- Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) is a Pakistani-based Islamic extremist group founded in the late 1980s as the terrorist wing of Markaz ud Dawa ul-Irshad, a Pakistan-based Islamic fundamentalist mission organization, according the US State Department. LeT aims to attack and expel the Indian government and people from Kashmir—a state in northern India with a large Muslim population that borders Pakistan—to establish a caliphate in South Asia. The group has training camps, medical clinics, and schools in Pakistan.
- With an estimated several thousand members, LeT is one of the largest militant groups in South Asia and is capable of coordinating attacks in India, including the Mumbai commuter train bombings in 2006, which killed 209, and the Mumbai attacks in 2008, which resulted in 164 deaths and about 300 injuries.
- LeT views the United States, India, and Israel as existential enemies of Islam and has supported other terrorist organizations, including al-Qa’ida and the Taliban, that have targeted American and coalition forces in Afghanistan. In December 2001, the United States designated LeT as a foreign terrorist organization and, in 2002, Pakistan officially banned the organization.
Threat to New Jersey: Low
LeT poses a low threat to New Jersey because the group remains focused on local and regional issues, including its operations in Kashmir against the Indian government, reinforcing its presence throughout Pakistan, and fundraising.
- In 2015, LeT leader Hafiz Muhammad Saeed stated the group supports the Pakistani government and military and extended LeT assistance to liberate the Kashmiri people. In February 2016, LeT operatives targeted a military bus in Pampore Kashmir, killing three Indian army commanders. According to Western media reports, the US Intelligence Community has documented Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence and LeT operatives regularly sharing intelligence about India’s presence in Kashmir since 2008.
- In response to ISIS’s growing influence in the region, LeT has called for a global effort to confront the group, stating ISIS does not represent Islam and all Muslims. In 2015, in response to an ISIS propaganda publication, LeT released a statement saying ISIS, as an external group, has no role to play in Kashmir and Jammu and dismissed the organization as “a product of anti-Islamic Western countries.”
- Saeed operates humanitarian projects and fundraising under Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and other various aliases. LeT and its front organizations advertise openly in local media outlets and continually receive donations from Pakistanis. Internationally, the group receives funding from residents of the Gulf and Middle East states as well as Europe, specifically from the United Kingdom.
US Outreach and Aspirations
LeT has threatened the United States, but has not succeeded in conducting an attack domestically.
- In January 2013, Daood Sayed Gilani, a Pakistani-American from New York City, received a 35-year prison sentence for assisting in the Mumbai attacks in 2008. From 2002-05, Gilani traveled to Pakistan, where he received weapons, combat, and counter-surveillance training from LeT. Once trained, Gilani, who changed his name to David Coleman Headley, traveled to India and provided surveillance videos used to plot the attack to LeT planners.
- In November 2017, a Pakistani court released Saeed, the suspected mastermind behind the Mumbai attacks in 2008, from house arrest. The United States, which placed Saeed on the US terrorist designation list on May 27, 2008, has called for his re-arrest. He also carries a $10 million US bounty. Saeed heads JuD, an Islamic welfare organization founded in 2002, which the United States believes is a front for LeT activities.
- After September 11, 2001, LeT offered free training to Muslims who wanted to join Salafi-jihadist insurgencies to combat coalition forces in the region. In 2004, US authorities disrupted an LeT-supported network, arresting four American citizens in northern Virginia suspected of preparing to conduct attacks against the West and US military personnel in Afghanistan.