SOAS University of London

Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy

Understanding Lashkar-e-Tayyaba

Professor C. Christine Fair (Georgetown University), Dr. Matthw Nelson (SOAS), Dr Ayesha Siddiqa (SOAS), Dr Walter Ladwig (Kings College London), Dr Sarah Ashraf (ISD Global)

Date: 29 April 2019Time: 7:00 PM

Finishes: 29 April 2019Time: 9:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: KLT

Type of Event: Book Launch

This path-breaking volume reveals a little-known aspect of how Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, a jihadist terrorist group, functions in Pakistan and beyond by translating and commenting upon a range of publications produced and disseminated by Dar-ul-Andlus, the publishing wing of LeT. Only a fraction of LeT's cadres ever see battle: most of them are despatched on nation-wide 'proselytising' (dawa) missions to convert Pakistanis to their particular interpretation of Islam, in support of which LeT has developed a sophisticated propagandist literature. This canon of Islamist texts is the most popular and potent weapon in LeT's arsenal, and its scrutiny affords insights into how and who the group recruits; LeT's justification for jihad; its vision of itself in global and regional politics; the enemies LeT identifies and the allies it cultivates; and how and where it conducts its operations. Particular attention is paid to the role that LeT assigns to women by examining those writings which heap extravagant praise upon the mothers of aspirant jihadis, who bless their operations and martyrdom.It is only by understanding LeT's domestic functions as set out in these texts that one can begin to appreciate why Pakistan so fiercely supports it, despite mounting international pressure to disband the group.

Professor C. Christine Fair is a Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor in the Security Studies Program within Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. She previously served as a senior political scientist with the RAND Corporation, a political officer with the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan in Kabul, and a senior research associate at the United States Institute of Peace. She is the author of In Their Own Words: Understanding Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (Hurst/Oxford University Press, 2018/2019). She has authored, co-authored and co-edited several books, including Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War (Oxford University Press); Pakistan’s Enduring Challenges (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015), Policing Insurgencies: Cops as Counterinsurgents (Oxford University Press, 2014); Political Islam and Governance in Bangladesh (Routledge, 2010); Treading on Hallowed Ground: Counterinsurgency Operations in Sacred Spaces (Oxford University Press, 2008); The Madrassah Challenge: Militancy and Religious Education in Pakistan (USIP, 2008), and The Cuisines of the Axis of Evil and Other Irritating States (Globe Pequot, 2008), among others.

Dr Matthew Nelson is a Reader in Politics at SOAS. His research focuses on the comparative and international politics of South Asia, with an emphasis on non-elite politics, comparative political thought, the politics of Islamic institutions, and democracy. Before coming to SOAS Dr Nelson taught at UC Santa Cruz, Bates College, and Yale University. Dr Nelson has spent several years conducting archival, ethnographic, and survey-based research in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India. His first book was titled In the Shadow of Shari‘ah: Islam, Islamic Law, and Democracy in Pakistan (Columbia, 2011); his current research focuses on comparative constitutional politics and the politics of sectarian and doctrinal diversity in Islamic law and education.

Dr Ayesha Siddiqa is author of 2 books including internationally acclaimed Military Inc – expertise in military decision-making, defence economics, civil-military relations and militancy and extremism in South Asia and the Middle East. She has also authored 12 book chapters and published over 300 articles in academic journals and opinion pieces in leading national & international outlets including The New York Times, Al-Jazeera, The Indian Express, The Hindu, The Dawn, Jane’s Defence Weekly, Kafila, Le Monde Diplomatique, The News, Tehelka, Himal, OpenDemocracy, Outlook India, Dawn, The Friday Times, Newsline and others. She is a regular contributor to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (APSI) Counter-Terrorism yearbook for 2018 & 2019. She is the only woman and civilian to work with Pakistan Navy as Director of Naval Research. She has worked as an Advisor to the Chairman of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) – Pakistan’s Anti-Corruption Watchdog. She has been associated with the Department of the Auditor General of Pakistan for ~ 10 years as part of Pakistan’s prestigious Civil Service.

Dr Walter Ladwig is a Senior Lecturer and part of the core faculty for the new BA in International Relations. He is also a visiting fellow in Asian Security at the Royal United Services Institution. He joined the department in 2013 from Oxford where he was a lecturer in the MPhil program in IR. Previously he held predoctoral fellowships at the Miller Center for Public Affairs at the University of Virginia, the Smith Richardson Foundation, and the RAND Corporation in Washington, D.C. He have a B.A. from the University of Southern California, an M.P.A. from Princeton University, and a PhD from the University of Oxford.

Dr Sarah Ashraf is a Research Manager at ISD. She has over 10 years’ experience in managing, gathering and analysing sensitive material with regards to insurgency, counter-insurgency, extremism, transnational jihadism and ideological underpinnings of various forms of radicalism. Sarah’s background specialism is in International Relations, CT, CVE, International History and global conflict studies. She has particular expertise in South Asia and the Middle East. She taught the Arab-Israeli conflict for 6+ years at the London School of Economics and Political Science and received the LSE Excellence in Teaching Award.

The event is open to attend without registration.

Organiser: CISD, SSAI

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Contact Tel: 020 7898 4322