Wednesday, December 3, 2008

More on Lashkar

Steve Coll at The New Yorker has a brief piece on LeT on The New Yorker website. He spent time with them in 2005 after the earthquake and describes a group "similar to Hezbollah" that has a militant wing but also uses its affiliated "charity" Jamat ud Dawa for humanitarian aid and relief and has raised quite a bit of money for what Coll suggests are good, helpful purposes:

"In Muzuffarabad, the capital of Pakistani Kashmir, Jamat had brought in a mobile surgical unit staffed by long-bearded doctors from Karachi and Lahore—very impressive young men, fluent in English, who offered a reminder that unlike, say, the Taliban, Lashkar draws some very talented people from urban professions. (With its hospitals, universities, and social-service wings, Lashkar is akin to Hezbollah or Hamas; it is a three-dimensional political and social movement with an armed wing, not merely a terrorist or paramilitary outfit.) As part of its earthquake relief work, Lashkar ferried supplies to remote villages isolated on the far side of the churning Neelum River, one of the two snow-fed canyon rivers that traverse the area. I asked to take a ride with its volunteers, and their media officer (yes, they have media officers) agreed."

Clearly, these ends would be imperiled if LeT is found out to be behind the Mumbai attacks and Coll raises the possibility that higher-ups who have benefitted from Jamat's charity work may not have known, or approved, of this attack on India if LeT executed it.

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