Fighters from Pakistan’s Lashkar-e-Taiba – responsible for the Mumbai attacks in 2008 and many other terrorist atrocities, are only 17 years old on average when they are recruited and around 21 when they died, according to a detailed study of 900 militants from the group who died while members of the organisation, published by the Combatting Terrorism Center.
Using information collected from obituaries published in four Urdu-language newspapers, the authors have put together a comprehensive portrait of young militants in the organisation, which complements Stephen Tankel’s Storming the World Stage: The Story of Lashkar-e-Taiba (New York, Columbia University Press, 2011).
Families are generally very supportive of members who join the organisation, most of whom have a higher level of education than the average Pakistani male. Most had only spent an average of three years at a madrassa and few had a high level of formal religious education.
Most are recruited from the Punjab region of Pakistan, including the regions around Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Lahore, Sheikhupura, Sialkot and Bahawalpur. They were recruited by current members, family members, mosques, hearing LET speeches or friends, in that order. Training took place mainly in Muzaffarabad in Kashmir or in Afghanistan. Most of those who died were killed in Kashmir, although numbers have dropped off as the organisation has spread out to work in different areas.