Thursday 07 Oct 2021 | 01:43 | SYDNEY
Thursday 07 Oct 2021 | 01:43 | SYDNEY

Mumbai attacks: Who controls Lashkar-e-Toiba?


Rory Medcalf


3 December 2008 10:50

Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) began life as the supposedly deniable tool of Pakistan’s military Inter-Services Intelligence.

But given the degree of terrorism within Pakistan (including assassination attempts against former presidents Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto, as well as the Marriott Hotel bombing) and the banning of LET under pressure from the US, India and others, I was reaching the conclusion that LET no longer has clear allegiance to the Pakistani state, military or ISI, but rather has more in common with al Qaeda.

However, the work of Steve Coll, whose research into the murky politics of Pakistani Islamism is exceptional (and brave), must give pause. Here he sets out the complex relationship LET appears to retain with parts of the Pakistani state, notably ISI and the army. He does not dismiss the idea that Mumbai’s masterminds were rogues within LET, but nor does he rule out that they were acting with orders from elements of the army.

It is troubling that the terrorists thought they could provoke India and Pakistan back to the brink of war. But even more worrying is the notion that some within Pakistan’s military and intelligence establishment still think they stand to gain from the attacks on Mumbai and its aftershocks.