Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Is the Lashkar Mightier Than the Qaeda?

Is it the Al-Qaeda or the Lashkar-e-Tayiba? Which of the two outfits is deadlier? Post 9/11, the Al-Qeda was considered to be the most dangerous terrorist organisation in the world. However today, things have changed and it is official that the Lashkar is the deadliest terrorist organisation in the world.

Indian Intelligence agencies told rediff.com that this outfit was growing in terms of funds and manpower and today the Al-Qaeda is living of the Lashkar. The IB says that the ISI has played a major role in the growth of the Lashkar ever since the United States of America decided to wage a war against the Al-Qaeda.

The Lashkar was set up with an intention of fighting Indian forces in Kashmir. Their operation was largely restricted to Kashmir until the ISI instructed them to expand their tentacles and spread terror all over India. While over the years the terrorist outfit grew in leaps and bounds, it was the 26/11 attack at Mumbai which propelled this outfit into a different league. The IB says that in the past decade there have been at least 200000 persons who have trained under the Lashkar. However the Al-Qaeda does not even have half this number and this is a clear indication that the Lashkar is way ahead.

In terms of modules, technology, funds and manpower, the Lashkar is way ahead of the Al-Qaeda. The IB says that as of today, the Al-Qaeda has been pushed completely only in Afghanistan, but the Lashkar on the other hand has its modules world over. The alliances that the Lashkar has managed to get on its side is what has helped this outfit grow.

Apart from India and Paksitan, the Lashkar has set up modules in Kenya, Iraq, the Gulf countries, United States and United Kingdom, thus giving the indication that it is all set to launch global jihad. The Al-Qaeda on the other hand which had modules in all the above mentioned places has been pushed into Afghanistan alone. Today the Al-Qaeda operatives are fighting alongside the Taliban and their war is restricted to Afghanistan alone.

Experts point out that the Lashkar only appears to be growing from strength to strength. There are specific instructions from the ISI to the Lashkar that they ought to be waging global jihad and hence there is a complete change in the manner they have been carrying out their attacks. The future will see more attacks in which the Lashkar would target westerners, so that they are able to make their point to the rest of the world.

Experts also point out that the Al-Qaeda was a force to reckon with until it has the blessings of the ISI. However the moment the US waged a war against this outfit, the ISI dropped the outfit and focused more on the Lashkar. One of the most trusted cadres of the ISI, Ilyas Kashmiri who was with the Al-Qaeda too fell out with the ISI due to this change in pattern. He was asked to fight alongside the Lashkar in Kashmir, but he refused stating that his war was against America. However they have managed to rope him in once again and this has only strenghthened the Lashkar further.

Statistics available with the Indian IB would go on to indicate the threat perception of the Lashkar to a great extent. Following the Mumbai attack, they have changed their strategy and would now prefer the Indian bred jihadis to wage a war within the country. Zarar Shah one of the men arrested in connection with the Mumbai attack in Pakistan stated during his interrogation that they had 300 targets in mind. Interestingly none of these targets were in India. They included the US and UK and other parts of Europe. The arrest of David Headley is another indication to show how serious the Lashkar is about waging global jihad.

The IB says that the Lashkar is making desperate attempts to further its strenght world wide. The Lashkar has been targetting India alone all these years and it was the induction of Riazzuddin Nasir which changed the entire perception. He was picked up specifically to target the foreign tourists in Goa. The IB says that the outfit wanted to make a statement over there, but that plan fell flat following the arrest of Nasir. However they managed to bounce back quickly and carried out the Mumbai attack which gave them attention world over.

There is a dangerous precedent that has set in following the Mumbai attack. Over 20,000 sympathisers of the Al-Qaeda have shifted loyalties and today subscribe to the Lashkar. The IB says that the funding from the rich businessmen in the Gulf nations have now been diverted towards the Lashkar instead of the Al-Qaeda. However all this has not affected the relationship between the Al-Qaeda and the Lashkar. The two outfits continue to remain together, but it is just that the Lashkar has taken a lead role as of today.

In terms of technology too the Lashkar is way ahead of the Al-Qaeda. They have been using various techniques to wage a battle and sources say that they have the best of equipments as of today. Infact today, this is the only outfit which is capable of launching a biological attack and they have set up their labs for the purpose in Pakistan. The interesting aspect is that their cadres are in possession of every possible army training manual of the countries they face a threat from. When Nasir was picked up, some training manuals pertaining to the US marines were found on him. For instance they would have possession of a training manual of the Indian army so that they would be in a better position to fight them. Apart from this the Lashkar has been trying to get in its possession, unmanned aircrafts. There have been attempts by the ISI to ship it for the Lashkar, but there are no confirmed reports to suggest that they have managed to acquire the aircrafts. Off late there has also been movement of night vision glasses, bullet proof vests and wireless equipments and more sophisticated weaponary to Lashkar camps, the IB also points out. While these are pretty common equipments, the fact is that they have shipped it from the US, which is a clear indication of the reach the outfit has.

The IB says that the heat is definitely on the Lashkar. The US managed to dry up the funds for the Al-Qaeda, but with the Lashkar it is not all that easy. The interesting part is that despite the crackdowns on its fund raising activity, they continue to be carried on unabated thanks to the large chain of charity organisations this outfit runs. The Lashkar has over 700 charity organisations worldwide and this is the primary source of funds which unfortunately is being diverted towards spreading Global Jihad.

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