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A Quick Backgrounder on Lashkar-e-Taiba

4:59 PM, Nov 30, 2008 • By BILL ROGGIO
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There is a lot of talk about Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group that is strongly suspected of being behind last week's terror assault in Mumbai, India. Below is a quick primer on Lashkar-e-Taiba I've excerpted from an update on the situation in Mumbai I wrote yesterday. There is far more to the terror group than this, but it should help explain the relationship between what is called "al Qaeda Central" and their affiliated groups. There are a lot of people out there twisting themselves in knots to disassociate  Lashkar-e-Taiba from al Qaeda. They are wrong to do so.

Lashkar-e-Taiba has an extensive network in southern and Southeast Asia. A senior US military intelligence official described the group as "al Qaeda junior," as it has vast resources, an extensive network, and is able to carry out complex attacks throughout its area of operations. "If by some stroke of luck al Qaeda collapsed, LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba) could step in and essentially take its place."The relationship between al Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Taiba is complex, the official noted. "While Lashkar-e-Taiba is definitely subordinate to al Qaeda in many ways, it runs its own network and has its own command structure. The groups often train in each others' camps, and fight side by side in Afghanistan."

Lashkar-e-Taiba forces fought alongside al Qaeda and Taliban in the assault on the US combat outpost in Wanat in Nuristan province, Afghanistan in July of this year. Nine US troops were killed, and 15 US soldiers and four Afghan troops were wounded in the heavy fight that nearly ended in the outpost being overrun. US forces ultimately broke the attack.Founded by Hafiz Mohammed Saeed in Afghanistan in 1990, the organization quickly expanded its reach.

The Lashkar-e-Taiba has received direct support by Pakistan's notorious Inter-Service Intelligence agency as they serve to destabilize India and wage war in Indian-occupied Kashmir.Like al Qaeda, the Lashkar-e-Taiba seeks to establish a Muslim caliphate in southern and central Asia. Lashkar-e-Taiba "consistently advocated the use of force and vowed that it would plant the 'flag of Islam' in Washington, Tel Aviv and New Delhi," the Southeast Asia Terrorism Portal reported.

Also, like al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba practices Wahabism, the radical Islamist school of thought born in Saudi Arabia.The group essentially runs a state within a state of Pakistan. The sprawling Muridke complex houses "a Madrassa (seminary), a hospital, a market, a large residential area for ‘scholars' and faculty members, a fish farm and agricultural tracts. The LeT also reportedly operates 16 Islamic institutions, 135 secondary schools, an ambulance service, mobile clinics, blood banks and several seminaries across Pakistan."