USAID leader in Pakistan supports Jamaat-ud-Dawa front

The administrator of the US Agency for International Development in Pakistan visited a relief camp established by the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a terrorist group supported by the Pakistani military, and delivered supplies to the camp.

Rajiv Shah, the USAID chief, visited a camp yesterday in Sukkur run by the Falah-i-Insaniat, Dawn reported. Shah delivered two truckloads of supplies to the camp to be distributed by Jamaat-ud-Dawa, according to Yahya Mujahid, the terror groups’ spokesman.

Falah-i-Insaniat is a known front for the for the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, which in itself is a charitable front for the al Qaeda-linked Lashkar-e-Taiba. Falah-i-Insaniat was established in 2009 after the United Nations added Jamaat-ud-Dawa to its list of proscribed terror groups. The charitable front established relief camps and delivered aid to Pakistanis fleeing military operations in Swat and the Malakand District that began in the spring of 2009. These camps also served as fertile recruiting grounds for the Jamaat-ud-Dawa/Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Jamaat-ud-Dawa capitalized on Shah’s visit to claim that the group is legitimately conducting relief operations.

“JuD is actively taking part in relief operations,” Mujahid quoted Shah as saying. “The work being done by the group is appreciable.”

The US embassy denied that Shah visited a camp run by Jamaat-ud-Dawa and instead claimed it was run by USAID partners World Food Programme and Save the Children. But Dawn reported that the camp has a banner at the entrance that reads “Relief Camp — Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation.”

Background on Lashkar-e-Taiba/Jamaat-ud-Dawa’s extensive links with al Qaeda and Pakistan’s military intelligence service

The Lashkar-e-Taiba/Jamaat-ud-Dawa and its founder, Hafiz Saeed, have strong links to al Qaeda and elements within Pakistan’s military and the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI.

Osama bin Laden and his mentor Abdullah Azzam encouraged Saeed to form Lashkar-e-Taiba in the late 1980s, and helped fund the establishment of the terror outfit. Lashkar-e-Taiba, like al Qaeda, practices the Wahabi strain of Islam, and receives funding from Saudis and other wealthy individuals throughout the Middle East.

Lashkar-e-Taiba is an ally of al Qaeda; the two groups provide support for each other, and their operatives train in each other’s camps. Lashkar-e-Taiba has established training camps in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province and the tribal areas, and also maintains camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and the Northern Areas.

A senior US military intelligence official described the group as “al Qaeda junior,” as it has vast resources 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 official told The Long War Journal in November 2008.

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 has an extensive network in Southern and Southeast Asia, where it seeks to establish a Muslim caliphate. The group essentially runs a state within a state in Pakistan; the group has established an organization that is as effective as Lebanese Hezbollah. Its sprawling Murdike complex, just northwest of Lahore in Punjab province, is a town of its own. Throughout Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Lashkar-e-Taiba runs numerous hospitals, clinics, schools, mosques, and other services. In support of its activities, Lashkar is active in fundraising across the Middle East and South Asia, and the group has recruited scores of Westerners to train in its camps.

In 2005, the group succeeded in providing aid to earthquake-ravaged regions in Kashmir while the Pakistani government was slow to act. Most recently, Lashkar-e-Taiba provided relief to tens of thousands of internally displaced persons who fled the fighting between the military and the Taliban in the Malakand Division.

Jamaat-ud-Dawa has long been known to be a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba. Saeed renamed the Lashkar-e-Taiba as “Jamaat-ud-Dawa” in 2002 after Lashkar was supposedly banned by the Pakistani government.

In reality, Saeed and his leaders re-branded the group as a Muslim charity to mask the operations of Lashkar-e-Taiba. Saeed has been arrested several times by Pakistani security forces after attacks in India, but each time has been quietly released.

After the November 2008 terror assault in Mumbai, India, which was carried out by Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives, Pakistan claimed to have shut down Lashkar-e-Taiba/Jamaat-ud-Dawa offices and camps, and detained followers, but the efforts were largely cosmetic. Saeed was formally placed under house arrest, but in reality he was free to do as he pleased.

The Lashkar-e-Taiba is one of the primary terror groups used by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency to direct military and terror operations inside India and Indian-held Kashmir. During the 1999 Kargil War, when Pakistan invaded Indian-held Kashmir, the Lashkar-e-Taiba fought as the vanguard for Pakistani forces in the mountainous region. To this day, Lashkar-e-Taiba military and terror units continue to infiltrate into Kashmir, with the help of Pakistan’s military.

In early 2009, Lashkar-e-Taiba took credit for the fighting in Kupwara, and threatened India with the possibility of new attacks. “The gun battles should serve as a message to India that the struggle for Kashmir’s freedom is on with full vigor,” spokesman Abdullah Ghaznavi said in late March. Seven Indian soldiers and 25 Lashkar fighters were killed in the battles in Kupwara.

India’s Army chief said Lashkar-e-Taiba still operates 40 to 50 camps in Kashmir and Pakistan.

Pakistan has never acted meaningfully against Lashkar-e-Taiba/Jamaat-ud-Dawa. Instead, the pattern has been to place Saeed under house arrest and claim to be shutting down the group’s facilities, then later release Saeed and allow the reopening of the group’s offices and camps.

