The attacks on the luxurious Taj Hotel in Mumbai in 2008 put Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, a jihadist terrorist group, in the international / Western spotlight for the first time, though they had been deadly active in India and Afghanistan for decades.
In her book In Their Own Words: Understanding Lashkar-e-Tayyaba
(Oxford University Press, 2018), Christine Fair
reveals a little-known aspect of how LeT functions in Pakistan and beyond, by translating and commenting upon a range of publications produced and disseminated by Dar-ul-Andlus, the publishing wing of LeT.
Only a fraction of LeT's cadres ever see battle: most of them are despatched on nation-wide "prozelytising" (dawa) missions to convert Pakistanis to their particular interpretation of Islam, in support of which LeT has developed a sophisticated propagandist literature. This canon of Islamist texts is the most popular and potent weapon in LeT's arsenal, and its scrutiny affords insights into how and who the group recruits; LeT's justification for jihad; its vision of itself in global and regional politics; the enemies LeT identifies and the allies it cultivates; and how and where it conducts its operations. Particular attention is paid to the role that LeT assigns to women by examining those writings which heap extravagant praise upon the mothers of aspirant jihadis, who bless their operations and martyrdom. It is only by understanding LeT's domestic functions as set out in these texts that one can begin to appreciate why Pakistan so fiercely supports it, despite mounting international pressure to disband the group.
India and the United States are placed in extremely difficult positions with regard to Pakistan because of this.
Christine Fair is a Provost's Distinguished Associate Professor in the Peace and Security Studies Program within Georgetown University's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.
Kirk Meighoo is a TV and podcast host, former university lecturer, author and former Senator in Trinidad and Tobago. He hosts his own podcast, Independent Thought & Freedom, where he interviews some of the most interesting people from around the world who are shaking up politics, economics, society and ideas. You can find it in the iTunes Store or any of your favorite podcast providers. You can also subscribe to his YouTube channel. If you are an academic who wants to get heard nationally, please check out his free training at becomeapublicintellectual.com.