‘Lashkar-e-Taiba is a member of al Qaeda’

Osama bin Laden escorted by the Black Guard.

Jean-Louis Bruguiere, a former French investigative magistrate who specialized on al Qaeda and investigated the terror group in Pakistan, has more damning information on al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and the groups’ ties to each other and the Pakistani state. From Reuters:

In an interview, Bruguiere said he was convinced Lashkar-e-Taiba, first set up to fight India in its part of the divided Himalayan region of Kashmir, had become part of an international network tied to al Qaeda.

‘Lashkar-e-Taiba is no longer a Pakistani movement with only a Kashmir political or military agenda. Lashkar-e-Taiba is a member of al Qaeda. Lashkar-e-Taiba has decided to expand violence worldwide,’ he told Reuters.

Bruguiere goes on to explain that shoe-bomber Richard Reid and three other Westerns were trained in a Lashkar-e-Taiba camp by Pakistani soldiers who doubled as members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba. The training camp was supported by the Pakistani Army. “Military supplies were dropped by army helicopters,” Reuters reported.

Here is some background on the Lashkar-e-Taiba and al Qaeda given to me by US intelligence officials last year:

Lashkar-e-Taiba has an extensive network in southern and Southeast Asia. A senior US military intelligence official described the group as “al Qaeda junior,” as it has vast resources, an extensive network, and is able to carry out complex attacks throughout its area of operations. “If by some stroke of luck al Qaeda collapsed, LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba) could step in and essentially take its place.”

The relationship between al Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Taiba is complex, the official noted. “While Lashkar-e-Taiba is definitely subordinate to al Qaeda in many ways, it runs its own network and has its own command structure. The groups often train in each others’ camps, and fight side by side in Afghanistan.”

Lashkar-e-Taiba forces fought alongside al Qaeda and Taliban in the assault on the US combat outpost in Wanat in Nuristan province, Afghanistan in July of this year. Nine US troops were killed, and 15 US soldiers and four Afghan troops were wounded in the heavy fight that nearly ended in the outpost being overrun. US forces ultimately broke the attack.

That final reference to Wanat is evidence of what we now know as al Qaeda’s Lashkar al Zil, or the Shadow Army. This is al Qaeda’s military organization manned by the various jihadi groups, including the Lashkar-e-Taiba.

For more on Bruguiere’s accusations of the Pakistani-jihadi nexus, see “French prosecutor points out Pakistan links to jihadis.”

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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