Description: This symbol features a blue circle enclosed by a black border. The center image includes a black AK-47 rifle, placed against a yellow sun, that extends vertically from an open, green Qur’an. Above the rifle is a black, semi-circular Qur’anic phrase that reads, in Arabic, “And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah.” The white, Arabic lettering, which is set against a red background, bears the group’s original name: Markaz al-Dawa wa al-Irshad (the Center for Preaching and Guidance).
Explanation: The Qur’an signifies the centrality of Islam to Laskhar-e-Taiba’s ideology and highlights the group’s goal to establish an Islamic caliphate in Kashmir and India. The Qur’an is depicted in green, a color that has represented Islam since the days of the Prophet Muhammad, while the sun represents the wisdom and righteousness that emanate from the Qur’an. The rifle and the Qur’anic inscription above it symbolize Laskhar-e-Taiba’s commitment to violent jihad to establish a society based on Islamic precepts.
| Name Variations | Overview | Focus of Operations | Major Attacks | Leaders | Ideology | Goals | Methods | Sponsors | U.S.- Related Activities |
Lashkar-e-Taiba, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Al Mansooreen, Army of the Pure, Army of the Righteous, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Pasban-e-Ahle-Hadith, Pasban-e-Kashmir, Idara Khidmat-e-Khalq
Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET) is a Pakistani-based terrorist organization that seeks to drive out Indian security forces from Kashmir and establish an Islamic caliphate in the surrounding region. In recent years, LET and its leader, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, have embraced a more global agenda that advocates terrorism and propagates virulent rhetoric against the U.S., Israel and other perceived enemies, according to the U.S. State Department.
In November 2008, 10 suspected LET gunmen carried out a series of coordinated terror attacks against several locations frequented by Western tourists in Mumbai, killing more than 170 people and injuring approximately 300 others. Although LET never claimed responsibility for the attacks, one of the gunmen 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. American citizen David Coleman Headley has also admitted to conducting surveillance of the Mumbai headquarters of the Chabad Lubavitch movement and the other targeted locations and providing members of LET with pictures, videos and descriptions of the various targets. India’s National Investigation Agency and the FBI have reportedly confirmed that LET was planning coordinated attacks against other Jewish targets in 2010 or 2011.
LET was founded in the early 1990s as the armed wing of Markaz al-Dawa wa al-Irshad, an Islamic extremist organization and charity that recruited volunteers to fight with the Taliban against the Soviet presence in Afghanistan. LET was established with the aid of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, which also opposes Indian presence in Kashmir and provided LET with funding, weapons and intelligence until the U.S. designated LET as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in December 2001 and Pakistan banned it the following month.
After the ban, LET renamed itself Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD) and posed as a charitable organization to evade sanctions. In January 2009, JUD reportedly change its name to Tehreek-e-Tahafuz Qibla Awal, although the group appears to still have the same leaders and ideology.
According to the U.S. State Department, LET has several thousand members in Pakistan and Kashmir, most of whom are Pakistani and Afghan veterans of the Afghan wars. LET is also strengthened through collaborations with other terrorist groups comprised of non-Pakistanis, and, after a senior Al Qaeda leader was captured in an LET safe house in March 2002, has been linked to Al Qaeda.
Focus of Operations
Pakistan, India, Kashmir
- November 26–29, 2008: A series of coordinated attacks against a railway station, a popular restaurant, a hospital, two hotels and a Jewish Center: more than 170 killed, approximately 300 injured.
- July 11, 2006: Coordinated bombings on Mumbai commuter trains: more than 180 killed, more than 800 injured.
- October 29, 2005: Three coordinated bombings in New Delhi markets and on a bus: at least 63 killed, more than 200 injured.
- August 25, 2003: Twin car bombings in Mumbai: 52 killed, 150 injured.
- September 24, 2002: Raid on Akshardam Temple in Gujarat: 33 killed, 70 injured.
- May 14, 2002: Attack on Indian Army base in Kaluchak: 36 killed, 48 injured.
- December 13, 2001: Gunmen attack the Parliament of India in New Delhi in coordination with the Pakistan-based terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed: nine dead, 18 injured.
