The death of Osama bin Laden has badly weakened al-Qaeda and deprived Islamic extremists of their most visible leader. In testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee, Stephen Tankel explains how the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT)—while unlikely to replace al-Qaeda at the forefront of global jihad even with bin Laden’s death—has the capability to threaten the U.S. homeland.
U.S. Policy Recommendations:
- Deliver a clear message to Pakistan: The United States should continue to signal to Pakistan the severe repercussions that would result if LeT or elements within it were involved in an attack against American interests at home or abroad.
- Improve intelligence sharing: The United States should push Pakistan to provide intelligence regarding LeT’s international networks and begin taking steps to dismantle LeT’s training apparatus in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
- Push for a program to disarm, demobilize, and reintegrate militants: The United States should partner with a third country, possibly Saudi Arabia, to spur Pakistan’s launch of a formal program to reintegrate LeT fighters back into society. Such a program could then be used to deactivate militants from LeT as well as other extremist organizations within Pakistan.
“Lashkar-e-Taiba is one of Pakistan’s oldest and most powerful militant groups,” concludes Tankel. “Dismantling LeT must be a gradual process in order to avoid provoking a major backlash that could destabilize Pakistan or cause the group’s transnational operatives to be unleashed.”