Terrorist outlaws – or a group with friends in high places?

The prime suspect for the attack on Mumbai, Lashkar-e-Toiba, is the biggest and most violent of the Islamist groups fighting against India for a separate Kashmir. It has also, over the years, built up close links with al-Qa'ida and ISI, the Pakistani intelligence service.

It is Lashkar's policy of bombings and shootings within India as well as Kashmir that has brought Pakistan and India, two nuclear-armed powers, to the brink of conflict in recent years. The link to the ISI, often described as a state-within-a-state in Pakistan, may again shift relations between India and Pakistan to incendiary levels if evidence is uncovered that the intelligence organisation was involved in the attack.

Delhi has repeatedly accused Islamabad of actively colluding in the group's attacks and threatened retribution. The Pakistanis deny the charge and point out that the organisation is banned in the country.

The Pakistani defence, analysts point out, is disingenuous. It is indeed the case that the group was officially outlawed by Pervez Musharraf under American pressure in 2002 after a series of bombings in Delhi. However, Lashkar simply continued under the new name of Jama'at-ud-Da'wah. What appears to be the case is that even the country's military regime had little control over a client organisation of the ISI, and the fundamentalists in the armed forces hierarchy and the current civilian government is far more impotent to curb the militants that the Pakistani state had once had a part in creating.

Lashkar, and similar groups, receive funding as well as recruits from the Kashmiri, and broad Pakistani community. One of its more infamous recruits was Rashid Rauf, who was wanted in connection with the plot to blow up transatlantic airliners and was recently reported to have been killed in an American air strike in North Waziristan. Some of the funds donated by the wider Western public, and, ironically India, following the earthquakes of three years ago were siphoned into Lashkar funds. It is also the beneficiary, according to Pakistani and Western analysts, of large scale funding from the ISI.

Lashkar maintains close relationship with al-Qa'ida and other jihadist organisations. Some of its fighters were killed in an al-Qa'ida camp when Bill Clinton ordered missile strikes against Osama bin Laden following the bombing of the US embassy in the Kenyan capital. The organisation's camp at Muridke near Lahore, was used as a hideout by two senior al-Qa'ida operatives, Ramzi Yousef and Mir Aimal Kansi.

Although the organisation's chief aim is to drive Indian forces out of Kashmir, it was originally founded in 1991 by Hafiz Muhammad Saeed in the Kunar province of Afghanistan to fight against the then Marxist government in Kabul. It has sent members to fight alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan. In return, Pakistani, as well as Arab and Chechen fighters, were among Lashkar forces sent into Kashmir against Indian forces.

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed remains its spiritual leader with Maulana Abdul Wahid Kashmiri its military commander. The group calls for the destruction of India and Israel, and also has the professed aim of introducing Islam wherever there had been a significant Muslim population any time in history, including Spain, Russia and China. Lashkar also advocates the establishment of Sharia law and the Muslim "universal ummah" within Muslim communities in the West including the UK.

It is, however, Kashmir and India which have been the scene of most its activity, with some of its operations inside India conducted with home-grown Islamist groups such the Indian Mujaheddin. The group has been accused of mass killings of Sikhs and Hindus in Kashmir; the bombings at Delhi markets which killed 60 people, the deaths of 90 people in explosions at the Hindu pilgrim city of Benares, 211 more in blasts on commuter trains in Mumbai, and the attack on parliament in Delhi in 2001 which brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war in 2001.

Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
musicKate Bush asks fans not to take photos at London gigs
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Manchester United are believed to have made a £15m bid for Marcos Rojo
sportWinger Nani returns to Lisbon for a season-long loan as part of deal
News
news
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
O'Toole as Cornelius Gallus in ‘Katherine of Alexandria’
filmSadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing & Commnunications Executive, London

£30000 - £34000 per annum: Charter Selection: This highly successful organisat...

MI Analyst-Reporting-Bank-Edinburgh-£260/day

£230 - £260 per day + competitive: Orgtel: MI Analyst-Reporting-Bank-Edinburgh...

Junior Database developer (SQL, T-SQL, Excel, SSRS, Crystal rep

£25000 - £30000 per annum + bonus+benefits+package: Harrington Starr: Junior D...

Residential Property

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Residential Conveyancer - Wiltshire We have a...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment