The Fighters of Lashkar-e-Taiba: Recruitment, Training, Deployment and Death

Type Report
Title The Fighters of Lashkar-e-Taiba: Recruitment, Training, Deployment and Death
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2013
This paper is a study of over 900 biographies of the deceased militants of Lashkar‐e‐
Taiba (LeT), a Pakistani militant group that has waged a campaign of asymmetric
warfare against Indian security forces and civilians in the contested region of Kashmir
for over two decades, as well as other parts of India more recently. Although LeT had a
storied history on the eve of its high‐profile November 2008 terrorist assault on the
Indian city of Mumbai, that particular event and the case of American LeT operative
David Headley (who conducted the reconnaissance for the attack) thrust the
organization and the evolving threat it poses to regional security and Western interests
into broader international consciousness. That attack, coupled with LeT’s recruitment of
Westerners and linkages to a number of other international terror plots over the past
decade, have heightened concerns that the group’s interests and operational priorities
are no longer just regional, but that they are also becoming (or have already become)
global. This has led to a proliferation of interest in LeT and a desire to learn more about
the group’s behavior and how it operates outside of the South Asia region.   
Instead of evaluating evidence of the group’s internationalism, as many recent studies
have attempted to do, this study is more foundational in focus. It is predicated on the
assumption that LeT’s local activity and infrastructure are and will remain the key
source of its strength, even if the group decides to become more active in the
international arena. By leveraging biographical information extracted from four Urdu
language publications produced by LeT from 1994 to 2007 and statistical information
released by the government of Pakistan, this study aims to provide baseline data about
LeT’s local recruits, the nature of the time they spend with the group and how these
dynamics have changed over time. Specific emphasis is placed on providing insights
into the following four research questions:
1) What is the general background of LeT’s local fighters?
2) How and from where are these fighters recruited?
3) What level of training do these fighters have and where were they trained?  
4) Where exactly do LeT’s fighters die?  
A summary of our main findings and the some of the related implications follow.  

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