Militants and Missionaries: LeT’s Dual Role in South Asia

By Stephen Tankel

Stephen Tankel is an assistant professor in the School of International Service at American University and a non-resident senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. Professor Tankel specializes in international security with a focus on terrorism and counterterrorism, political and military affairs in South Asia, and U.S. foreign and defense policies related to these issues. He has published widely on these topics and conducted field research on conflicts and militancy in Algeria, Bangladesh, India, Lebanon, Pakistan, and the Balkans.

In South Asia, most of the U.S. attention is focused on Afghanistan where it is combatting terrorist and insurgent groups such as al Qaeda, ISIS, the Haqqani network, and the Taliban.  But another prominent, Pakistani-based militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), continues to carry out attacks against Indian forces in the disputed Kashmir region and is even known to launch anti-American raids in Afghanistan. Although the U.S. State Department designated LeT as a terrorist organization in 2001, the group’s activities do not garner as much U.S. media coverage as those carried out by other regional militant groups.

The Cipher Brief’s Bennett Seftel spoke with Stephen Tankel, assistant professor in the School of International Service at American University, about LeT’s role in Pakistani society and in the broader conflict between Pakistan and India, as well as how the U.S. should view the threat posed by group.

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