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Volume 1, No. 8 - January 2002

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Literally meaning "Army of the Pure", the Lashkar-e-Toiba has proved to be the most brutal terrorist group presently active in Jammu and Kashmir. The outfit is the terrorist arm of the Markaz Dawa-Wal-Irshad, an Islamic fundamentalist organization. It rose to prominence in ISI after 1997 (Nawaz Sharief's second term as Prime Minister of Pakistan). After the Kargil fiasco, the outfit has initiated a strategy of 'suicide attacks' where small groups of fidayeen (suicide squads) would storm a security force camp and kill as many personnel as possible. The outfit is reported to have changed its name to Pasban-i-Ahle Hadith following their inclusion in the US state department's Foreign Terrorist Organization list.

Ideology: An Islamic fundamentalist organization of the Wahabi sects in Pakistan, it's avowed mission is to destroy India and establish Islamic rule all over it.

Head: Hafiz Saeed/Mohammed Latif

Launch and Evolution: Lashkar-e-Toiba was launched during the last days of Afghan resistance against Soviet occupation. Though Lashkar-e-Toiba's entry into Jammu and Kashmir was first recorded in 1993, it came into the picture of Kashmir militancy only in 1997. It's induction to Kashmir is believed to be the result of deteriorating Harkat-ISI relations.

The pan-Islamic militancy was introduced in Kashmir to infuse a fresh lease of life into the otherwise dwindling local militancy. And the best choice available then was Harkat-ul-Mujahideen - the militant wing of Moulana Fazlul Rehman Khalil's Jamiat-e-Ulemai Islam, Pakistan. The group was powerful and had a huge network of madarsas which it ran across the Pak-Afghan border. The group, however, became extremely powerful after its Talibs (students) took over Afghanistan. In fact, ISI soon realised that it was difficult to handle Khalil who enjoyed substantial clout in Pakistan's electoral politics and this is how the focus shifted to Lashkar.

This Lahore-based group is the militant wing of a purely religious group - Markaz dawah-ul-Irshad led by Prof Hafiz Mohammad Sayeed and had absolutely no stakes in Pakistan's domestic politics.

Lashkar's militant activities soon outshined Harkat. The group would first use local Kashmiri militants only as helpers and guides and would keep both the armed operations as well as leadership with non-local cadre generally Punjabis from Pakistan. Today the outfit is the largest group active in the Valley with a dedicated Fidayeen unit suicide squad that changed the landscape of militancy in Kashmir.

"It seems Pakistan establishment too wants to keep Lashkar out of any US wrath. Lashkar enjoys excellent ties with the Pakistan military regime and thus as good guys they are listening to them.'' says a senior intelligence officer.

Sponsors: "Groups like Lashkar and Jaish generally run on donations from rich Gulf and Saudis or on Pak Government's support,'' says an officer, who had investigated the cross-border funding to militants in Kashmir. ``The militant groups generally get the guns and other arms and ammunition from the Government sources across the border.

They don't need to purchase it at all from open market. And they manage funds locally also. It is either consensual donations or extortion from local businessmen or ransoms. This is apart from hawala channels which are also very difficult to seal because of their complex nature''.

Areas of operation: Srinagar Valley and the districts of Poonch, Rajouri and Doda. The outfit also runs training camps at Kotli, Sialkot and Samani in PoK.

Operation base: Muridke

Major attacks: Held responsible for the series of massacres on August 1-2, 2000, which spread over three districts of J&K led to the killing of more than 100 persons within a gap of 24 hours. Most of the victims were unarmed civilians.

Indian Express

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