This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/3758
December 17, 2008
The Role Of "Lashkar-e-Taiba" In The Mumbai attacks
By EMERSON VERMAAT
December 17, 2008 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - There is no doubt anymore that the Pakistani jihadist group "Lashkar-e-Taiba" (also spelled as "Lashkar-e-Toiba," "Lashkar-e-Tayyiba" or "Lashkare Taiba") was behind the terrorist attacks on Mumbai (Bombay), India, in November 2008. According to the most recent figures 163 people died, including 18 members of the security forces. The number of wounded was 293. Nine terrorists were killed, one was captured by the security forces. All of them were Pakistanis. It is possible that some of terrorists, possibly 5, escaped or remain unaccounted for. (In the hijacked MV Kuber trawler not 10 but 15 identical life vests were found.)
The masterminds of these spectacular attacks on multiple targets in Mumbai presumably were Yusuf Muzammil and Zaki ur-Rehman Lakhvi. The latter is Lashkar-e-Taibi's chief of operations. Muzammil is the No. 3 in the Lashkar-e-Taibi (LeT) hierarchy and the right-hand man to Lakhvi.1 Lakhvi was in Karachi when the terrorists struck.
"Muzammil," write M.J. Gohel and Sajjid M. Gohel in their paper on "The Mumbai Terror Siege Attacks," "talked by Thuraya satellite phone to the gunmen from Lahore, Pakistan, when the terrorists were at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station, Leopold Café and the Taj and Oberoj hotels. Disturbingly, the gunmen also used the mobile phones of the people they killed to call back Muzammil in Lahore, Pakistan. (...) Also being investigated by Western authorities is the possibility that Muzammil was watching the siege unfolding on television in Lahore and giving the terrorists regular real time updates as to what the Indian security agencies were planning."2
"The terrorists had left one satellite phone on board the MV Kuber trawler. That phone contained the telephone numbers of Muzammil, Lakhvi and a number of additional LeT operatives. The number that was used to speak to Muzammil matched the same number on the phones that were recovered at the Taj and Oberoj hotels. In fact, dozens of calls had been made."3
It was in March 2007 that an Indian coast guard vessel discovered a group of young Pakistani men who were on board a fishing trawler. They were on their way to Mumbai. What were they planning to do there? Indian intelligence officers soon realized that the young men belonged to Lashkar-e-Taiba. But the Pakistani Islamists never divulged what they were up to. They were probably on a reconnaissance mission to find out how easy or how difficult it was for a group of young Pakistani men to arrive in Mumbai by boat.4 Twenty months later, on Wedneday evening November 26, 2008, a group of committed and extremely well trained LeT terrorists arrived in Mumbai using two inflatable dinghies which they had taken on board the fishing trawler they had hijacked. (The crew of that trawler was killed, the captain's throat was cut.)
"I was told to go to Mumbai to spread terror and my family will be taken care of by Lashkar-e-Taiba," Azam Amir Kasab (Kasav), the only Pakistani terrorist who was captured, told the Indian police. He said that he was from a poor family and that he had been forced to undergo training and to go to Mumbai. He said he had received his training in Lashkar-e-Taibi camps together with the other terrorists. All the terrorists planned to return to Pakistan after successfully carrying out the attacks, Kasab told the police.5 He also revealed the name of the leader of the operation: Zaki ur-Rehman Lakhvi, LeT operations chief who is also known as "Chaca." Lakhvi was arrested by the Pakistani security forces on December 8, 2008.
The names of the terrorists who partipated in the Mumbai attack
India released the following list of names of Mumbai attackers and their targets:
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST)/Victoria Terminus Train Station:
Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab (Abu Muhajid) of Okara Village, Punjab (Pakistan)
Ismail Khan (Abu Ismail) from Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistan;
Hafeez Arshad (Abdul Rehman Bada) from Multan, Pakistan;
Javed alias Abu Ali, also from Okara
Shoaib (Soaib) from Narowal Sialkot, Pakistan;
Nazeer (Abu Umera), from Faisalabad, Pakistan;
Chabad House/Nariman House (Orthodox Jewish center):
Nasir (Abu Umar), also from Faizalabad, Pakistan;
Babbar Imran (Abu Aqasha), also from Multan, Pakistan;
Abdul Rehman (Abdul Rehman Chota) of Arafwala, Multan Road, Pakistan;
Fahadullah (Abu Fahad) of Bipalpur Taluka, Okara, Pakistan.6
Originally, the attacks were planned for September 27, 2008, Kasav told the police. The plan was changed after India had arrested several members of the "Indian Mujahideen," a local jihadist network. Those who were arrested somehow could have been involved in the planning as well. That same month there was also an intelligence alert by India's foreign intelligence agency RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) about a possible attempt by Lashkar to attack Mumbai by the sea route, "The Times of India" reported. (This very serious warning was ignored by others, however.) "Because of the changed plan, the gang set out for Mumbai on November 23 on board the Lashkar ship Al Hussaini."7 They subsequently hijacked the Indian fishing trawler Kuber, killing the capitain Amarsinh Solanki and the crew. With the help of a GPS navigation map they brought the trawler to Mumbai where they arrived on November 26.
Lashkar-e-Taiba was founded in Afghanistan
Lashkar-e-Taiba ("Army of the Pure") was founded in Afghanistan's Kunar province in 1990 as the armed wing of "Markaz-ud-Dawa wal-Irshad" (MDI, ("Proselytization and Guidance Center"). Its primary concern was the "liberation" of the Indian part of Kashmir. Later, however, the scope of the jihad (holy war) would be broadened to the "liberation" of the whole of India as well as other parts of Asia, turning these vast areas into an Islamic state. Pakistani intelligence, the Inter-Services Intelligence or ISI, was instrumental in the creation of Lashkar-e-Taiba. The founder was a Pakistani university professor named Hafiz Muhammad Saeed.
