December 8th, 2008
11:46 AM ET

Pakistan militant group builds web of Western recruits

Sebastian Rotella
Los Angeles Times

The Pakistani extremist group suspected in the Mumbai rampage remains a distant shadow for most Americans. But the threat is much nearer than it seems.

For years, Lashkar-e-Taiba has actively recruited Westerners, especially Britons and Americans, serving as a kind of farm team for Islamic militants who have gone on to execute attacks for Al Qaeda, a close ally. The Pakistani network makes its training camps accessible to English speakers, providing crucial skills to an increasingly young and Western-born generation of extremists.

Briton Aabid Khan was one of them. When British police arrested him at Manchester International Airport on his return from Pakistan in June 2006, they found a trove of terrorist propaganda and manuals on his laptop that the trial judge later described as "amongst the largest and most extensive ever discovered." The haul included maps and videos of potential targets in New York City and Washington.

One video, shot deep in Pakistani extremist turf, shows the then-21-year-old Khan with a grinning young man who says he's from Los Angeles - a mysterious figure in a case that apparently illustrates Lashkar's dangerous reach.


Filed under: al Qaeda • India Attacked • Pakistan • Terrorism
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Michael Odegard

    I believe Pakistan should have been the main focus of US foreign policy since the Clinton administration. The concern over Iran and North Korea is counter intuitive given the established nuclear program of Pakistan, Pakistan's long standing financing of the Taliban, the Al Queda sanctuary in Pakistan, the quasi fascist military-political regime in Pakistan and the litany of Pakistan related terrorist activities.

    I fear US foreign policy has been on the wrong track for a long time and Pakistan will soon confirm these fears.

    December 8, 2008 at 1:17 pm |
  2. Joanne, Solvay, NY

    We have seen the rarity of Western born extremists...now this commodity is on the rise? That is shocking. The fundamentals of religious inspired extremism is not typical of American Muslims. As the tragedy unfolds, perhaps we will see who harbors these terrorist cells.

    December 8, 2008 at 12:40 pm |
  3. Cindy

    It's no shock to me that these terrorists are using the net to recruit. I had already assumed that it was going on seeing that the KKK and nuts such as that here use it to do the same thing. There needs to be a way to shut down these recruiting sites as soon as they pop up.


    December 8, 2008 at 12:22 pm |