July. Additionally, in late October, the group carried out a triple suicide bombing in the Indian capital of New Delhi in which 61 people were killed and over 150 others injured. As the year continued, LET operatives were also found to be planning attacks in cities such as Bangalore and Hyderabad where they had not previously been active.
Other regional groups, such as Hizbul Mujahedin, also conducted attacks during the year, though they largely refrained from the type of large-scale bombings undertaken by LET. This was due, in part, to a stepped-up effort by Indian security forces to either kill or capture Hizbul Mujahedin's top leadership.
The massive October earthquake that devastated the mountainous regions of South Asia also significantly damaged Kashmir and Pakistan-based terrorist organizations. Though the extent of the damage to many groups is still unknown, many of their camps were destroyed and it is clear that their ability to launch terrorist attacks has diminished, at least for the short term. Additionally, in the aftermath of the earthquake, many Islamic terrorists shifted their focus from militancy to relief efforts, as groups like LET and Hizbul Mujahedin dedicated significant material and manpower to helping the thousands of earthquake victims. By the end of 2005, however, LET and other militant groups resumed their terrorist campaign in South Asia.
The year 2005 also saw a significant increase in terrorism in Bangladesh, as the nation experienced its first suicide bombings on November 29, when at least nine people were killed and dozens of others injured. During the attack, suicide bombers, reportedly affiliated with the militant Islamic group Jamayetul Mujahideen, attacked courthouses in Chittagong and Gazipur. Jamayetul Mujahideen had been banned in February for alleged involvement in a series of blasts at the offices of a non-governmental organization.
According to the Home Ministry, the organization had previously conducted a massive series of bombings in August. Approximately 350 small bombs exploded within an hour of each other in locations across the country, killing two people and injuring more than 100. The bombs exploded in all but a few of the country's 64 major towns and cities. Though these attacks caused relatively few casualties, it marked the beginning of a terrorist threat in Bangladesh, a nation that until 2005 had been relatively free from terrorism.