BY Praveen Swami
The Lashkar-e-Taiba, it is asserted, is a product of the India-Pakistan contestation in Jammu and Kashmir and has little interest in targeting the West. Both claims are ill-founded.
“Umm al-Qura Maintenance Company, LLC,” read the sign outside the door. Inside the sparse office, named for the Lashkar-e-Taiba’s main training base in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, the jihadist group’s top military commander was having an increasingly heated argument.
Muzammil Bhat, who investigators say supervised the training and execution of the November 2008 terror strikes in Mumbai, had arrived in Dubai to meet with a long-standing asset he hoped would facilitate operations inside India. But the former Nizambad commerce student, Abdul Razzak Masood, flatly refused to cooperate, saying India wasn’t the enemy. He demanded that the Lashkar, instead, focus its resources on targeting the United States, principal adversary of the Islamist movement.
Ever since the arrest of Pakistani-American jihadist David Headley — charged with carrying out the reconnaissance that enabled the carnage in Mumbai — intelligence services across the world have been revisiting the Masood case. Headley’s case has made clear that the Lashkar possesses transcontinental networks of global reach and lethality. Masood’s story helps to understand the complex ties that bind the Lashkar and the global jihadist movement.