After 9/11 and the attack on the Indian parliament in December 2001, Pakistani president President Musharraf banned LeT (on January 13, 2002). He also had a number of LeT operatives detained (but they were later released again). LeT did not cease to exist, however, nor had the ISI completely abandoned this terrorist organization. Already on December 24, 2001, three weeks before Musharraf's ban that is, LeT founder and leader Hafiz Muhammad Saeed announced that his organization's new name would be "Jama'at-ud-Dawa" (JuD). Saeed would remain chief, "Maulana" (=master or lord) Zaki ur-Rehman Lakhvi would be its supreme commander. Jama'at-ud-Dawa would provide assistance to Lashkar-e-Taiba and any donations meant for the latter could be sent to the former.8
Previous spectacular terrorist attacks
LeT began to operate in "occupied" (=Indian) Kashmir as early as January 1990 when Indian Air Force Squadron leader Khanna was killed along with his four pilots while waiting for transport at a bus stop.9 In December 2000 there was a spectacular attack on the Red Ford at New Delhi, a prime tourist tourist spot with mogul architecture. Twelve Indian soldiers were killed, but the LeT "fedayeen" (= "those who are ready to sacrifice their life") somehow managed to escape.
There was another attack on the airport of Srinagar, the capital of the Indian part of Kashmir ("Jammu and Kashmir"), in January 2001. The attack was described in the February 2001 issue of the JuD/LeT outlet "Al-Dawa":
"The operation started at 2:15 pm Pakistan time and continued for three and a half hours. After taking over the airport for three and a half hours the fedayeen were granted martyrdom by God one after the other. Eighteen Indian men including an officer were killed in this attack while fifteen two twenty were wounded. (...) Prior to the operation brother Abu Khazla did a complete reconnaissance inside the airport, noting details of all the offices and installations. It must be remembered that brother Abu Khazla was in the Air Force for seven years. Usually most international airports have a similar design and structure that is why he knew everything. Two other brothers gathered information about the buildings, roads and entrances around the airport. In this manner there were three men in the operation who knew all there was to know about the airport and had seen everything with their own eyes."10
Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed (another militant Kashmiri organization) were behind the attack on the Indian Parliament in December 2001. "Five terrorists," a press report says, "breached the massive security cordon in Parliament House building around 11:45 am, firing from AK-47 rifles and hurling grenades."11 Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had just left the building when the terrorist attack occurred. Five policemen, a security guard, a gardener as well as all the attackers were killed, 18 others were injured. Indian Interior Minister Lal Kishenhand Advani said: "It would have been a tragedy far worse than the September 11 attack in the United States had the terrorists entered Parliament House when the top political leaders and 700 parliamentarians were in."12 Advani also said that "some terrorist organizations active in a neighboring country (=Pakistan) were behind the attack."
This terrorist attack led to a major standoff between India and Pakistan: both nuclear powers were on the brink of a nuclear war. In August 2003 the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) killed Jaish-e-Mohammed commander-in-chief Ghazi Baba, the alleged mastermind of the attack.13
These three examples show the modus operandi of the LeT jihadists and planners. Reconnaissance is thorough, sometimes inside information is obtained from (former) staff members who were or still are employed in the building which is being targeted for an attack. Martyrdom is to be preferred (see the attack on Srinagar Airport) but not absolutely necessary. Trying to escape in order to be available for another operation is not considered wrong, on the contrary, as the attack on the Red Ford shows. This is why it is possible that the total number of terrorists who attacked Mumbai in November 2008 was not ten but fifteen. Five may have escaped or may have been given shelter by local militant Muslims. (By far most Mumbai Muslims condemned the attacks, however.) Kasab told the police that the killer squad of ten was accompanied by five others on the Lashkar ship Al-Husseini. The five returned after taking control of the trawler Kuber, he said.14 This is possible but it is also possible that the five others did participate in the killing orgy in Mumbai and then escaped and that Kasab was not willing to betray them. He also told the police: "We were reassured of escape after the attack." The five additional life vests were found in the fishing trawler.
Targeting India, Israel (the Jews) and America ("the evil trio")
The terrorist attacks on Mumbai – "India's 9/11" – the Red Ford at New Delhi and the Indian Parliament show that Lashkar-e-Taiba does not limit its activities to Kashmir. Mohammed Khalid who runs Lashkar-e-Taiba's "Finance Department," told Mohammad Amir Rana in 2004: "Prior to September 11, and even now to a certain extent, we were in a position to liberate Kashmir any time, but our target is the whole of India and it is Israel's turn after that."15
This is why the Mumbai terrorist attackers also targeted Chabad (Nariman) House, a peaceful and hospitable Orthodox Jewish Center in Mumbai, killing young rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka. The young Jewish couple's two year old boy Moshe was miraculously saved by Sandra Samuel, Moshe's nanny.16 This young Indian woman shows us that non-Jews can confront the powers of evil and destruction by saving one Jewish life. Such things also occurred during the Holocaust.
