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'The Army of Madinah'

Kishalay Bhattacharjee

By Wilson John
Amaryllis in association with Observer Research Foundation, 2011, pp.295, Rs.595.00


Amongst the numerous armed groups operating within India and many outside India's borders targeting India, the most potent perhaps is the Lashkar-e-Taayyeba or the LeT. It is also the most 'visible manifestation' of the al-Qaida in India. The Mumbai attack of November 2008 unleashed a new face of terror when LeT and its objectives were manifested in the most obvious ways. It is unfortunate that the tragedy of Mumbai 2008 has been virtually lost on policymakers and agencies responsible for countering terror on such a scale. The 'Army of Madinah' as tagged in Wilson John's book The Caliphate's Soldiers: The Lashkar-e-Tayyeba's Long War is not just another South Asian Jihadi outfit but an unprecedented global network of terror. It's strategic objectives which Wilson quotes from the website of the outfit claim that Muslims ruled Andalusia (Spain) 800 years ago and now Christians rule and 'we must wrest it back from them. All of India, including Kashmir, Hyderabad, Assam, Nepal, Burma, Bihar and Junagarh were part of the Muslim empire that was lost because Muslims gave up Jihad.' The claim over Muslim territory according to the LeT stretches across France and even mountains of Switzerland which they say are now under the occupation of 'unbelievers'. For two decades now LeT's 'global outreach' programme has helped recruit and fund terrorist activities in different parts of the world. Wilson John's book comprehensively weaves together the birth of the movement, its rise, its linkages and every aspect with intimate details. It is imperative for policymakers to understand the dynamics of this network for there is no other work which travels so extensively into the 'deep state' leaving no doubt whatsoever of how Pakistan hosts and supports one of the most lethal and determined global terror outfit. Names of terrorist leaders we have heard of come alive in the descriptions Wilson offers in his book. For example , 'At first glance, Saeed, with his Turkish cap, salwar-kameez and beard coloured red, looks like just another middle-class and middle-aged Pakistani from rural Punjab. A portly cleric, he enjoys a good life and has considerable influence in the community where he leads his flock.' The description of Hafiz Mohammad Saeed is not isolated in just one chapter. Hafiz Saeed, the LeT chief as one of the world's most written about 'terror mastermind' finds generous reference in Wilson's research. "Wilson John's book comprehensively weaves together the birth of the movement, ...

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