Pakistan on tightrope with militant raid
It targeted a camp of the group linked to the Mumbai attacks Sunday.
NEW DELHI; and MURIDKE, PAKISTAN
By raiding a militant camp in Pakistani Kashmir Sunday, Pakistan has made its first response to United States calls for action against militants tied to the Nov. 26 attacks in Mumbai (formerly Bombay).Skip to next paragraph
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The raid targeted Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a charitable organization that the US State Department says is a front for the militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba. The alleged mastermind of the Mumbai attacks, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, was arrested in the raid, Reuters reported.
The operation signals a delicate moment for Pakistan. Lashkar-e-Taiba has been the country's most loyal proxy army against India, but the US sees it as a growing player in global terrorism and in Afghanistan. As with the Taliban, Pakistan is being asked to confront militants it once nurtured, and no group has been more closely entwined with Pakistan's intelligence service than Lashkar-e-Taiba.
As of Monday, the Pakistani government had made no official comment about the Sunday raid. Reports came from local residents and reporters, who say the Jamaat-ud-Dawa compound near Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani Kashmir, was cordoned off by the Army. Reuters quoted a Jamaat-ud-Dawa official as saying that Mr. Lakhvi had been arrested.
Pakistan will hope that the operation lessens international pressure, which has built as evidence connecting Lashkar-e-Taiba to the Mumbai attacks has increased. "We are taking action based on the intelligence given to us," a Pakistani official told The Wall Street Journal, suggesting that there would be other operations in the coming days, and adding: "It's Pakistan's decision based on our own national interest."
It is, however, clearly in America's interest, too. Lashkar-e-Taiba is a group with designs beyond the subcontinent. Cultivated by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate as a proxy army to pressure India on Kashmir in the 1990s, Lashkar-e-Taiba has established training camps that act as schools for would-be terrorists.
Lashkar-e-Taiba camps hosted the so-called "Virginia jihadis" – 11 Americans convicted of plotting against the United States between 2004 and 2006. A Frenchman was convicted of planning a terrorist attack in Australia after leaving a Lashkar-e-Taiba training camp in 2003. And Rashid Rauf, the England-born Al Qaeda operative allegedly behind the plan to blow up jetliners over the Atlantic with liquid bombs in 2006, also had early connections with Lashkar-e-Taiba.