David Aaronovitch is puzzled by the motives and behavior of these "psychotic terrorists in search of a grievance" who probably never encountered a Jew or knew anyone else who had. "Why kill a rabbi?" he asks in his column in "The Times" (London). "Why invade the small headquarters of a small outreach sect of a small religion, which far from being even a big symbol of anything, you would almost certainly need a detailed map and inside knowledge even to find?"17
Mumbai terrorist Kasab told the Indian police that they were sent with a specific mission of targeting Israelis to avenge atrocities on Palestinians. A source told "The Times of India" that those terrorists who attacked Nariman House had previously stayed there on a rental basis identifying themselves as Malaysian students. Indian crime branch, the same newspaper reported, discovered several fake identity and credit cards from the belongings of the dead terrorists.18
In March 2003 the Musharraf government allowed the officially banned LeT to organize a conference where LeT founder and leader Hafiz Muhammad Saeed condoned suicide bombings and urged fighters to go to Iraq. "We must fight against the evil trio, America, Israel and India. Suicide missions are in accordance with Islam. In fact a suicide attack is the best form of jihad."19
LeT leaders regard Hindus as "polytheists" and Jews as "enemies of Islam." It is legitimate, therefore, to kill them. A LeT party document emphasizes that Muslim rule must be established in the whole of India. It is not just about liberating Kashmir. Even Spain, once a Muslim country ("Al-Andalus"), must be reconquered by Islam.20
Lashkar-e-Taiba training camps and cooperation with Al-Qaeda
LeT terror plots are known for their meticulous planning and modus operandi. We noted already that casing targets is a key element of any operation. They must have learnt these techniques from Al-Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Lashkar-e-Taiba and some other Pakistani jihadist organizations (notably "Jaish-e-Mohammed") have close connections to Al-Qaeda. As Muhammad Amir Rana states in his thorough study "A to Z of Jihadi Organizations in Pakistan": "Osama bin Laden has been playing the role of mediator between different jihadi organizations, and Arab mujahideen (=holy warriors) and members of Al-Qaeda have been receiving military training in camps belonging to these organizations in Afghanistan."21
There was an important conference in 1999 where Osama bin Laden and several jihadist organizations decided to redouble the efforts to bring about an Islamic government in Kashmir. Kashmir was "to be turned into an alternative base camp for Islamic organizations. After this conference jihadi organizations took it upon themselves to announce a rule of Shariah in Occupied Kashmir and in many areas women were forbidden to come out in public unveiled or wearing western clothes."22
Senior Al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah was captured in a LeT safehouse in Faisalabad, Pakistan, in March 2002. Zubaydah was Osama bin Laden's chief of operations. He was responsible for training thousands of Islamic militants in Al-Qaeda training camps. He contacted Al-Qaeda cells in the field when an atttack was being planned.23 Obviously, important Al-Qaeda operatives were sometimes using safehouses belonging to Lashkar-e-Taiba.24 "Elite LeT cadres are also believed to have been responsible for Osama bin Laden's 'outer' cordon of personal security," write M.J. and Sajjan M. Gohel, two London based terrorism experts.25
LeT denies it has any links to Al-Qaeda, and there are indeed some differences. Yahya Mujahid, a spokesman for the group claimed that they do not agree with bin Laden's call to overthrow the rulers of Muslim countries. This is not very strange. Calling itself "Jama'at-ud-Dawa" LeT operates as a kind of charity helping Kashmiris in need. They have their own website (jamatuddawa.com). They receive vast amounts of money from Saudi Arabia and some Gulf States. Bin Laden is calling for the overthrow of the rulers of these very Muslim countries, so that call may very well be unwelcome to the JuD/LeT leadership.
Yet, it is alleged that LeT camps in the Pakistani part of Kashmir or "Azad (=free) Kashmir" are being used as "sanctuaries" for Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters who escaped U.S. and allied bombardment in Afghanistan.26 To escape being targeted by U.S. drones and Pakistan's own security forces in the tribal areas of Waziristan, some Al-Qaeda operatives and training facilities may have been transfered to Pakistani Kashmir where it is possible to hide safely in one of the Lashkar-e-Taiba training camps. In addition, LeT jihadists are fighting in the ranks of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Quite of a number of LeT jihadists were sent to Iraq, joining ranks there with Al-Qaeda and other jihadist groups.27
Jama'at-ud-Dawa is anything but a just charity. The organization runs a number of training camps where jihadists and militant Muslims are being trained. Although India has repeatedly requested the Pakistani government to shut down these camps and arrest the LeT leadership, some action by the Pakistani authorities was belatedly taken only after the Mumbai attacks. The two masterminds of the attacks, Muzammil and Lakhvi, were arested. Hafiz Muhammad Saeed is under house arrest. After the UN Security Council declared that Jama'at-ud-Dawa was a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba and subject to UN sanctions (freezing of its assets, travel ban on four of its leaders), Pakistan finally ordered the closure of this so-called charity.28
Amir Rana mentions five important Lashkar-e-Taibi jihadi camps:
1. Muaskar Taiba, located in Muzaffarabad, the capital of "Azad Kashmir" (capacity to train 500 mujahideen);
2. Muaskar Aqsa, also located close to Muzaffarabad (capacity to train 150 mujahideen);
3. Muaskar Ummul Qara, also in the vicinity of Muzaffarabad (500 men are trained here monthly now);
4. Muaskar Abdullah bin Masood, located in "Azad Kashmir" (300 men can train here at a time);
5. Markaz (Center) Mohammed bin Qasim, near Hyderabad, Sindh Province (also used as a Jama'at-ud-Dawa center). The building looks like a fort from the outside, there is no signboard on the gate, but the locals are aware it is a jihadi camp.29
Rana's list is not exhaustive. Azam Amir Kasab, the only surviving Mumbai terrorist, claimed he had been trained in LeT camps at Muzaffarabad, Mansera (Punjab Province), Muridke and Karachi. He claimed he had been trained by Zaki ur-Rehman Lakhvi, whom he described as "a Pakistani ex-soldier." The training took at least one year and was divided up into seven phases. "The first phase was of very hard physical training of three months which included running up to 10 to 15 km. The next three months were for marine training like swimming, surfing, diving and boating in high seas. The rest included arms and ammunition training." 30 Kasab probably also went to Mumbai to case targets as part of a reconnaissance operation and was possibly assisted by Indian locals.
By 2005, some 10,000 mujahideen had been trained in the camps mentioned by Rana.31 (The total number of trained LeT jihadists is much higher, though.) Apart from Pakistanis, there were Bosnians, British, Chechnyans, Eritreans, Philippinos, Somalis, North and sub-Saharan Africans, Australians Americans and Arabs.
