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Backgrounder: Profile: Lashkar-e-Taiba (Army of the Pure) (a.k.a Lashkar e-Tayyiba, Lashkar e-Toiba; Lashkar-i-Taiba)

Council on Foreign Relations

Author: Jayshree Bajoria, Staff Writer

December 2, 2008


The Indian government has often accused the group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) of terrorist attacks, including the November 2008 deadly assault in Mumbai that killed nearly two hundred people and injured more than three hundred. LeT is among several banned Pakistani militant groups that experts say received backing from Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI, to fight in Indian-administered Kashmir. Analysts say the group continues to operate freely inside Pakistan under a different name and has now become a global terrorist organization.

Origins of a Movement

Lashkar-e-Taiba, meaning "army of the pure" has been active since 1993. It is the military wing of the well-funded Pakistani Islamist organization Markaz-ad-Dawa-wal-Irshad, which was founded in 1989 and recruited volunteers to fight alongside the Taliban. During the 1990s, experts say LeT received instruction and funding from Pakistan's intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), in exchange for a pledge to target Hindus in Jammu and Kashmir and to train Muslim extremists on Indian soil. Pakistan's government has repeatedly denied allegations of supporting terrorism.

Until it was banned in Pakistan in 2002, LeT claimed responsibility for numerous attacks, including an attack on the army barracks at Delhi's Red Fort in 2000, killing three people; a January 2001 attack on Srinagar airport that killed five Indians; and an attack in April 2002 against Indian border security forces that left at least four dead. But after being outlawed, it has not admitted to attacks. It denied responsibility for the November 2008 attack in Mumbai, the July 2006 attack on the Mumbai commuter rail, and the 2001 attack on the Indian parliament, despite the Indian government's allegations.

According to South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), a terrorism database on the region, LeT's professed ideology goes beyond merely challenging India's sovereignty over the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

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Copyright 2008 by the Council on Foreign Relations. This material is republished on with specific permission from the Reprint and republication queries for this article should be directed to

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