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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  • blert says:

    The Soviets always maintained that USAID was a front for the CIA.
    After the Mumbai nightmare, and quasi-CIA involvement, what are we to think?
    From afar, it looks like we’re being totally played.

  • zarin says:

    Mr.Shah visit prove that US is playing dual game.

  • Jimmy says:

    Is the US flirting with Jihadi organizations directly now? When it realized the democratic government in Pakistan could not deliver, it courted the military directly. When it has been taken for a ride by the Pak military, has it now started courting the Jihadis? The US is making one mistake after another. Its going to be very tough countering the argument that the US was indirectly the greatest exporter of terror…Even to its friends like India!

  • Render says:

    There was no CIA involvement in the Mumbai attack, quasi or otherwise. That’s zero, nada, nein, nyet. David Headly was an informant for the DEA on a drug case. The DEA and CIA are not allowed, by law, to share information with each other. There was no Mossad involvement in the Mumbai attack either, they have better things to do, closer to home. The Mumbai attack was LeT backed and directed by ISI. End of story.
    Adjust your tinfoil accordingly to receive transmissions from black helicopters regarding chemtrails…
    Mr. Shah visit proves only that certain members and bureaucracies of the US government are clueless about their jobs, the rest of the world, or the war.
    It seems quite clear from the article itself that Mr. Shah really doesn’t care who gets and re-distributes the aid, as long as the aid gets redistributed into the region. Mr. Shah would appear to be a typical myopic bureaucrat.
    A “dual game” pshaw. The US is having a difficult enough time playing a single game with one hand tied behind its back and a blind man at the helm.

  • George says:

    No…this only shows that Mr Shah is very inexperienced. And with that he visited some places he probably shouldn’t in trying to help. His advisers need to advise and he should pay attention. He must understand, everything is political in that area of the world.

  • George says:

    In agreement with render

  • Raven says:

    Agree with your views. As George mentioned this is probably the inexperience of Mr. Shah. I guess, it doesn’t hurt if Mr. Shah clears the air.

  • Zeissa says:

    … I suppose if experience equates to not making moronic mistakes.

  • davidp says:

    Interesting article: USAID’s Rajiv Shah had to leave Pak after being threatened.
    I wonder if he wanted to visit a distribution site, and the two truckloads were simply the bribe needed to let him visit without ‘offending’ people by appearing to audit things. Then his security people spotted the LeT people and pulled him out (or they planned all along to not let him get much of a look)

  • Spooky says:

    I wouldn’t even say he’s inexperienced or clueless. It’s more like Pakistan is such a different beast from every other region of the world, even the most experienced aid distributor would get sidetracked, which is also unfortunately happening in areas like Balochistan and other remote sectors within Pakistan.

  • tjg says:

    At least the man is out there trying and doing something.
    So many lies flying around, so much self-pride and finger pointing, so many spiritually disconnected. What does it mean to be human? Many people are in deep distress now, World Food Programme and Save the Children have smart people trying to help improve conditions of most stressed children and women. How do you render the situation?
    CHASE what matters……really?
    There must be better way

  • Render says:

    Noting that the Taliban has made it very clear that they violently do not want western aid of any kind. Mr. Shah’s little excursion was stupid, and just a bit unsafe.
    This isn’t a new reaction on the part of the Talib. They reacted the same way to western aid after the ’05 earthquakes.
    The FBI only rarely operates outside of US borders, and then only with special permission from both State and Justice.
    The CIA doesn’t appear to be in the game at all.
    The DEA is in the game, but they too have a considerably myopic focus. And a problem that far outstrips their entire agency resources.
    ISI is the very epitome of two-faced. Definitive even, one might say.
    The KGB doesn’t exist anymore. They’re called the FSB nowadays. Get the memo…
    Of course there is a better way. Move the Coalition into the FATA.

  • Spooky says:

    The solution isn’t that simple. Thats just the easy way of doing things. In the end, it just means more exposure rather than better containment considering that they have more Pashtuns than Afghanistan does. It would also chase the terrorists further inland, probably into India, giving more trouble.
    Shah’s excursion in and of itself was not stupid, merely dangerous. It happens. Unless of course, you advocate not helping the people because of the actions of their government….

  • Render says:

    Spooky – The solution is indeed just that simple, and it is very much not the easy way of doing things.
    Yes it would temporarily increase the exposure of Coalition troops, but it would also reduce the number of Taliban attacks in Afghanistan by a rather large amount thereby reducing the exposure of both the Afghan civilian population and the Afghan ANA/ANP.
    The Talib, Pashtun or otherwise, would be busy defending their own bases and training camps. At the moment it’s quite clear that the Talib and their allies are not being “contained”

  • Charu says:

    As any Pakistani would immediately grasp, Mr. Shah is a Hindu. This in itself would offend the “sensibilities” of the Islamists, regardless of Mr. Shah being an American official. So they hate Hindus, Jews, women, etc, etc…. Does that mean that we have to base the choice of our officials on their likes or dislikes, or do we bend over backwards to appease their 7th century mores? OTOH, I agree that Mr. Shah should not have visited this camp without adequate security. And when he was threatened he should have immediately left the scene WITHOUT providing any aid or assistance to the Islamists. Appeasing totalitarian mindsets is a recipe for World War.


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