Several months ago, the Los Angeles Times printed a lengthy article about an extremist group, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), that operates quite openly in Pakistan. Indian and Pakistani newspapers frequently cover the activities of LeT, its founder (Hafiz Saeed) and its offshoot "humanitarian" organization, Jamat ud-Dawa (JUD). But this article was the first time I've ever seen any treatment of these groups in a mainstream U.S. newspaper. Writer Josh Meyer did an admirable job explaining these terrorist groups, how they operate openly in Pakistan with thousands of loyal supporters. Meyer also notes the ties of LeT founder Hafiz Saaed to Massachusetts, although few specifics are provided in the article. Miss Kelly readers know that Hafiz Saeed had three close relatives who were imams in Massachusetts mosques (more about that later), which is really amazing. Most Americans have at least heard of Al Qaeda, but few know about LeT or JUD. I came away from this article with the thought that World War IV is well and truly underway, as Norman Podheretz has posited in his book, World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism, whether most Western nations and citizens admit it or not. The enemy is a shifting alliance of pan-Islamic fascist organizations, using fourth generation warfare fueled by religious fanaticism and Marxist ideology. It will be a wild ride for decades to come. Excerpts from the article, please read the whole thing:
"Although the war against Islamic militancy has focused on shadowy underground organizations such as Al Qaeda, counter-terrorism officials say there is a growing worldwide threat from an extremist group operating in plain sight in Pakistan."
"The group, formerly known as Lashkar-e-Taiba, or Army of the Righteous (also Army of the Pure - editor), was formed in the late 1980s and, with the support of the Pakistani government, launched attacks against India in the dispute over the Kashmir region."
"In recent years, the camps that Lashkar once used primarily to train Pakistanis to fight for Kashmir have increasingly become a training ground for other militant groups and extremists who come from around the world to learn guerrilla warfare, according to current and former U.S. and allied counter-terrorism officials."
"And as its ranks have swelled along with anti-U.S. sentiment, they say, there is evidence that the group is working more closely with Al Qaeda and other extremist groups and may be getting more directly involved in militant activities against the West. Counter-terrorism officials cite evidence in recent years of fundraising or recruiting efforts in Canada, Britain, Australia and the United States. Inquiries are ongoing in Massachusetts and Lodi, Calif."
Aha, "Inquiries are ongoing in Massachusetts"? Glad to hear that, hope the feds are making progress.
OK, let's go back to the specifics on LeT founder Hafiz Saeed (scroll down to read previous posts on Saeed) and his relatives in Worcester, Lowell and Sharon, MA. As explained in a previous Miss Kelly post, the first relative to come here was his brother Muhammed Masood, former imam at the Islamic Center of New England in Sharon, MA, who came in 1987. Masood was picked up in November 2006 as part of a nation-wide sweep of Pakistani nationals for religious visa fraud. He's in a heap o'trouble now, facing criminal charges for making false statements to federal agents. Both he and his family are facing deportation. Things do catch up to you. Masood's next pretrial hearing is scheduled for February 28, 2008, but maybe we'll hear something before then. There's reportedly a plea deal in the making.
Hafiz Saeed's brother-in-law Abdul Hannan came here in mid-1990s's. Hannan came here via convicted felon Muhhamad Khalil, who's doing time in prison for religious visa fraud. Hannan was also picked up with Masood in November 2006 as part of the nation-wide sweep for religious visa fraud. He's out on bail and still functions as imam at the Islamic Center of Greater Lowell in Chelmsford, MA.
In 2001, another brother of Hafiz Saeed, Hamid, came to the U.S. to attend a conference on Islamic financing at the Harvard Law School Islamic Finance Center. Hamid has a lengthy AKA list: Muhammed Hamid, Hafiz Hamid, Hamid Mehmud, Hamid Mahmud, Hamid Mehmood and Hamid Qureshi. Things were getting hot for Masood and Hannan after they were picked up in November 2006, and in June 2007, brother Hamid, his shuttlecock-burqa wearing wife, and five (seven?) children high-tailed it out of the U.S. It was a sudden departure indeed.
There's yet another Saeed/Masood relative in the U.S., I must do some more research on that one.
Back to the LA Times article:
"U.S. and European authorities believe that throughout the 1990s the group branched out and established close ties with more than a dozen Islamic militant groups in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and areas of the former Soviet Union."
"Although its leadership has not been directly connected to any terrorist acts against the West, members of Lashkar-e-Taiba and others who have attended its training camps have been linked to some of the most serious plots uncovered since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, including a scheme in Britain to blow up at least 10 U.S. jetliners over the Atlantic in 2006, plots to attack a nuclear plant and other targets in Australia, and one to blow up Canada's Parliament building."
"....Since the formation of Jamaat ud-Dawa, which translates roughly as "the Islamic Missionary Organization," Saeed has remained at the helm. From its headquarters near Lahore, close to the border with India, Jamaat still runs a network of at least 10 camps and mobile training centers, U.S. officials say. The camps provide training in explosives, weapons, assassinations and surveillance to recruits and to individuals affiliated with other extremist groups, such as the Taliban of Afghanistan, which pay for the service, said a Western diplomat in Pakistan who monitors the group."
"....Bahukutumbi Raman, a former head of counter-terrorism for India's intelligence service, said Saeed's group has established much closer ties to Al Qaeda in recent years and has sleeper cells in Britain, France, Australia and the U.S., as well as Singapore and other Southeast Asian countries."
"Those cells collect information, motivate Pakistani expatriates, recruit, procure weapons and raise money, said Raman, director of the Institute for Topical Studies in Chennai, India."
"One British convert to Islam, Dhiren Barot, wrote a book about his experiences in Lashkar before the Sept. 11 attacks. He pleaded guilty last year in London to plotting numerous attacks in Britain with extremists of Pakistani origin; some of the attacks would have used a radioactive bomb."
Hmmm, do we have any sleeper cells in Massachusetts? Given the numerous Saeed relatives who have lived here for many years, not to mention other cousins who have come here and gone, it's likely that there are sleeper cells here. One wonders who they are, where they are, and what their plans are.
Meanwhile, terrorist cells flourish in Pakistan, and Hafiz Saeed gives a fiery sermon every Friday night in Lahore, protected by a substantial security escort. The Jamat al Dawah campus at Muridke (previously an LeT camp) is full of arms and ammunition, but it's a no-go zone for the Pakistan Army or Police.