The New York Times first reported on LeT in December 2000, after the group attacked the 17th century Mughal fort (also known as the Red Fort), a major tourist attraction in India. In claiming responsibility for the attack, LeT cited the ongoing “guerrilla war” in Jamu and Kashmir, and further threatened it would continue targeting Indian assets until India disbands from the region.
LeT grabbed Western media attention again in November 2008, when the group executed a series of simultaneous attacks throughout Mumbai, India, over the course of three days, resulting in the murder of more than 166 people. Out of ten LeT perpetrators, only Ajmal Kasab survived. He was later tried in India and sentenced to death. Kasab was executed on November 21, 2002.
Today, ISIS’s violence in Iraq and Syria diverts mainstream Western media attention away from Islamist militant activity in India and Pakistan. LeT gets little Western media attention, except for the occasional headline highlighting the Pakistani government’s unwillingness or inability to rein the group in. The group also grabs headlines in relation to its continued freedom of movement despite extensive evidence that LeT was behind the Mumbai attacks. For example, in April 2015, Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi—one of LeT’s top leaders and the suspected mastermind behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks—was released from a Pakistani jail on bail.
Western media outlets sporadically provide in-depth profiles of or interviews with the group’s leadership, which can provide greater insight into LeT’s ideology and long-terms goals in Pakistan and beyond. New York Times journalist Declan Walsh, for example, has reported extensively in the region and on the group, including conducting interviews with LeT leader Hafiz Muhammad Saeed.
LeT may begin to get more attention in the coming years as its influence in Pakistan continues to grow. As Foreign Policy magazine highlighted recently, despite being banned in 2002, LeT has expanded its ambitions for an Islamic state beyond Pakistan, grown its membership, and expanded its outreach through social services in Pakistan. In January of 2015, for example, the militant group began providing ambulance services in Pakistan’s port city of Karachi.
In Their Own Words:
Many people do [believe] that it is a terrorist state, and who would possibly be a friend of Israel after you see the carnage that they carried out against Muslims in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and continue to do with the appropriation of properties? No one in their right and rational mind would support such a state [Israel].
Oct. 16, 2021