Pakistan floods: Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Islamists linked to India's Mumbai attack, offer aid
As Pakistan floods displace millions, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a militant Islamist group linked to the 2008 terrorist assault on Mumbai, India, is distributing aid in northwest Pakistan.
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Jamaat-ud-Dawa, which the United Nations listed as a terrorist front group in the wake of the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, is working across the flood-hit areas, its spokesman told McClatchy. In Charsadda, a town in the northwest that suffered some of the worst flooding, JuD could be seen distributing food and running an ambulance service. The group claims to be involved purely in charity work.
Pakistan's ambivalent attitude toward violent Islamist groups, including the Afghan Taliban, has alarmed Washington and other Western allies. Last week British Prime Minister David Cameron accused Pakistan of promoting the "export of terror."
Concern centers on groups such as Jamaat-ud-Dawa, widely thought to be a front for extremist organization Lashkar-e-Taiba, which has links to Al Qaeda and is now said by US officials to have global ambitions. More than 160 people were killed when a group of Lashkar-e-Taiba gunmen attacked Mumbai.
With the government overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster and accused of a slow response to the worst flooding in Pakistan in at least 80 years, a gap opened that the country's well-organized Islamic groups, mainstream and extremist, are filling.
Through relief work, they've been able to win hearts and minds in a region of the country that's threatened by Islamic militancy and a Taliban takeover. Across the deluged northwest, locals complained that the government was all but absent.
The UN said Tuesday that the flooding, caused by torrential rains, has now affected 3 million people, with the death toll put at around 1,500 by the provincial government. The World Food Program, a UN agency, estimated that 1.8 million people urgently need water, food and shelter. There are fears of an outbreak of water-borne diseases such as cholera. The flood has now moved farther south, along the Indus River, to the heartland Punjab province, where the UN Tuesday reported that the river had breached its banks in seven places, affecting 990 villages.