Global Politics

Mumbai attackers trained in Pakistan?

(How did you first encounter this group and who are they?) I was a foreign correspondent in India in the late 1980s when Lashkar-e-Taiba emerged as a factor in the insurgency in Kashmir. They are a Pakistani group based in Lahore and have evolved into a large organization. They run hospitals, schools and engage in paramilitary activities. Lashkar-e-Taiba was finally banned by Musharraf after it was implicated by the U.S. for involvement in a number of terrorist attacks, but Musharraf allowed it to continue as a charity under a different name where it still conducts legitimate operations. (If this group specifically targeted Americans, how does that change how Washington has to deal with Pakistan?) Lashkar-e-Taiba is already a banned foreign terrorist organization, but the U.S. could indict Lashkar-e-Taiba and its leaders for murder which could create all kinds of policy changes in Pakistan. The U.S. believes Lashkar-e-Taiba in all its forms should be subject to legal and financial pressure by the government of Pakistan, and the government hasn't taken those steps. (Why?) The Pakistani government would say this is an organization made up of thousands of dedicated, religious volunteers. Pakistan would say we don't want them to engage in terrorist activities, but we can't wipe them out entirely. The other point of view is that it's impossible to separate the two sides of Lashkar-e-Taiba so the whole organization needs to be taken down. (Is there reason to believe the Pakistani government when it said it had nothing to do with these attacks?) The civilian government had nothing to do with these attacks, but the trouble is the civilian government shares power with the army and intelligence services, which have a larger relationship with groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba. (Is there reason to believe that Lashkar-e-Taiba wanted to attack Americans and get Washington's attention?) I doubt they had a desire to bring the fury of Americans directly upon them, but I do think they wanted to create a distraction for the Pakistani army to leave the border areas.

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