Lashkar-e-Taiba and Pakistan's "Inter-Services Intelligence" (ISI)
One of the reasons why the Pakistani government was so often reluctant to effectively curtail Jama'at-ud-Dawa/Lashkar-e-Taiba activities is the obviously close link between this militant organization and Pakistan's "Inter-Services Intelligence" (ISI) which played an important role in creating LeT.
The ISI is a powerful body, possibly more powerful than the government itself. Even a military man like former president Pervez Musharraf was never able to really bring the ISI under full control. There are several factions within the ISI, there is a group which even sympathisizes with Al-Qaeda and bin Laden, possibly frustrating Pakistani military operations against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in the tribal areas.
On December 8, 2008, Pakistan raided a JuD/LeT camp near Muzaffarabad, arresting Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Zarar Shah, another high level LeT operative. The raid came three days after U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice met Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardawi and won an assurance that he would take "strong action" against those behind the Mumbai atrocity.32
An important article on this raid appeared in the "International Herald Tribune" of December 9, 2008. This article goes into the rather close relationship between LeT and ISI:
"Unlike Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants, who have been forced to retreat to mountain redoubts in western Pakistan's tribal areas, Lashkar commanders have been able to operate more or less in the open. They do so behind the public face of a popular charity, with the implicit support of official Pakistani patrons, U.S. officials said. (...) Indian officials said they believed that one senior Lashkar commander in particular, Zarar Shah, was one of the group's primary liaisons to the ISI. Investigators in India also are examining whether Shah, a communications specialist, helped plan and carry out the attacks in Mumbai. 'He is a central character in this plot,' one U.S. official said.
Although the government of Pakistan officially banned Lashkar in 2002, U.S. officials say that the group has maintained close ties to the Pakistani intelligence service even since that date. U.S. spy agencies have documented regular meetings between the ISI and Lashkar operatives in which the two organizations have shared intelligence about Indian operations in Kashmir. 'It goes beyond information sharing to include some funding and training,' said a U.S. official who follows the group closely. 'And these are not rogue elements. What is going on is done in a fairly disciplined way.'"33
There was no evidence, however, that the ISI itself was directly involved in the Mumbai plot, although individual ISI officers must have been aware of its extensive preparations. Ahmed Rashid, one of the most knowledgeable writers on militant Islamic groups in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia, is right when he says: "The ISI no longer controlled the monster of extremism it had created."34
After Al-Qaeda's September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, the ISI leadership chose to merely suppress the activities of those ISI members who did not support president Musharraf's new stance towards Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. They were not removed from office and continued to exert some influence.35
In July 2008 American intelligence agencies concluded that members of Pakistan's intelligence service helped plan the deadly July 7 bombing of India's embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, "The New York Times" revealed on August 1, 2008. The Americans had intercepted communications between Pakistani intelligence officers and militants who carried out the attack. The communications were intercepted before the July 7 bombing. The intercepts were not detailed enough to warn of any specific attack. American officials told The New York Times "that the ISI officers had not been renegades, indicating their actions might have been authorized by superiors."
After the attack a top CIA official traveled to Pakistan to confront senior Pakistani officials with information about support to militant groups provided by members of the ISI. During a Washington visit of Pakistani prime minister Yousef Raza Gilani, President George Bush asked senior Pakistani officials: "Who is in control of the ISI?"36
Pakistan is highly frustrated about the warm relations between India and Afghanistan. Part of Pakistan's establishment still sees Afghanistan as a kind of backyard. A non-Muslim country like India should not interfere with "legitimate" Pakistani aspirations concerning this militarily weak neigboring country.
Lashkar-e-Taiba networks in the United Kingdom: fundraising and recruiting for terrorism
Pakistani and other Muslim immigrant communities in Europe, Australia and North America have been successfully targeted and penetrated by Pakistani terrorist organizations. This effort has been particularly successful in the United Kingdom (UK) where the Pakistani community is very big. Most of these Pakistani immigrants in Britain are from the province of Punjab and Kashmir, traditional strongholds of militant groups. In the city of Birmingham, for example, the Pakistani community numbered over 104,000 in 2001 and more than half of the men are unemployed. The number of Pakistanis residing in London is 240,000. "Muslims in Britain have been one of the largest donors to the Pakistani Islamic institutions and Muslim militant groups, some of whom had been declared terrorists and outlawed by Pakistan's military government," writes Zahid Hussain in his study "Frontline Pakistan."37
The International Crisis Group (ICG) reported in July 2002 that huge sums of money are collected each year in British mosques and that it has become difficult to separate finances for terror from those for charity:
"UK-based charities has become a euphemism for the financiers and supporters of Islamic groups from Britain. Some also collect zakat (=a kind of Islamic charity tax, V.) for Madrassas (=Koranic schools, V.) and their students. Since the Afghani jihad years, the diversion of funds for educational and humanitarian activities has been normal practice. It has, therefore, become difficult to separate finances for terror from those for charity. For example, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed collect as much as 5 million pounds (US $ 7.4 million) each year in British mosques in the name of Islam. Although both groups are banned in Britain as well as Pakistan, the Kashmiri diaspora – around one million strong in Britain – continues to provide these donations. Transfering these funds through either formal or informal channels is no problem since the networks established during the jihad are still in place. A common mode of transfer is through commodities, including precious metals, jewellery and gems, instead of currency transactions."38
Jama'at-ud-Dawa presents itself as a charity although it is just another name for Lashkar-e-Taiba. (JuD founder and leader Hafiz Muhammad Saeed is also the founder of LeT.) The 2005 earthquake in Kashmir destroyed some of the infrastructure of the militant jihadi groups, but they quickly managed to recover from the damage taking advantage of the humanitarian situation. Charity front organizations collected huge amounts of money, part of which was transfered to the armed struggle. Not all the money, though, because these organizations – like Hamas and Hezbollah – also run hospitals and schools.
