Ten years ago today, ten gunmen from Lashkar-e-Taiba launched a complex attack that lasted over 60 hours against India’s commercial capital, Mumbai. They targeted two luxury hotels, one of the country’s busiest railway stations, a café popular with foreign tourists, and a Jewish community center. The “26/11 attacks,” as they are known in India, left 166 people dead, and put Lashkar-e-Taiba on the global map. By the time of the attacks, it was already one of the most powerful terrorist groups in South Asia, and generally considered to be Pakistan’s most reliable proxy against India.
I devoted several years of my life to researching this militant group’s evolution, and exploring the calculus behind Mumbai for my first book, Storming the World Stage: The Story of Lashkar-e-Taiba. The attacks derailed a fragile peace process between India and Pakistan, created fears that another attack of similar scale and lethality in India would trigger war between the two nuclear-armed powers, and ushered in a trend of active shooter sieges by other jihadist groups. The most notable legacy of the attacks, however, may be that the group has actually increased its presence and influence in Pakistan despite the widespread knowledge that it was responsible for killing 166 people, including six Americans. Bluntly speaking: Lashkar-e-Taiba got away with it. That fact says a lot about the group and about Pakistan.
Read the full article in War on the Rocks.