Maldives, the new terror hub
Lashkar: Still dangerous, deadly and destructive
Lashkar founder Hafiz Saeed escorted by security men, as he leaves
a court in Lahore, March 2009
DINUKA LI YANAWAT TE/REU TERS
India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, right, and Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed during the
closing ceremony of the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation summit in Addu, Maldives, November 11
During his recent visit to the Maldives India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke about the chal- lenges the two countries face in fighting terrorism.
Post 26/11, attempts were made by Pakistan-based terrorist groups to float modules in the Maldives.
Indian Intelligence Bureau reports have shown that there
is an influx of Maldives-based terror operatives in Kerala.
Not only are these groups strong ideologically, but they also
have the capability of launching seaborne attacks.
The 2007 Male Sultan park blast was the first time the
India-Maldives terror link came into the limelight.
Executed by an Islamic cell connected with the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, this attack made Indian agencies sit up and take
During an interrogation Asif Ibrahim, a key Lashkar
member arrested in Kerala in 2005, hinted that the
Lashkar was setting up bases in the Maldives. He also
revealed that the terror outfit had launched the Jammat-e-
Muslimeen, a cover for the Lashkar. All operations con-
necting the Maldives and Kerala were carried out in the
name of this outfit.
Three years ago, the Lashkar-e-Tayiba proved just how
dangerous it was by carrying out a perfectly coordinated
attack in Mumbai that claimed 166 lives.
A dossier on the Lashkar reveals that though the outfit
and its members have maintained a low profile, nothing
much has changed within the organization.
Top leaders of the group, including Zaki-ur-Rehman
Lakhvi, are behind bars. But they continue to operate
from prison. Lashkar operatives are perceived as ‘freedom
fighters’ in certain sections of Pakistan and the country’s
Inter Services Intelligence continues to patronize them
despite international pressure.
Security analysts believe the organization is trying to
expand its reach across the globe, but its primary target is
Stephen Tankel, author of Stormingthe World Stage —
The Storyofthe Lashkar-e-Tayiba, told India Abroad that
growing factionalism within the Lashkar could be dangerous as the organization may spin out of control.
Indian intelligence agencies believe it is becoming difficult for Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence directorate
to control the terror outfit operatives who are getting restless, as they want to help their ‘brothers’ in Afghanistan.
The ISI is also worried that if Lashkar operatives are
allowed to function on their own without a central leadership it could spell doom for the outfit.
26/11 mastermind — Hafiz Saeed — continues to be an
inspirational figure for Lashkar cadres. But many are
more attached to Lakhvi.