A relatively high number of British Muslims received training in jihad camps run by Lashkar-e-Taiba or Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). Some of them are involved in fundraising. In March 2006 a British Pakistani named Mohammed Ajmal Khan was sentenced to nine years for fundraising on behalf of local terror groups in Pakistan. He admitted he had previously attended a training camp run by LeT. The judge described Khan as "a terrorist quartermaster for LeT."39
Other radicalized British Pakistanis were involved in terrorist attacks. Two of the 7/7 London suicide bombers, Mohammed Siddique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer, were probably trained in a JeM or LeT camp.40
Mohammed Siddique Khan was in touch with both Al-Qaeda and U.S. citizens. As early as February 2003, some intelligence officials referred to him as "a bad guy from England."41 The terrorist atttacks in London on July 7, 2005, were probably a joint JeM and LeT operation ¬– with the full backing of the Al-Qaeda leadership. Khan, an innocent looking "learning mentor" with the children of immigrant families in Leeds, was the leader the terrorist cell who committed the attacks.
Another JeM terrorist with British nationality was Rashid Rauf. Rauf was killed on Friday November 21, 2008, by a U.S. drone flying over Pakistan's tribal areas. Rauf was married to a sister-in-law of JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar. Rauf is also one of the alleged ringleaders of a foiled 2006 plot to blow up U.S. bound planes leaving British airports.42 Rauf, a Birmingham baker's boy whose family emigrated from Kashmir to Britain, eventually joined the ranks of Jaish-e-Mohammed and Al-Qaeda. A former Pakistani Interior Minister described Rauf as "an Al-Qaeda operative with linkages in Afghanistan."43
Lashkar-e-Taiba networks in the United States and Australia
On September 16, 2001, five days after "9/11," a man named Ali Al-Timimi, a native U.S. citizen and a self-professed Islamic scholar, came to the house of Young Kwon in Fairfax, Virginia, to speak about the events of 9/11 to a group of Muslim men. He told them that this gathering was secret and said that the 9/11 attacks "were justified" and that "the end time battle had begun." The best option would be to answer the call of Mullah Omar, the leader of the Taliban, to fight against American troops who were expected in invade Afghanistan in pursuit of Al-Qaeda.44 In other words, Al-Timimi told these seven men "to go abroad and join the mujahideen engaged in violent jihad in Afghanistan." He advised them to obtain "military-style training from Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan in order to join the mujahideen expected to engage in violent jihad against American troops in Afghanistan." The group did subsequently travel to the Lashkar-e-Taiba's Ibn Masood camp near Muzaffarabad in Pakistani Kashmir where they learnt how to fire kalashnikovs, antiaircraft guns and rocket propelled grenades, among other things.45
Ali Al-Timimi, the leader of the so-called "Virginia jihad network" and described as enjoying "rock star" status among his followers in Virginia, was sentenced to life in prison in April and July 2005. He had exhorted his followers to join the Taliban and fight U.S. troops. "By his treasonous criminal acts, he has proven himself to be a kingpin of hate against America, U.S. Attorney Paul McNulty said in a statement. "He not only wanted Americans to die, he recruited others to his cause at a time when our coutry was mourning the loss of more than 3,000 people who were murdered in a heinous act of terrorism."46
Reading from the Preamble of the Constitution, Al-Timimi claimed his right to free speech had been trampled on. In an article on "Preaching Terror: Free Speech or Wartime Incitement?" published in the "American University Law Review," Robert S. Tanenbaum makes the following interesting observation:
"His homily was ironic, considering Al-Timimi's disdain for his home country, the 'greatest enemy.' Al-Timimi wishes to destroy America by wrapping his vitriol in the cloak of the Constitution. Al-Timimi is allowed to hate the United States. But he is not allowed to sollicit treason. Like him, preachers who advocate in detail and in privacy the violation of law should not find a free haven in America."47
Al-Timimi's lawyers, though, don't know how to stop. They now accuse government agencies of having illegally tapped Al-Timimi's communications in an eavesdropping operation. They claim that the eavesdropping operation was conceiled during the 2005 trial. A U.S. congressional oversight panel now even plans to ask the National Security Agency (NSA) to start an investigation into this matter.48
These lawyers do not dispute the facts, they just criticize an alleged NSA wiretapping operation. However, it should be emphasized that the facts presented in court are sufficiently disconcerting to warrant a condemnation.
In November 2008 five Muslim men were accused of conspiring to carry out a terrorist attack in Australia. Police claimed a large scale terrorist attack had been foiled. One of the suspects, Mustafa Cheiko, is believed to have trained with the Lashkar-e-Taiba group in 2001.49
Cheiko is also an assocate of French national Willie Virgile Brigitte who was deported from Australia in 2003. Brigitte had been sent to Australia by LeT and planned to attack a military base in Sydney as well as Sydney's Lucas Hights nuclear reactor.50 Brigitte's key contact in Australia was a Pakistani man named Abu Hamza who was the leader of a local LeT terror cell. Brigitte had previously been trained in a LeT training camp in Pakistan. His Pakistani handler was Sajjid Mir, a mid- to senior ranking member of LeT. It was Sajjid Mir who sent Brigitte to Australia.51 Brigitte, a French convert to Islam who was born in Guadeloupe, was also known as "Abdurrahman of the Antilles." He was first contacted by recruiters from Al-Qaeda in radical mosques in the Parisian suburbs or banlieus.52
A French court sentenced Brigitte in March 2007 to a nine-year prison sentence for plotting to blow up a Sydney nuclear reactor and acting as "a coordinator for LeT operatives passing through France."53
Militant Kashmiri and "Tablighi" networks in the Netherlands
In December 2001 Khalid el Hasnaoui and Ahmed el Bakiouli, two Dutch men of Moroccan origin, traveled to the Indian part of Kashmir ("Jammu and Kashmir"). They stayed in the hotelboat "Happy New Year" in Srinagar, the capital. It was three to four months after 9/11, Al-Qaeda's spectacular attack on America. It was rather strange to travel to Kashmir at this time of the year. It was winter and winters in Kashmir are bitterly cold. There were hardly any tourists – certainly not from Holland. Khalid and Ahmed had tourist visas from the Indian embassy in The Hague. What the Indian embassy did not know at the time was that these two visa applicants were radicalized young Muslims and frequent visitors of the extremist Al-Fourqaan Mosque in the southern city of Eindhoven, a place where young Muslims were recruited for the jihad.
