Pakistani Group Banned After Mumbai Attack Operating Openly

ISLAMABAD (McClatchy Foreign Staff/MCT) -

Pakistan’s government appears to have relaxed its enforcement of a five-year-old United Nations ban on the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist organization, which incurred the sanctions because of its militants’ alleged involvement in the November 2008 rampage in Mumbai, India, in which 166 people were killed.

Two of Lashkar’s front organizations openly raised money this week as the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha got under way. No authorities made any effort to stop them — not a surprise, perhaps, because the groups have been known to work with the government when natural disasters strike.

But the Pakistani military’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate has kept a tight leash on Lashkar-e-Taiba, which the U.S. has labeled a terrorist organization, since Pakistan told the United Nations it would enforce a ban on the group and its affiliates after the Mumbai assault.

Lashkar’s public resurgence follows the end of a decade-long ceasefire between Pakistani and Indian forces along the disputed border of the mountainous Kashmir state in August. Since then, Lashkar and other Pakistani terrorist groups with a history of terrorist activity in India have made a rapid comeback.

It wasn’t difficult for McClatchy to find them in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, on Wednesday, the first day of a Muslim festival.

Lashkar’s black-and-white-striped flag was clearly displayed on banners flying just 200 yards outside the residential suburb of Korang Town. Emblazoned across the banners were the addresses and phone numbers of mosques affiliated with Lashkar’s Jama’at-ud-Da’wah sister organization. The U.N. banned the Jama’at, too, after the Mumbai attacks, and Pakistan took similar action that same day, Dec. 11, 2008.

India is furious that the founder of Lashkar and head of Jama’at, Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, is free to preach and move around Pakistan after a high court acquitted him of involvement in the attacks.