The Lashkar-e-Toiba recruits most of its cadre from Pakistan’s Punjab province, and the districts they come from overlap those that produce Pakistan army officers, according to the findings of a US military study, which goes on to raise questions about potentially overlapping social networks too.
The study, conducted by the Combating Terrorism Center at the US Military Academy, was compiled from an analysis of the biographies of 917 slain militants. It also finds that family dynamics play a large part in influencing the entry of recruits, and that the militants had a higher level of nonreligious education than their peers in Pakisani society.
Amid international calls for Pakistan to show tangible action against the LeT, the study finds that 89 per cent of the Lashkar men came from Pakistan’s largest and politically influential province of Punjab and are deeply embedded into the social milieu. It adds the highest concentration came, in order of frequency, from the districts of Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Lahore, Sheikhupura, Kasur, Sialkot, Bahawalnagar, Bahawalpur, Khanewal and Multan.
“It is noteworthy that there is considerable overlap among the districts that produce LeT militants and those that produce Pakistan army officers, a dynamic that raises a number of questions about potentially overlapping social networks between the army and LeT,” it notes. “While certainly not the norm, at least eighteen biographies in our data set describe connections between LeT fighters and immediate family members (ie, fathers or brothers) who were currently serving or had served in Pakistan’s army or air force.”
The study finds family dynamics “an important driver of militant recruitment”. “The siblings and parents are central characters in the biographies and they play important roles in a fighter’s entry into and journey through LeT,” it notes.
“For example, siblings or other immediate family members were often the ones to drop off a LeT recruit at a training camp or at the border before his mission,” it adds. “This finding suggests that scholars should reconsider the value of parental influences in understanding radicalisation and a young person’s decision to participate in jihad.”
The study identifies 12 channels of LeT recruitment, “the most common forms