Pakistan raids Lashkar-e-Taiba camp in Kashmir —or does it?

Pakistan’s armed forces have moved against a camp used by banned militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, the BBC reports. A correspondent in Muzaffarabad says he was unable to reach the camp because of the cordon, but did see about 14 army vehicles leaving the area. The camp is run by the Islamic charity Jamaat-ud-Dawa, widely seen as a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba, which was banned in 2002. Reports said a number of people—between three and 20—from the charity have been arrested. (BBC News, Dec. 8)

However, a BBC World Service report quoting Ahmed Rashid, author of Descent Into Chaos, cites claims that the camp was used only for “educational” rather than military purposes, and that Lashkar’s leadership are being protected. Rashid said the US has been emphasizing to Pakistan’s leadership that six of its nationals were killed in the Mumbai attacks, and that it has been restraining retaliation by Israel, which also lost nationals in Mumbai.

India says the surviving Mumbai gunman—whose name has widely varied in media accounts, but is rendered by the BBC as “Azam Amir Qasab”—was a Lashkar-e-Taiba militant. Lashkar-e-Taiba (Urdu for “Army of the Pious”) was also blamed in the December 2001 suicide attack on the New Delhi parliament building that left 12 dead, and the June 2002 car-bomb attack on the US consulate in Karachi that killed least 11. The New Delhi attack brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war, and prompted Islamabad to formally ban the group. It was then blamed again in the August 2003 Mumbai car-bomb attack that killed nearly 50. After the July 2006 Mumbai rail attacks that killed 180, the group’s founder Hafiz Mohammad Saeed was placed under house arrest in Lahore. He is one of some 20 militant suspects that India is now demanding be turned over.

See our last posts on Pakistan, the Mumbai attacks and Kashmir.

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