Lashkar-e-Toiba implicated in Mumbai attacks

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), a militant Islamic fundamentalist group based in Pakistan, has been implicated in last week's Mumbai attacks in India.

Rakesh Maria, a commissioner with the Mumbai Police, said that the sole surviving attacker, whom he identified as Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, has admitted spending three months in a Lashkar-e-Toiba camp preparing the attacks. Kasab, who is reported to be 21 years old, told police that he spent a total of eighteen months training at various LeT camps.

Some of the aftermath of the attacks
Image: Vinukumar Ranganathan.

Meanwhile, John Michael McConnell, the United States Director of National Intelligence, indirectly implicated LeT. In a speech at Harvard University, he said that the same group responsible for the 2006 Mumbai train bombings was behind last week's attacks. LeT has also been blamed for the attack on the Parliament of India in late 2001

"The same group that we believe is responsible for Mumbai had a similar attack in 2006 on a train and killed a similar number of people," said McConnell without naming LeT. "If you examine the groups we think are responsible, the philosophical underpinnings are very similar to what Al-Qaeda puts out as their view of how the world should be. It is a continuation."

Commissioner Maria said that the training took place in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan, near the disputed Kashmir region. Kasab received very specific instructions, according to Maria.

Sites of the attacks in Mumbai

"He was told things like, 'You'll come in through this door, then go over here, then go out through that door,'" Maria told CNN's Nic Robertson. "Very, very detailed, explicit instructions. The gunmen were hand-picked, but there were no examinations per se."

India has also said that Kasab named known LeT leader, Yusuf Muzammil, as the mastermind behind the attacks.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited the Indian capital of New Delhi on Wednesday.

"Pakistan needs to act with resolve and urgency and cooperate fully and transparently," said Rice. "That message has been delivered and will be delivered to Pakistan."

Analysts cited by Reuters are saying that India will not resort to a military response over the Mumbai attacks.

"The military option has never been an option, because the military can't guarantee you an outcome," said Manoj Joshi, an editor at the Mail Today. "We have been there, done it, and it doesn't work." In 2002, India threatened military action after the parliament attack.

"If you want a solution to Afghanistan, you have to lean on Pakistan to shut down all jihadist operations," said Siddharth Varadarajan, an editor at The Hindu. "You have to tackle the root cause, which is the attitude of the Pakistani military. That is the silver bullet."