CIA agent Raymond Davis may have been involved in investigating LeT, which, as the report below details, has had the backing of the Pakistani government at the highest levels. That possibility sheds light on prior reports that the two men Davis says he shot in self defense may have been from the ISI. Even the Pakistani police report cited below notes the two men were armed.
Expanded aspirations on the part of LeT dramatically raise the stakes for Pakistan’s double game, as Islamabad would rightly be held responsible for its proxy jihadists’ actions. “A Shooting in Pakistan Reveals Fraying Alliance,” by Mark Mazetti for the New York Times, March 12:
WASHINGTON “” Inside a dark jail cell on the outskirts of Lahore, Pakistan, a brawny 36-year-old American from the mountains of southwest Virginia has sat for weeks as Pakistan began proceedings against him on murder charges and his own government made frantic attempts to secure his release.
Fellow prisoners and guards have also accused him of blasphemy, also punishable by execution, as if to ensure he’ll be marked for death for one reason or another.
Late in January, Raymond A. Davis “” a covert security officer for the Central Intelligence Agency and onetime Green Beret “” unloaded a Glock pistol into two armed Pakistanis on a crowded street in Lahore, according to a Pakistani police report. His case was to move forward in court as early as this week.The shooting complicated American attempts to portray Mr. Davis as a paper-shuffling diplomat who stamped visas as a day job; generated an extraordinary swirl of recriminations and for many Pakistanis confirmed suspicions that America has deployed a secret army of spies and contractors inside the country.
It has also called unwelcome attention to a bigger, more dangerous game in which Mr. Davis appears to have played just a supporting role.
The C.I.A. team Mr. Davis worked with, according to American officials, had among its assignments the task of secretly gathering intelligence about Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant “Army of the Pure.” Pakistan’s security establishment has nurtured Lashkar for years as a proxy force to attack targets and enemies in India and in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir. These and other American officials, all of whom spoke only on condition of anonymity, are now convinced that Lashkar is no longer satisfied being the shadowy foot soldiers in Pakistan’s simmering border conflict with India. It goals have broadened, these officials say, and Lashkar is committed to a campaign of jihad against the United States and Europe, and against American troops in Afghanistan.
This is only a logical progression: the goal of all jihad is to impose Islamic law, and that goal is ultimately global. That is why jihadist groups far removed from one another find common cause, collaborate, and look beyond their initially “regional” conflict. We have also seen this occur with al-Shabaab in Somalia, the Salafist Group for Call and Combat in Algeria, just to name two.
During a visit to Islamabad last July, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, declared Lashkar a “global threat,” a statement that no doubt rankled his Pakistani hosts.
And so a group that Pakistan has seen for years as an essential component of its own national security, and that American counterterrorism officials could once dismiss as a regional problem, has emerged as a threat that Washington feels it can no longer ignore.
Given such a fundamental collision of interests, it was perhaps inevitable that Lashkar would one day provoke tensions between Pakistani and American security officials, and the collision itself would come into full public view. Rather than being a cause of the problem, Mr. Davis was merely an all-too-visible symptom.
As Mr. Davis discovered, the regularly accepted rules of the spy game don’t apply here. There was little chance of quickly brokering a quiet deal, allowing Mr. Davis to be spirited out of Pakistan without anyone making a fuss. Because Lashkar has long been nurtured by Pakistan’s spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, American espionage operations against the group are freighted with grave risks, and are not viewed kindly by Pakistani spies. […]
Lashkar’s sprawling headquarters in Muridke, a Lahore suburb situated along the famed Grand Trunk Road, contains not only a radical madrassa and housing for the school’s faculty members, but also a market, a hospital and a fish farm.
Terrorism experts said that the compound was built with donations from benefactors in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Arab world. Lashkar also runs successful fund-raising campaigns inside Pakistan through its allied political organization, Jamat-ud-Dawah, a group that also operates schools, medical clinics and blood banks throughout the country. […]
Lashkar has long employed the language of global jihad in its propaganda, denouncing the United States and Israel, and vowing that the group would “plant a flag” in Washington and Tel Aviv.
Despite such global goals, Lashkar for most of its history has limited its attacks to India and Kashmir “” the targets that would serve the interests of its ISI benefactors.
Professor Fair, the Georgetown expert on Lashkar, said the group has set up sophisticated networks throughout Asia to train dozens of sleeper operatives for attacks in India.
In Thailand, for instance, Muslim recruits arriving from India are handed fake Pakistani passports for travel to Pakistan, where they go for several weeks of training, according to Professor Fair. After the training, the operatives go back to Thailand, reclaim their Indian passports and return to India. […]
Lashkar has also bolstered fund-raising networks throughout Europe, especially in Germany and Britain, and European counterterrorism officials believe Lashkar is considering attacks in Western capitals similar to the devastating raids by the group in Mumbai, India, in November 2008.
Seth G. Jones, a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation who until last month worked on Afghanistan and Pakistan issues for United States Special Operations Command, compared the expansion of Lashkar’s operations with the broadening ambitions of the Pakistani Taliban, a group that had focused exclusively on attacks inside Pakistan until it dispatched Faisal Shazad in a failed mission last May to set off a van full of explosives in Times Square.
Mr. Jones said a Lashkar attack on the West could have more far-reaching consequences than one by the Taliban because Washington would no doubt lay blame for the attack on the ISI”s doorstep.
“There is a recognition that because of Lashkar’s associations, an attack on the United States could wind up causing the Pakistani government extreme pain,” said Mr. Jones, implying the possibility of using military force deep within Pakistan….