Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) is teaming up with Bangladeshi extremist groups to launch terror strikes in India, according to a report on a leading Indian web portal. The LeT has joined hands with the extremist group the Jamaat ul Mujahedin Bangladesh (JMB) that seeks to establish a Taliban-style government and is believed to be behind the 2005 bombings across Bangladesh that targeted leading public figures. Indian intelligence maintains the JMB is strengthening its hold in India by running hawalas, or informal financial networks, to fund terrorist activities in the region.
Lashkar's presence on Bangladeshi soil is further corroborated by the 2009 arrest of three operatives from a madrassa in Chittagong, Bangladesh's main seaport and second-largest city. The operatives claimed receiving assistance from Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI.
Lashkar has had close ties to the extremist Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami/Bangladesh (HuJI-B), a group on the State Department's list of terrorist groups. But the ISI, which reportedly provided the support structure for Lashkar and other terror groups to operate in Bangladesh, feels that HuJI-B has been on the radar of Indian intelligence for years which might make it harder for the group to carry out attacks. Moreover, the ISI wants the HuJI-B to focus on operations in India's northeast region where separatist movements are rife and are looking for help from terrorist groups.
In addition to Lashkar, there have been news reports claiming the presence of the Karachi-based Pakistani group, the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), in Bangladesh. A Bangladeshi jihadist named Belal Hossain was arrested last March along with three other Bangladeshi nationals for plotting attacks in India under the guidance of the JeM.
Hossain has been linked to the 1999 hijacking of an Indian Airlines flight to Kandahar, Afghanistan. The hijacking was carried out to secure the release of Maulana Masood Azhar, who at the time was being held in Indian custody in a prison in Jammu. The entire operation was reportedly hatched in Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital city. Azhar founded the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) in 2000 soon after his release. The Treasury Department designated Azhar and other individuals and entities tied to the LeT and JeM last November.