Even as India’s efforts to get the senior member of Lashkar-e-Tayibba have repeatedly run into China wall, Israel on Tuesday declared the Pakistan-based outfit a terrorist organization for orchestrating the ghastly Mumbai terror attack 15 years ago that left 166 people dead.
Ten-armed terrorists sneaked into the commercial capital of India undetected in a hijacked fishing boat. Controlled by their handlers in Pakistan, they struck at several places in Mumbai, which included the orthodox Jewish Chabad center.
The dead included Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife. Their infant son escaped in the arms of his Indian nanny, and the two now live in Israel.
In a statement released on November 21, ahead of the anniversary of the Mumbai terror attacks that came to be known as 26/11, the Israeli Embassy in India revealed that it was listing LeT as a terror organization.
“Despite not being requested by the Government of India to do so, the state of Israel has formally completed all necessary procedures and has satisfied all required checks and regulations to the result of introducing Lashkar-e-Taiba into the Israeli list of illegal terror organizations,” the statement read.
The step is a major detour of Israeli policy to only list terror organizations that are actively operating against it from within or around its borders or those globally recognized by the UN Security Council or the US State Department.
“The Israeli ministries of Defense and Foreign affairs have jointly worked in the last few months towards an expedited and extraordinary listing of the Lashkar-e-Taiba organization on this date to highlight the importance of a Unified Global Front in combating terrorism,” the statement read.
The attack continued for four days before all the terrorists were eliminated, and one, Ajmal Kasab, was captured alive. Kasab was tried in India and was sentenced to death for the attack. His testimony revealed that the Mumbai attacks were planned and directed by LeT from within Pakistan. The terrorists were in touch with their handlers through mobile phones.
The terrorists traveled from Karachi, Pakistan, to Mumbai via boat. Along the way, they hijacked a fishing trawler and killed the five crew members. The terrorists got down at the Mumbai waterfront near the Gateway of India monument.
While announcing its decision, Israel said: “Lashkar-e-Taiba is a deadly and reprehensible terror organization, responsible for the murder of hundreds of Indian civilians as well as others. Its heinous actions on November 26, 2008, still reverberate in force through all peace-seeking nations and societies.”
LeT, the Salafi-jihadist group, was active in South Asia for decades before the Mumbai terror attack brought it global notoriety. Known as the “Army of the Righteous” or “Army of the Pure,” is a Sunni Muslim militant insurgent group based in Pakistan with a primary aim to liberate Jammu and Kashmir from Indian control.
According to the CIA website, LeT is led by Hafiz Mohammad SAEED (currently imprisoned in Pakistan). It has a robust infrastructure in Pakistan with district offices and departments (or wings) overseeing finances, charities, politics/government, foreign affairs, media and propaganda, social welfare programs, military operations (reportedly includes air and naval components), external affairs, education/students, ulema (clerics), and the building of mosques and madrassas. It has zonal/ regional commanders and typically conducts military/terrorist operations in cells. Its activities are coordinated through numerous front organizations, including charities. It set up a political party, the Milli Muslim League, in 2017.
In January 2023, the UN Security Council’s ISIL and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee blacklisted LeT terrorist Abdul Rehman Makki, who is also the brother-in-law of LeT leader Hafiz Saeed. Makki has occupied various leadership roles in LeT, including raising funds for the organization.
China Thwarting India’s Attempt
In September 2022, China blocked a proposal by the US and India at the United Nations to blacklist top Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist Sajid Mir, one of India’s most wanted terrorists and the main handler of the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks. It was the third attempt from China to block the blacklisting of the terrorist.
The proposal to blacklist was put forth by the US and co-designated by India under the 1267 Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council as a global terrorist and subject him to assets freeze, travel ban, and arms embargo. LeT was placed on the US Department of State’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations on December 26, 2001.
Mir has a bounty of US $5 million placed on his head by the US for his role in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks carried out by Pakistan-based LeT terrorists. Pakistan initially claimed that Mir was dead, but once it became a major sticking point in its negotiations with the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the Pakistani courts sentenced him to 15 years imprisonment.
Beijing, who claims to be an all-weather friend of Islamabad, has repeatedly put holds on listings to blacklist Pakistan-based terrorists under the sanctions committee of the UN Security Council. The US State Department said that Mir has been a senior member of LeT since 2001.
From 2006 to 2011, Mir was in charge of LeT’s external operations and planned and directed various terrorist attacks on behalf of the group. For his role in the Mumbai attacks, Mir was indicted in the United States in April 2011.
In August 2012, the US Department of the Treasury designated Mir as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. Following this, all his property and assets in the US were frozen. “Mir is on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists List. He is believed to reside in Pakistan,” according to information on the State Department website.
- Ritu Sharma has been a journalist for over a decade, writing on defense, foreign affairs, and nuclear technology.
- She can be reached at ritu.sharma (at) mail.com
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