Analyst: Pakistani Group Behind Mumbai Attacks

Daniel Markey's research and analysis centers on  India, Pakistan and South Asia.

hide captionDaniel Markey's research and analysis centers on India, Pakistan and South Asia.

Council on Foreign Relations

A radical Islamic group from Pakistan has emerged as the prime suspect in last week's deadly attacks in Mumbai, India. The group known as Lashkar-e-Taiba — or Army of the Righteous — was thought to have mainly local ambitions, but it shares the jihadi philosophy of al-Qaida.

And it's been blamed for attacks outside Pakistan before.

Daniel Markey, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, tells Renee Montagne that the group "has been traditionally focused on the Kashmir struggle, but its ideology is more globally oriented even than that."

Lashkar-e-Taiba "shares an ideology with the most extreme versions of Wahhabi Islam followers, including al-Qaida — anti-Western, anti-Indian, anti-Jewish," says Markey, who was formerly a policy expert for the State Department.

Asked about the group's history with Pakistan's security forces, Markey confirms a connection. He says parts of Pakistan's government "have seen these militant groups as useful tools" for influencing conditions in Afghanistan, Kashmir and India.

"It's only in the past several years," Markey says, that "top leaders within Pakistan are starting to see them as having gotten out of control, as looking more like Frankenstein monsters" that occasionally move against Pakistan.

Officially, Lashkar-e-Taiba has been banned by Pakistan. But the group also plays humanitarian and political roles within the country, Markey says. That branch of the group, called Jamat-ud-Dawa, is involved with helping to run schools and hospitals.

As a result, he says, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamat-ud-Dawa enjoy popular support among the Pakistani public, who see them as social groups.

The only surviving Mumbai attacker has told police that all 10 gunmen had trained for months in Lashkar-e-Taiba camps in Pakistan. Both Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamat-ud-Dawa have denied any role in the attacks on Mumbai.

But Markey says he doesn't believe the denials, which he calls "a self-preservation move, to keep a certain question within the Pakistani society about who's really responsible for these things."

"I think it looks pretty clear that Lashkar-e-Taiba fingerprints are on this one, at least right now," Markey says. "And I'd be surprised if it doesn't increasingly look that way as time goes on."

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