Israel bans Lashkar-e-Taiba: Time for concerted global action

With the Hamas attack on the Israeli music festival on October 7, it is no surprise that Israel, after years of not acting against the LeT, took action this year. It is possible that this gesture was initiated to garner support from India, which could eventually lead to India banning Hamas as well.

Aparna Rawal Dec 01, 2023
Israel bans Lashkar-e-Taiba

On 21st November 2023, Israel joined the list of countries that banned and proscribed the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) as a terrorist organisation. The LeT is already banned in India under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

 The United States had already enlisted the outfit in the Terrorist Exclusion List on 5th December 2001 and eventually designated the Lashkar-e-Taiba as a FTO (Foreign Terrorist Organization) on 26th December 2001. By March 30th, 2001, Britain had also designated LeT as a terrorist outfit. Other nations, which took similar steps towards  LeT include Australia, Pakistan, Russia and Japan. Additionally, supranational and political unions, such as the European Union and the United Nations, followed suit.

LeT is a Pakistan-based Islamist Salafi jihadist organisation whose objective is to fuse Kashmir with Pakistan. It views United States, Israel and India as its primary enemies and has spoken of the elimination of these states by waging jihad.

It was founded by Hafiz Saeed with the support of several Afghan mujahideen. It is said to have received funding from Al Qaeda during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and possesses close links with the Taliban and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The majority of the funding comes from the ISI, communities in the Gulf, and Islamic NGOs in the form of 'zakat', or Islamic charity.

Timing of Israeli action

The Israeli proscription and ban on LeT preceded the 15th anniversary of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks in 2008. The Israeli decision to designate LeT as a terrorist outfit was initiated without the request from the Indian government, a decision solely taken by Israel on its own accord. The Israeli embassy issued a statement saying that Tel Aviv had officially concluded all required procedures and protocols required for “introducing Lashkar-e-Taiba into the Israeli list of illegal terror organisations”.

Backing the move firmly, Israel’s Ambassador to India Naor Gilon referred to the decision as the “right thing”. He mentioned that the decision to ban LeT as one of the proscribed terrorist groups happened months before the Oct 7th Hamas attack in Israel. Gilon called the move a just move, even though LeT is not believed to have any direct imprint on Israeli soil. However, it shows the Israeli dedication to fighting terrorism which could be related to the one endangering the society there.

Despite that, the impact of the 26/11 attack on Mumbai was felt across the world as 16 nations, among which the US, Israel, Britain, Canada, Germany, France and others, had citizens who died at the hands of the LeT terrorists.

A ten-member squad of the LeT terrorists had infiltrated Mumbai on the night of November 26th, 2008. The orchestrated attacks lasted for 4 days, consuming the lives of 166 people and leaving 300 injured. American and British nationals were murdered in two hotel complexes while the Israeli nationals were tortured and killed at a Chabad Centre at Nariman House. Café Leopold in Colaba, a favorite spot for tourists, foreign nationals and expats, was another target, while Chatrapati Shivaji Terminal became the site of the largest Indian death toll in the attack. It was evident that the meticulously planned attack was of a Jihadist nature which aimed at delivering a message to nations who advocated against Islamic terrorism and those whom LeT condemned openly for being non-Muslim. One of the key conspirators behind the attack had often made statements, which were anti-Hindu and anti-Semitic. From the call recordings documented by the law enforcement agencies, it was deciphered that the individuals recruited for the terror attacks were fidayeen and openly embraced the notion of carrying jihad on India’s financial capital. Given such information, it is expected that most nations to be apprehensive against Islamist terrorism in the future, especially when the outfits specifically call for jihad on them.

With the Hamas attack on the Israeli music festival on October 7, it is no surprise that Israel, after years of not acting against the LeT, took action this year. It is possible that this gesture was initiated to garner support from India, which could eventually lead to India banning Hamas as well.

India's firm stand on terrorism

Drawing similarities from the horrific 9/11 attacks in the US and the 26/11 Mumbai attacks in 2008, Gilon called for collective action against terrorism.

Recounting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech calling terrorism a global phenomenon, he pointed out the similarities between the two nations when it came to countering terrorism while maintaining mutual support for one another in times of crisis.

While India advocates a two-state solution but has taken a firm stand against the Hamas attack by condemning it unequivocally. Since the commencement of Israeli Operation Iron Sword as a retaliation to the gruesome attack, India has sent humanitarian aid to Gaza's stricken civilian population keeping in line with its support for the two-state policy for Israel and Palestine.

The first cache of aid, comprising medical and disaster relief, was sent on October 22, 2023. The second batch was sent via an Indian Air Force C17 aircraft carrying 32 tonnes of aid to El-Arish Airport in Egypt.

On 27 October 2023 at the UNGA meeting in New York, India’s stance on the Israel -Palestine conflict became more transparent. India abstained from voting in favour of a non-binding resolution proposed by Jordan. The resolution demanded an “immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce” between Israeli forces and Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip. It also called for “continuous, sufficient and unhindered” provision of supplies and services to people in Gaza. However, it failed to explicitly condemn Hamas.

While India recognized the humanitarian crisis erupting from Israel's assault on Gaza, its stance on condemning Hamas stays firm. As India’s deputy permanent representative to the UN, Yojna Patel stated “Terrorism is a malignancy and knows no borders, nationality or race. The world should not buy into any justification of terror acts. Let us keep aside differences, unite and adopt a zero-tolerance approach to terrorism”

Additionally, she also expressed the growing concern for civilian casualties in the wake of the war.

On 11 August 2006, M. K. Narayanan, then India’s National Security Adviser, had described the LeT as the “most visible manifestation” of al Qaeda in India. With the immense backing from its donors, LeT has branches and networks in Pakistan, India, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and Bangladesh.

The LeT also maintains a close network with several religious and military groups in the Philippines, Middle East and Chechnya. Most of its connections are derived from al Qaeda fraternal network. Hence it was no surprise to see LeT participate in the Bosnian campaign against the Serbs.

Through its jihadist networks, LeT has managed to build connections with many outfits such as Ikhwan-ul-Musalmeen of Egypt.  Its unit in Germany is also known to receive aid from the Al Muhajiraun, a supporter of the Sharia Group.  According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), LeT has also established links with the International Sikh Youth Federation. 

With the LeT network spreading its tentacles in many countries through its jihadist networks, the call for collective counter-terrorism measures globally would be appropriate. However, coordination on global measures might be a hard task as some countries may be engaged in specific conflicts and may be utilizing certain terrorist networks to advance their interests.

(The writer is an Indian research analyst specializing in AF/Pak region and counter-terrorism. Views are personal. She can be contacted at

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