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Pakistani militants expand abroad, starting in Bangladesh

Bangladesh has arrested suspected members of Lashkar-e-Taiba. The Pakistani militant group was blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks -- and some fear it could target India again and provoke regional tensions.

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One morning last November, police investigators scrambled up a hilltop in Chittagong, a sprawling port city in Bangladesh’s south. They had come to the redoubt of one of Chittagong’s most notorious madrasas. When the team informed local police it would be launching a raid, the local police refused to join in.

Bangladesh, the world’s third-largest Muslim nation, is familiar with militancy. Since 2005, police have battled a home-grown group called Jamatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) in its violent quest to impose Islamic law.

But this raid was different. The police say they’d learned that three men inside the stronghold were in contact with suspected militants in Pakistan and were planning to bomb the American, Indian, and British embassies in Dhaka. Working quickly, the team found the three men, along with two others, and pulled them out.

Only during interrogation did they discover just how international the group was – and how expansive its aims.

All of the men confessed to being operatives of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the Pakistan-based group blamed for the devastating 2008 Mumbai (Bombay) attacks and believed by American intelligence officials to be eying targets in the West. Two were Indian nationals. One, T. Nazeer, was Lashkar’s chief of South Asian operations.

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