Lashkar-e-Taiba Surpasses al-Qaeda as the Biggest Terrorist Threat from South Asia, Says TRAC

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New profile in The Beacham Group's digital terrorism research tool explores the fast growth and global aspirations of this dangerous group.

LeT has a more deadly combination of capability, capital, and intent to attack the West than al-Qaeda, the Taliban or the Haqqani Network.

Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) now represents the most significant terrorist threat to Western security interests from South Asia, according to Terrorism Analysis & Research Consortium (TRAC), published by The Beacham Group, LLC and one of the world’s leading resources for terrorism research. South Asia-based LeT -- best known for the notorious 2008 Mumbai massacre, a brazen three-day assault on the largest city in India -- has a more deadly combination of capability, capital, and intent to attack the West than al-Qaeda, the Taliban or the Haqqani Network.

“Many analysts have expressed concerns that LeT could become the ‘new al-Qaeda,’” says LeT profile author Alexander Hull, South Asian editor for the Extremis Project, a UK-based extremist monitoring and analysis service. “Recent events indicate that the evolution of the group from an India-centric to a truly global and anti-Western jihadist group may in fact be on a more accelerated time-scale than previously thought.”

Founded in 1987 in Eastern Afghanistan, LeT remained relatively unknown outside of South Asia until its attack on Mumbai, which elevated the profile of the group and revealed its ability to manage complex and deadly attacks abroad. The attack also marked the point at which LeT moved from latent to active anti-Americanism. While LeT has not made any serious attempts to mount an attack on the U.S. homeland, Hull notes that the 2004 detection of the LeT-linked “Virginia Jihad Network” may be symptomatic of a larger-scale network of LeT sympathizers within the United States… one that could activate an attack on U.S. soil.

Further, LeT has significant capital – human and cash. “While groups that the US and its allies have been targeting since 9/11, such as al-Qaeda, have been nearly completely destroyed or operate in various different forms than they did pre-9/11, LeT is the only terrorist group in Pakistan to have increased in size and strength since the U.S. has begun the War on Terror,” says Hull. “Its human capital is such that al-Qaeda Central could only dream of.”

Hull estimates LeT’s military budget at more than $5 million -- coffers far larger than al-Qaeda’s. “LeT is often viewed by Pakistanis as ‘good’ jihadists, for the fact they have historically operated against Indians, and unlike the Pakistani Taliban, never target the Pakistani state. These two factors combined make it likely that LeT could be financially independent through the elicitation of funds from certain sectors of Pakistani society,” says Hull.

“What course of action the Pakistani state elects to take in its short-term counterterrorism policy will be crucial to the risk that Western states and societies will be exposed to,” says Hull. “However, that is not as important as Western security communities and policy makers devoting more attention to this dangerous and evolving terrorist group.”

“Lashkar-e-Taiba: An Evolving Threat to the West” is available to subscribers to TRAC, a digital information resource that addresses the burgeoning need among faculty, scholars, students, government and defense professionals for cutting-edge research on terrorism and terrorists. The Beacham Group, LLC, unveiled TRAC in February 2012 after eight years in development. Immediately commended for its breadth of content – described by Library Journal as “astonishing” – TRAC provides historical context and maintains a current intelligence repository with a consortium of 2,200 specialists and a real-time news feed that reports on events as they occur. It includes profiles of more than 4,000 terrorist groups and links to 2,900 think tanks, universities, government agencies and other organizations studying terrorism.

Interviews with TRAC’s experts can be arranged through TRAC’s media office. Follow TRAC on twitter (@TRACTerrorism) to stay up to date on important, but often missed news in this dynamic area. To learn more about TRAC visit

About The Beacham Group
Founded in 1985 as Beacham Publishing Corp., The Beacham Group, LLC is renowned for the creation of authoritative reference works that enable comprehensive research, especially on topics of emerging interest. Its acclaimed titles span the impact of climate change with Beacham's Guide to Endangered Species and Beacham’s Guide to Environmental Issues and Sources to topical issues in literature to important societal concerns with The Encyclopedia of Social Change and its newly released TRAC (Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium).

Beacham’s unique publishing model assembles and curates the input of topic experts, connecting users with high quality, trustworthy information in a single source.


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Beth Dempsey
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