US concerned over LeT’s expanding horizonsBy Arun Kumar, IANS
Thursday, February 17, 2011
WASHINGTON - The Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) has enough capabilities to launch a Mumbai-type terrorist strike in Europe and other parts of the world, say US officials concerned over expanding horizons of the Pakistan based terrorist outfit.
“What they did in India could theoretically be launched elsewhere. But we have not yet seen those steps occur,” Michael Leiter, director of the National Counter-terrorism Centre, told a Senate panel on intelligence.
While LeT has enough capabilities to launch a Mumbai-type terrorist strike in Europe and other parts of the world, Leiter said: “What we have not yet seen is a history of them doing so.”
“We are certainly concerned by some indicators we see of them expanding their horizons beyond the region. Certainly they have the capacity - it’s a large organisation,” he said.
“I think the additional point that I would stress is they can still be a very destabilising factor in the region,” Leiter said.
“So even without striking in the US or Europe, a further attack by Lashkar-e-Taiba in India would very much hurt our national security and our counterterrorism interests in Pakistan,” Leiter said in response to a question.
Turning to the terrorism situation in Pakistan, he said the US still sees the Al Qaeda in Pakistan as being at its weakest point since the Sep 11, 2001 terror attacks on the US.
“Some of that has to do with what the Pakistanis have done with the US; some of that is what they allow Americans to do,” he said. “But it is critical that we have really hurt Al Qaeda core in a very meaningful way.”
“That being said, there are certainly weaknesses in that cooperation at times, and in particular I think the ongoing dispute that you note about the Mumbai attackers, feeds into the tension between the two nations and can also undermine some of our counterterrorism efforts, not just at Al Qaeda but also Lashkar-e-Taiba,” Leiter said.
Ten terrorists from Pakistan sneaked into Mumbai Nov 26, 2008 and unleashed mayhem that left 166 people dead. One of the terrorists, Ajmal Amir Kasab, was arrested while the remaining nine were killed by security forces. The terror attack ended Nov 28.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)