Aug 25 The Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the humanitarian wing of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group, has been providing relief to those hit by Pakistan's floods.
It is operating in flood-hit areas under a different name, the Falah-e-Insaniyat, after the JuD was blacklisted by the United Nations following the November 2008 attack on Mumbai, blamed on the Lashkar-e-Taiba.
United States Agency for International Development head Rajiv Shah toured a camp run by the Falah-e-Insaniyat on Wednesday. [IDn:SGE67O08A]
Here are some details about the overall group that, despite denials from its founders, is widely believed to continue to operate as a cohesive whole.
The group has its roots in the Markaz ad-Dawat wal-Irshad (MDI), an organisation created in the mid-1980s to support the jihad against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and to provide Islamic charity and spiritual guidance.
The organisation then split into two wings:
-- Lashkar-e-Taiba is its military wing. Founded in 1990, it began operations in Indian Kashmir in 1993.
-- Jamaat ud-Dawa is its humanitarian wing. It provides extensive education, healthcare and disaster relief.
While their military focus has been on Kashmir, their ideology is pan-Islamic.
They are based in Punjab province and in Pakistani Kashmir. Jamaat ud-Dawa runs a large educational complex at Muridke near Lahore. The MDI's founder, Hafez Saeed, is a former professor.
The Falah-e-Insaniyat first appeared last year to help people displaced by military operations in Swat, in the northwest.
OPERATIONS IN THE WEST
It has support and funding in the Pakistani diaspora, often in the form of donations for its charitable work. Analysts say it could exploit this network for attacks on the West.
Among operations linked to Lashkar-e-Taiba were:
-- The Virginia Jihad Network broken up by U.S. authorities and accused of providing support to Lashkar-e-Taiba.
-- French police investigated a British-Pakistani living in Paris for allegedly helping "shoe-bomber" Richard Reid in December 2001. Police failed to prove the case against him, but he was convicted and jailed for recruiting for Lashkar-e-Taiba.
-- Frenchman Willy Brigitte was convicted of involvement in planning attacks in Australia after spending several months in a Lashkar-e-Taiba training camp in 2001/2002.
-- One of the London underground suicide bombers in 2005 had briefly visited Lashkar's Muridke headquarters, though police found no evidence of the group's involvement in the attack.
-- David Headley, an American arrested in Chicago last year, has pleaded guilty of working with Lashkar-e-Taiba to plot attacks in India, including surveillance of targets in Mumbai.
OPERATIONS IN INDIA
Lashkar-e-Taiba's main focus is on Kashmir and India. Among its operations, alleged or claimed, are the following:
-- An attack on the historic Red Fort in New Delhi in 2000
-- A raid on the Indian parliament in December 2001; another Pakistan-based militant group, the Jaish-e-Mohammad, was also blamed for this attack.
-- A three-day assault on Mumbai in November 2008 which killed 166 people.
-- Lashkar is believed to have built a network of sleeper cells in India, capitalising on the anger of some Indians Muslims about perceived injustices by the Hindu majority.
OPERATIONS IN AFGHANISTAN
The group has not been heavily involved in the Taliban-led campaign against western forces in Afghanistan, but is believed to operate in Kunar and Nuristan in the east of the country.
Indian analysts also suggested it was involved in an attack on Indian interests in Kabul in February 2010.
Pakistani security officials say any militants operating in Afghanistan have broken away from the main organisation.
It is officially banned in Pakistan but unofficially tolerated. In the past, it has been close to the army and its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency. It is the only group not believed to have launched attacks inside Pakistan itself.
Pakistani security officials have said Pakistan is reluctant to act more forcefully against the group since this would create a new enemy at a time when it has already been fighting the Pakistani Taliban in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.
Pakistan has arrested seven men over the Mumbai attack, but rejected Indian demands that its leader Hafez Saeed be arrested.
The Jamaat-ud-Dawa won popular support for its quick relief work after an earthquake in Pakistani Kashmir in 2005, and is expected to pick up more followers over its flood relief work. (Reporting by Myra MacDonald; Editing by Alex Richardson)
(For more coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan, see: here)