On January 13, 2002, Khalid and Ahmed got up early. They left their passports in their room – also quite unusual. (In a place like Srinagar security forces and the police often want to check the identity of foreigners who are supposed to carry their passports with them.) But Khalid and Ahmed did take long knives with them. They reportedly provoked a violent confrontation with the Indian Border Security Forces (BSF), attacking them with their knives. (Two of the BSE soldiers would later show their wounds to Dutch journalist Arnold Karskens as he visited the hospital in Srinagar.) The other BSE soldiers subsequently shot the two young men from Holland dead.
It was a big story in Holland. Khalid and Ahmed were quickly revered as "martyrs" by militant Dutch muslims. "Khalid and Ahmed are heroes," one of the militants wrote. "They accepted to travel with a view to waging jihad. They are not afraid to die on the battlefield."54
An investigation by the Dutch "General Security and Intelligence Service" (AIVD) revealed that Khalid and Ahmed "had been recruited in the Netherlands by radical Muslims and that they had been spiritually prepared to participate in the violent jihad," an AIVD report said. "This was a probing sign that also Muslims of the second generation who were raised in the Netherlands are responsive to radical Islamic opinions and manipulation."55
The two young men from Eindhoven also received sufficient money enabling them to travel to Kashmir, another AIVD report said. "It was their aspiration to participate in the battle on the Islamic front and achieve the highest goal of martyrdom."56
Who was the man who recruited Khalid and Ahmed? They were probably recruited by a terrorist recruiter operating in the city of Eindhoven, a man who also frequented the Al-Fourqaan Mosque. Their recruiter was problably linked radical Kashmiri groups, Al-Qaeda or another jihadist network.
Three and a half years later, in the summer of 2005, two Dutch members of the Hofstad Group, a Dutch terrorist network, traveled to training camps in Pakistan. They were Jason Walters (a Dutchman whose father was an American) and Ismail Akhnikh, a Dutch-Moroccan. Jason Walters later claimed his trip to Pakistan had been arranged by Saleh Bouali and Samir Azzouz. Azzouz, a Dutch-Moroccan, was another prominent member of the Hofstad Group. He had previously tried to join the jihad in Chechnya but was stopped near the Russian border by the Ukranian border police. Jason said that Saleh Bouali had previously also visited a Pakistani training camp. Saleh was the one who bought the tickets for Jason. Samir would later claim that Saleh's camp was near the Kashmiri border and that it was not the same camp where Jason stayed. "Saleh knows Tabligh, he told us about Tabligh," Jason said.57
Bouali later said: "Tabligh is an organization in Pakistan. There are conferences in Lahore, it is a large group of two to three million people who have spread out over the whole world."58 Bouali confirmed that they are also active in the Netherlands.
"Tablighi Jama'at" (TJ), a fundamentalist missionary Muslim organization, is active in Britain and some continental European countries (Germany, Holland, Spain, France, etc.). It was originally founded in former British India in 1924 by a man named Maulana Muhammad Ilyas Khandalawi. Although the movement claims to espouse a policy of non-violence, there have been quite a number of cases of terrorist networks which used Tablighi Jama'at infrastructure for the purpose of travelling. Jihadist organizations were also involved in recruiting TJ members.59
"We have a significant presence of Tablighi Jama'at in the United States," the deputy chief of the FBI's international terrorism section said in 2003. "We have found out that Al-Qaeda used them for recruiting now and in the past."60
"Eighty percent of the Islamist extremists in France come from the Tablighi ranks," writes Alex Alexiev in "The Middle East Quaterly" (Winter 2005, see footnote 60). A Pakistani website commented that Tablighi Jama'at's organizational structures can be easily adopted to jihad activities. "There is also evidence that Tablighi Jama'at directly recruits for terrorist organizations. (...) In 1999 Uzbek authorities accused Tablighi Jama'at of sending 400 Uzbeks to terrorist training camps.61
Shehzad Tanweer, one of the London 7/7 suicide bombers, worked with Tablighi Jama'at when he visited Pakistan in 2002. He was subsequently recruited by Lashkar-e-Taiba and/or Jaish-e-Mohammed. He is believed to have spent as long as four months at the LeT headquarters in Muridke (near Lahore), a Pakistani city through which LeT facilitated the movement of Al-Qaeda cadres to and from Afghanistan.62
It is not so strange, therefore, that Jason Walters traveled to Pakistan after he had met Saleh Bouali who was familiar with Tablighi Jama'at. After his arrival in Pakistan in August 2003 Jason went to a training camp possibly run by Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). He spent about four weeks in this camp. Walters later claimed in court that he had not been in a camp, but in a Madrassa (Koranic school). However, Pakistani Madrassas are breeding grounds for extremists and terrorists. (This is where the Taliban originated.) Moreover, some Madrassas are training camps as well. Jaish-Mohammed's "Military Department" runs four training camps the largest of which is "Madrassa Syed Ahmed Shaheed in Balakot."63 Jason could very well have been in this camp.
