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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Shortly after the shots first rang out in Mumbai, India pointed to its neighbor Pakistan as the source of the attacks. Indian officials are now offering what they say is the evidence - among other things that the boat carrying the attackers came from Karachi and that cell phone calls were exchanged between the countries. And India says it knows the group responsible, Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Army of the Righteous. For years that group has been fighting Indian forces in Kashmir, a region that both Pakistan and India claim. For more on the group, we turn to Dan Markey who spent years tracking South Asia for the State Department. Welcome to the program.

Dr. DANIEL MARKEY (Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations): Thanks. Good to be here.

MONTAGNE: Who or what is Lashkar-e-Taiba?

Dr. MARKEY: Well, Lashkar-e-Taiba is a group that has been traditionally focused on the Kashmir struggle, but its ideology is more globally oriented. It is certainly a group that shares an ideology with the most extreme versions of Islam followers, including al-Qaeda.

MONTAGNE: Now, I understand that it - as other jihadists or Islamic fundamentalists groups - has a history with Pakistan's security services.

Dr. MARKEY: That's exactly right. The Pakistani security forces and parts of the government have seen these militant groups as useful tools - tools that they can use to project their power and influence into Afghanistan. Sort of like they used these mujahedeen groups in the '80s against the Soviets, they have used them to project Pakistani interests and influence into Kashmir and into India.

And for a long time they were seen - I think up until probably 9/11 - as real tools of the Pakistani state that could be turned on and off, controlled. And it's only in the past several years, top leaders within Pakistan are starting to see them as having gotten out of control, as looking more like Frankenstein monsters, and have at various points in the recent past actually turned against the Pakistani state itself.

MONTAGNE: Does it have much popular support in the areas it's at? Because I gather it has, besides a political wing, something of a humanitarian agenda.

Dr. MARKEY: Exactly. Lashkar-e-Taiba is actually a banned organization in Pakistan that has been replaced by a successor organization called Jamat-ud-Dawa, which essentially is a humanitarian outreach organization dedicated to things like schools and hospitals. And it runs this militancy in the background. Now, Lashkar-e-Taiba and this Jamat-ud-Dawa do enjoy a kind of popular following and are deeply embedded in the Pakistani society of that area.

MONTAGNE: Now, I think it's important to say that Lashkar-e-Taiba denied involvement in these attacks. And a spokesman for their political arm has actually condemned the attacks. What do you make of this?

Dr. MARKEY: I think that Lashkar-e-Taiba has a desire to maintain a sense of deniability that will keep a buffer and provide opportunities for the Pakistani state not to crack down on them. And so it's a self-preservation move to keep a certain question within the Pakistani society about who's really responsible for these things.

MONTAGNE: So you're not buying their denials?

Dr. MARKEY: I don't buy their denials. I think that it looks pretty clear that Lashkar-e-Taiba fingerprints are on this one, at least right now. And I'd be surprised if it doesn't look increasingly that way as time goes on.

MONTAGNE: Dan Markey was a policy expert for the State Department. He now follows South Asia as senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Thanks very much.

Dr. MARKEY: Thank you.

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