Following up on earlier posts here and here about Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), I've been looking closely at the arrest in Chicago on anti-terrorism charges of two men linked to LeT and accused of plotting attacks in Denmark.
Analysts say the Chicago case demonstrates the global reach of the militant group and its ability to plot attacks in India and around the world. The court documents submitted by U.S. authorities also allege that Lashkar-e-Taiba had suggested that attacks on India be given priority over the planned attack in Denmark, highlighting the threat still posed by the group one year after Mumbai.
As discussed in this factbox, analysts cite several reasons for Pakistan's reluctance to dismantle Lashkar-e-Taiba. These include its role in Kashmir and in India-Pakistan rivalry, and popular support for the humanitarian work of its Jamaat ud-Dawa sister organisation. They also cite an unwillingness to create a new enemy right now when Pakistan is already fighting the Pakistani Taliban in Waziristan and facing a wave of reprisal attacks in its cities. Lashkar-e-Taiba is the only Pakistani militant group which is not believed to have been involved in attacking targets within Pakistan itself.
None of that makes the group any less dangerous. But while researching the subject, I also found myself asking questions about the nature of the group and the kind of support it has -- beyond its alleged state backing. This is not to condone violence. But by failing to look at this support, particularly for Jamaat ud-Dawa's humanitarian work, are we perhaps missing at least part of the point?
The religious ideology of the Markaz ud-Dawa wal Irshad which gave birth to Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamaat ud-Dawa is Ahl-e-Hadith, a Salafist school of thought which seeks a return to what it sees as the "purer" practices of the early Muslims. This ideology originally sprang from a rejection of the corruption of religion by political power and of the syncretism which had thrived in South Asia through a blending of Hinduism and Islam, and which also underpinned the popularity of the Sufi tradition.