After he returned to the Netherlands Walters chatted on the Internet with friends praising Maulana Masood Azhar, the "emir" (=leader) of Jaish-e-Mohammed: "Azhar is the most wanted man in Pakistan after bin Laden and Mullah Omar. I could have met him, but it did not work out, unfortunately. Next time I'll have a better chance to meet him."64 In another Internet chat Jason mentioned the kind of training he received: throwing grenades, firing kalashnikovs and praying with a kalashnikov between his legs.65 When one of the judges asked Jason later if he had ever heard about an organization called Lashkar-e-Taiba, he replied he had not.66
There are similarities between the terrorists who attacked the peaceful city of Mumbai on November 26, 2008 killing Indian, British and American citizens as well as Jews and those young men who during World War II decided to join the Nazi "Einsatzgruppen" (operational groups). The fanatic young members of the "Einsatzgruppen" were also ruthless killers who randomly killed Jews and other "racially inferior" human beings (Poles, Russians, etc.).67 What was for the Nazis a racial issue then, is a religious issue for the jihadists of today. The "inferior humans" to be killed now are the so-called non-believers (Indian Hindus or Buddhists, Americans, British, etc.) and, of course, once again the Jews.
Exactly like Al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba today embraces a concept of global jihad. They even seek to liberate Spain and enjoy a lot of support in Britain. Muslims from Europe, Australia and the USA have visited LeT training camps in Pakistan.
What the leadership of the Pakistani army must realize is that the jihadists represent a clear and present danger to the security and stability of the Pakistani nation – much more than India does. And security is the army's core business. We are talking here about "religious fanatics hijacking religious values to serve their own violent interests."68 The grenades used by the Mumbai terrorists originated from Pakistani military manufacturers (Pakistan Ordnance Factories, POF). The Mumbai terrorists' explosives were from the same factory as those used in the attacks on the Indian Parliamant (December 2001) and the Indian embassy in Kabul (July 2008).69 This points to possible complicity of Pakistani military authorities and/or members of the ISI.
A new ISI chief was appointed in September 2008. Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, "a known moderate who spent the past three years leading scorched-earth offensives against extremists as head of the Army's military-ops command," commented Ron Moreau and Zahid Hussain in the European edition of "Newsweek." 70 They quoted retired Pakistani Lt. Gen. Talat Masood who said that Pasha is ideologically "totally against" jihadists like Lashkar-e-Taiba. Maybe so. Let us hope then that this new ISI chief will act occordingly. But Moreau and Hussain do caution us that "Pasha must also root out sympathizers in his own organization, which has historical ties to LeT and has been suspected of covertly supporting the extremists."
It is high time that Pakistan declares war on the extremists, otherwise these fanatics will sooner or later provoke India to military intervention against Pakistan – a war that Pakistan cannot possibly win. Nor can India should Pakistan decide to throw nuclear bombs on Indian cities. This kind of "Armageddon" must be avoided at all cost. It is in the interest of both India and Pakistan to cooperate in the fight against the common enemy of extremism. This is a global conflict against evil and satanic fanatics and lunatics who adore death and destruction. They are people from hell creating hell on earth.
The moderates in both India and Pakistan must learn to join ranks, now more than ever. Their very survival is at stake.
Emerson Vermaat is a Dutch investigative reporter specialized in terrorism and crime. Website: www.emersonvermaat.com
1. M.J. Gohel and Sajjan M. Gohel, The Mumbai Terror Siege Attacks, AFP Analysis – India, December 4, 2004, p. 6.
2. Ibid., p. 6.
3. Ibid., p. 6, 7. The author saw several TV news reports which referred to satellite and cell phone communications between the terrorists and the LeT operational planners in Pakistan. For example, in a CNN news report on November 29, 2008, about 19:05 hours Dutch time, it was said: "On that boat (the hijacked fishing trawler, V.) local authorities found cell phones with calls to several Pakistani cities and towns."
4. Der Spiegel (Germany), December 1, 2008, p. 125 ("Im Dreieck des Todes").
5. Kasav reveals Mumbai terror plot, The Times of India (video), http://broadband.indiatimes.com/toivideolist/3785806.cms (end of November 2008).
6. CNN.com, December 9, 2008 ("India identifies Mumbai attackers").
7. The Times of India, December 3, 2008 ("We were reassured of escape after the attack: Kasab").
8. Muhammad Amir Rana, A to Z of Jihadi Organizations in Pakistan (Lahore: Mashal Books, 2005), p. 328. Foreword by Amir Mir.
9. Ibid., p. 329.
10. Ibid., p. 331, 332.
11. Rediff.com, December 13, 2002 ("Terrorists attack Parliament; five intruders, six cops killed").
12. Rediff.com, December 14, 2001 ("Parliament attack: Advani points towards neighbouring country").
13. Chinadaily.com, August 31, 2003 ("Indian police: Parliament attack mastermind killed").
14.The Times of India, December 3, 2008 ("We were reassured of escape after the attack" Kasab").
15. Muhammad Amir Rana, op. cit., p. 332.
16. CNN.com, December 2, 2008 ("Nanny credited with tot's daring rescue").
17. The Times (London), December 2, 2008, p. 18 ("Psychotic terrorists in search of a grievance").
18. The Times of India, November 30, 2008 ("Mumbai locals helped us, terrorist tells cops").
19. Ahmed Rashid, Descend into Chaos. The United States and the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia (New York: Viking Penguin, 2008), p. 228.
20. Zahid Hussain, Frontline Pakistan. The Struggle with Militant Islam (New York: Colombia University Press, 2007), p. 58.
21. Muhammed Amir Rana, op. cit., p. 137.
22. Ibid., p. 137, 138.
23. Zahid Hussain, op. cit., p. 127.
24. Country Reports on Terrorism 2004 (Washington: United States Department of State, April 2005), p. 103 (print edition).
25. M.J. Gohel and Sajjan M. Gohel, op. cit., p. 10.
27. The Hindu (India), June 13, 2004, p. 1 ("Lashkar raising Islamist brigades for Iraq"). With a color photo showing LeT leader Hafiz Muhammad Saeed.
28. International Herald Tribune, December 12, 2008, p. 5 ("India pushes Pakistan to do more on terrorism, but avoids criticism"); CBC News, December 11, 2008 ("Pakistan clamps down on charity linked to Mumbai attacks"); Los Angeles Times, December 12, 2008 ("Pakistan clamps down on group linked to Lashkar").
