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Lashkar founder spurs cadre to jihad

Islamabad, April 3 (Reuters): An Islamic militant leader in Pakistan said today he was urging followers to go to Iraq to fight a holy war against invading US and British forces.

The call came from Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, founder of the outlawed Lashkar-e-Toiba group, who said Muslim countries should also send their armies to fight the US and allied forces in Iraq.

“We consider the attack of America and its allies on Iraq as an attack on the Islamic world,” Saeed said today in his first interview since his release from jail four months ago.

“Jihad is an Islamic obligation and it is waged whenever an Islamic territory is attacked by non-Muslims or they try to occupy it.”

Iraq says more than 6,000 Arab volunteers have arrived in the country to battle US and British forces, half of them would-be suicide bombers.

Asked whether he would send militants to join war in Iraq, Saeed, who has tens of thousands of followers, replied, “We are inviting people and persuading them. We are telling Muslims that the only solution to this problem is jihad.” However, a source in the militant group said it was now difficult to travel to Iraq because of the war and no fighters had gone there from Pakistan. “In addition, we need Arabic-speaking volunteers, but hardly any Pakistani speaks Arabic,” he added.

Saeed officially quit the leadership of the Lashkar-e-Toiba weeks before it was banned and put on a US list of terrorist groups. He launched a new group, the Jamaat ud Dawaah which preaches Islam, holds rallies, runs schools, hospitals and publishes a monthly projecting its militant views.

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