In some ways, terrorist militias operate like a standard army. The military branch (soldiers and strategists) are supported by a community of bankers, politicians and businessmen. This community is not as well defined as the nations or states that support standard armies, but their deniability is usually implausible. A little bit of research will usually reveal their identity.
The biggest strength of the terrorist army is the fact that their soldiers and their non-violent supporters are hidden within the community. The biggest rule of terrorism’s fight club: there is no fight club. If a terrorist army had open supporters, it wouldn’t be a terrorist army.
Terrorism’s biggest weakness: the terrorist army is well protected and hard to find, but their supporters are not. We know who their supporters are in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Yemen, etc., but for a variety of reasons, we’re afraid to acknowledge their involvement or fight back. Therefore, we never strike at terrorism’s weakest point, the non-violent supporters. It’s as if we fought WWII Naziism by waging war against the SS while still treating Germany and Hitler as honored friends.
While the Salafi LeT represents one part of the Pakistani jihadi community, the other major grouping consists of the more numerous Deobandi sect with terrorist groups like the Sipah-i-Sahaba-Pakistan (SSP) Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM.) Unlike the Ahle-Hadith, the Deobandis have built a powerful political movement within Pakistan but their political participation has also resulted in periodic bouts of serious tension with the Pakistani Army, which although highly supportive of jihad in Afghanistan and India, nevertheless brooks no challenge to its vice-like grip on political power within the nation. In contrast, the LeT led Ahle-Hadith movement has traditionally stayed apolitical and instead focused on its main goal – the dream of establishing an Islamic Caliphate that stretches from Indonesia to Morocco, including Northern Australia by means of a violent jihad.
Due to its eschewing of political confrontation with the Pakistani army and thanks to the strength of its ties to Saudi Arabia the LeT steadily grew in to one of the largest and most capable jihadist groups in Pakistan, despite the relatively small size of the Ahle Hadith followers in that nation. Even though the LeT elects not to take part in politics, it does have an unarmed wing, the Markaz Da’wa wal-Irshad (MDI) or “Centre for Religious Learning and Social Welfare”. At the inspiration and by some accounts seed money from Osama bin Laden, Pakistani Salafists Zafar Iqbal and Hafiz Mohammad Saeed of the University of Engineering and Technology of Lahore, founded the MDI in 1987….
..To finance its day-to-day activities, the LeT leverages its contacts in Saudi Arabia as well as launches donation campaigns with overseas Pakistanis, especially middle class and wealthy Punjabis in Britain, Australia and the Middle East. According to Jane’s Terrorism & Insurgency Centre, Osama bin Laden has also financed LeT activities until recently. The LeT, under its new name JuD, uses its outreach networks including schools, social service groups and religious publications to attract and brainwash recruits for jihad in Kashmir and other places
If we or the Indian army had plans to fight terrorism, the Markaz Da’wa wal-Irshad and all leaders of the ‘unarmed’ wing would be attackable or arrest-able assets. Since the LeT is also trained by and closely linked to the Pakistani Intelligence agency (ISI), it would be a good idea to use whatever information we have about the ISA to weaken or dismantle it.
However, if there is no interest in responding to the Mumbai attacks, some could use the attacks as a hook to gain support for unrelated political or special interest campaigns. Governments could set up a few bureaucratic “anti-terror” groups, slap a few wrists, prosecute the footsoldiers and not the leaders. We could all accept subsequent attacks as part of the cost of doing business with terror sponsors.
Let’s see what happens