Jim Kouri
Pakistani terrorists may launch more Mumbai-style attacks, says U.S. official
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By Jim Kouri
February 27, 2011

Away from news reporters and cameras, U.S. counterterrorism and intelligence officials and experts are not as positive about existing conditions in Pakistan. For example, on Friday one U.S. government security official spoke of his concern over the growing power and strength of the Pakistani terrorist organization Lashkar-i-Taiba (LeT) — or Army of the Pure.

During his Senate testimony, Michael Leiter, the current Director of the National Counterterrorism Center warned a panel of senators that the LeT terrorist group have acquired capabilities to launch Mumbai-type attacks in Europe and the rest of the world.

Speaking before the U.S. Senate Committee on Intelligence, Leiter claimed to notice "some indicators that pointed to the LeT expanding its network beyond Pakistan."

On November 26, 2008 about a dozen armed terrorists attacked a number of targets throughout India. The assailants killed or wounded hundreds of innocent people. According to U.S. police sources, who responded to the crime scenes as observers, 200 people were killed in multiple, coordinated attacks, including 19 foreigners.

Three days later, Indian commandos ended an intense terrorist attack on the city of Mumbai, killing the terrorists who hid inside a luxury hotel that was the final battleground of a terrorist siege.

Lashkar-e-Taiba is the armed wing of the Pakistan-based religious organization, Markaz-ud-Dawa-wal-Irshad (MDI) — a Sunni anti-US missionary organization formed in the 1980s to oppose the Soviets in Afghanistan. LeT arose in the early 1990s as the armed wing of the Markaz-ud Dawa-wal-Irshad.

The LeT is led by Abdul Wahid Kashmiri and is one of the three largest and best-trained groups fighting in Kashmir against India; it is not connected to a political party. Elements of LeT and Jaish-e-Mohammed combined with other groups to mount attacks as "The Save Kashmir Movement."

U.S. lawmakers have been critical of Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) its refusal to extradite to India's authorities the captured suspects who launched the deadly Mumbai attacks in 2008. Among the suspects India has identified is the leader of the November 26, 2008 attacks, LeT operations commander Zakiur Rahman Lakhvi.

Examples of recent major terror attacks include a coordinated series of bombings in market and temple areas of the tourist city of Jaipur, Rajasthan (May 2008), an attack on a government paramilitary facility in Uttar Pradesh (December 2007), coordinated bomb blasts at court facilities in three cities in Uttar Pradesh (November 2007), and an explosives blast in a cinema hall in Punjab (November 2007).

Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the media on Thursday that Washington's strategic partnership with Islamabad has resulted in the al-Qaeda top leadership in the region being considerably weakened and under greater pressure than at any time since the war in Afghanistan in 2001.

Mullen also said that "the United States [should] take measures to ensure better ties between India and Pakistan in order to alleviate the environment of mistrust and animosity between the neighboring countries."

Leiter informed the lawmakers that the death and destruction that resulted from the Mumbai terrorist attack could happen anywhere. He also noted that while the LeT is not as well-known as al-Qaeda or Al Shabaab, it is still a "very destabilizing factor in the region."

"So even without striking in the U.S. or Europe, a further attack by the LeT in India would very much hurt our national security and our counter-terrorism interests in Pakistan," Leiter warned.

The group also recruits internationally, as evidenced by the indictment of eleven LeT terrorists in Virginia in 2003. Also, in July 2006, an Atlanta, Georgia, federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Syed Haris Ahmed and Ehsanul Islam Sadequee with conspiring to provide and providing material support to terrorists and to a designated foreign terrorist organization.

LeT and its leader Hafiz Saeed continue to spread ideology advocating armed jihad, as well as virulent rhetoric condemning the United States, India, Israel, and other perceived enemies, according to Global Security

However, LeT has yet to conduct an international terrorist attack outside India or Kashmir. Terrorist incidents causing fewer casualties occur on a frequent basis in India, including a few in which American citizens were injured. The motive for many of these attacks has not been clearly established, although it is believed that U.S. citizens and foreigners in general were not specifically targeted in these attacks.

© Jim Kouri

 

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Jim Kouri

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police... (more)

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