29. Muhammad Amir Rana, op. cit., p. 332, 333.
30. The Times of India, December 1, 2008 ("Ex-soldier trained terrorist, says Kasab").
31. Muhammad Amir Rana, op. cit., p. 333.
32. The Times (London), December 9, 2008, p. 6 ("'Mastermind of Mumbai' is arrested in raid on Kashmir militant training camp").
33. International Herald Tribune, December 9, 2008, p. 8 ("Pakistan raids camp used by terror group").
34. Ahmed Rashid, op. cit., p. 232.
35. Inter-Services Intelligence (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inter-Services_Intelligence).
36. The New York Times, August 1, 2008 ("Pakistanis aided attack in Kabul, U.S. officials say").
37. Zahid Hussain, op. cit., p. 86.
38. Pakistan: Madrassas, Extremism and the Military, ICG Asian Report No. 36, July 29, 2002), p. 16.
39. Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank, Kashmir on the Thames. London Broil, in: Law and Security, April 9, 2006 (New York University School of Law).
40. The Daily Telegraph (London), July 19, 2005, p. 4 ("Suicide bombers flew to Pakistan together"); The New York Times, July 26, 2005, p. 6 ("Two militants place suspect at camp in Pakistan").
41. Ron Suskind, The One Percent Doctrine. Deep Inside America's Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006), p. 200, 201.
42. Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank, op. cit.; Lashkar-e-Taiba was probably also involved in this plot. See Dawn (Pakistan) August 12, 2006, and The Hindu (India) August 13, 2006 ("Pakistani connection to London plot").
43. The Guardian, November 22, 2008 (Rashid Rauf: The mysterious adult life of a Birmingham baker's boy turned alleged Al-Qaeda terrorist").
44. Robert S. Tanenbaum, Preaching Terror: Free Speech or Wartime Incitement?, in: American University Law Review, February 23, 2006 (Vol. 55), p. 786.
45. United States v. Ali Al-Timimi, The United States District Court for the Eastern-District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, Superseding Indictment, February 2005 Term – At Alexandria, p. 5-8.
46. Matthew Barakat, Muslim man convicted of urging holy war, Associated Press, April 26, 2005; Militant Islam Monitor, April 26, 2006 ("Ali Al Timimi: American born Jihad recruiter convicted of urging holy war"); Robert S. Tanenbaum, op. cit., p. 787.
47. Robert S. Tanenbaum, op. cit., p. 819.
48. International Herald Tribune, December 9, 2008, p. 5 ("Congressional panel seeks inquiry into spying on Muslim scholar").
49. TheAge.com.au, November 12, 2008 (Nervous nation, trying times").
50. M.J. Gohel and Sajjid M. Gohel, op. cit., p. 12; various press reports.
51. Sarah Ferguson, The French Connection, in: Sundaymsn.com.au, February 8, 2004.
52. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/willie_Brigitte; http//fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willie_Brigitte.
53. Militant Islam Monitor, March 24, 2007 ("French Muslim convert Willie Brigitte gets 9 years for Al-Qaeda plot to blow up Sydney nuclear reactor"). Based on two Australian news reports: ABC, March 16, 2008, and Sunday Telegraph, Australia, March 17, 2008.
54. Emerson Vermaat, De Dodelijke Planning van Al-Qaida (Soesterberg: Uitgeverij Aspekt, 2005), p. 44-47.
55. General Security and Intelligence Service (AIVD), Recruitment for the Jihad in the Netherlands (Leidschendam: AIVD, December, 2002), p. 5.
56. Algemene Inlichtingen- en Veiligheidsdienst (AIVD), Jaarverslag 2001 (Leidschendam: AIVD, May 2002), p. 17.
57. Emerson Vermaat, Nederlandse Jihad. Het Proces tegen de Hofstadgroep Soesterberg: Uitgeverij Aspekt, 2006), p. 33, 131, 132. This study of 408 pages is a detailed account of the
Hofstad Group Trial in Amsterdam-Osdorp (2005, 2006).
58. Ibid., p. 64.
59. Bundesamt für Verfasssungsschutz (BfV), Verfassungsschutzbericht 2007 (Cologne BfV: 2008), p. 236.
60. Alex Alexiev, Tablighi Jamaat: Jihad's Stealthy Legions, in: The Middle East Quaterly, Winter 2005 (Vol. XII, No. 1), Internet version. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegations_that_Tablighi_has_ties_to_terrorism; B. Rahman, Al-Qaeda takes root in the U.S., in: Online Asia Times, July 3, 2003.
62. M.J. Gohel and Sajjan M. Gohel, op. cit., p.11.
63. Muhammad Amir Rana, op. cit., p. 225, 226.
64. Emerson Vermaat, Nederlandse Jihad. Het Proces tegen de Hofstadgroep, op. cit., p. 133, 134, 274, 275.
65. Ibid., p. 37, 39.
66. Ibid., p. 39.
67. Helmut Krausnick and Hans-Heinrich Wilhelm, Die Truppe des Weltanschuungskrieges. Die Einsatzgruppen der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1981), p. 47, 53, 54 ("Massenerschiessungen, insbesondere von Juden" – in Nazi occupied Poland in 1939), p. 61 (killing 400 Polish hostages), p. 63 (Heydrich's secret order in September 1939 to kill all members of the Polish elite, the so-called "Liquidierungsbefehl für zahlreiche polnische Führungskreise," September 1939), p. 64-66.
68. Benazir Bhutto, Reconciliation. Islam, Democracy and the West (London/New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008), p. 29.
69. Der Spiegel (Germany). December 8, 2008, p. 130 ("Sudasien: 'Wir wollen Krieg'").
70. Ron Moreau and Zahid Hussain, Mumbai Aftermath: Spy in the Spotlight, in: Newsweek (European edition), December 15, 2008, p. 5.
This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/3758