- Co-Founder and Leader: Hafiz Muhammad Saeed
- Co-Founder and Chief of Operations: Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi a.k.a. Abdullah Azam
- Military Commander: Maulana Abdul Wahid Kashmiri
- Chief of Finance: Haji Muhammad Ashraf
- Financier: Mahmoud Mohammad Ahmed Bahaziq
LET subscribes to the strict fundamentalist interpretation of Islam upheld in the Wahhabi theological tradition. Based on this radical interpretation of Islam, which is closely related to that associated with Al Qaeda, LET seeks to establish an Islamic caliphate and has declared the U.S., Israel and India as existential enemies of Islam.
LET seeks to drive out Indian security forces from Kashmir and establish an Islamic caliphate in the surrounding region. In recent years, LET's agenda has embraced a more global and anti-Western ideology that considers the U.S., Israel and India 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 has conducted terrorist operations against Indian troops and civilian targets in Kashmir using assault rifles, light and heavy machine guns, mortars, explosives and rocket-propelled grenades, according to the U.S. State Department. LET has also carried out several high-profile attacks against civilian and military targets in India, including suicide bombings and conventional assault tactics.
LET was established with the aid of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), which also opposes Indian presence in Kashmir. The ISI allegedly provided LET with funding, weapons, intelligence and instruction in exchange for promising to confine its attacks to target Hindus in Kashmir. This financial and logistical support seemingly ended in January 2002 when Pakistan banned the group and froze its assets, following the United States designation of LET as a foreign terrorist organization the previous month.
According to the U.S. State Department, LET receives donations from Pakistani expatriate communities in the Middle East and the U.K., as well as from Islamic NGOs and businessmen. Additionally, LET receives funds by siphoning recourses from the charitable activities of its front organizations, including Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation.
- Jubair Ahmad, a legal permanent resident from Pakistan was arrested in September 2011 for providing material support to LET. He had received religious and military training at LET camps in Pakistan prior to moving to the U.S., where he produced a propaganda video for the group on YouTube.
- In March 2010, American citizen David Coleman Headley pleaded guilty to helping plan the November 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, in which more than 170 people were killed. Headley conducted reconnaissance of the targeted locations and provided members of LET with pictures, videos and descriptions of the various targets prior to the attacks. 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.
- American citizen Ahmad Abousamra, who currently remains at large, was charged in November 2009 with, among other things, providing material support to terrorists. He allegedly made two trips to Pakistan in 2002 to join the Taliban and LET, but failed in his attempt. Abousamra was charged in the same indictment as Tarek Mehanna, a dual citizen of the U.S. and Egypt who was arrested in Massachusetts in September 2009.
- In the summer of 2009, American citizen Ehsanul Islam Sadequee and Syed Haris Ahmed, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan, were convicted of attempting to join LET and of shooting casing videos of U.S. landmarks for potential terrorist attacks in the Washington, D.C. area.
- The U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on four senior LET leaders in May 2008 in an effort to stifle LET’s fundraising and operational capabilities. Those designated include Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, Haji Muhammad Ashraf and Mahmoud Mohammad Ahmed Bahaziq.
- In 2007, American citizen Mahmud Faruq Brent was sentenced to 15 years in prison for conspiring to send aid to LET and attending a terrorist training camp in Pakistan. Tariq Shah, an American-born Muslim convert who was sentenced in 2007 to 15 years in prison for conspiracy to provide material support to Al Qaeda, trained Brent in martial arts and urban warfare “as part of the conspiracy to provide material support to Lashkar-e-Taiba,” according to court documents.
- A group of ten men, dubbed the “Virginia Jihad Network” by prosecutors, were convicted in Virginia on terrorism charges related to LET between 2003 and 2005. The leader of the group, Ali al-Timimi, an American-born Muslim cleric, urged the men to train at LET terrorist camps. The men trained with weapons in Virginia and seven of the defendants traveled to Pakistan to train with LET.
- The U.S. Treasury Department froze LET’s assets in December 2001 before it was designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. State Department later that month. In April 2008, the U.S. designated Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD) as an alias of LET, blocking all property and interests in property of JUD.