US must realise LeT threat and eliminate it: Expert

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United States must realise the threat posed by Pakistan-based terrorist outfit Lashkar-e-Tayiba [ Images ] to its interests across the world, a leading expert has warned.

Citing the foiled attempt in Bangladesh to target US diplomatic missions in Dhaka in November last year, Bruce Riedel — a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Centre for Middle East Policy — wrote in The Daily Beast: ‘What is alarming about the Dhaka attack plan is that LeT has now crossed the threshold of directly targeting American interests. In Mumbai [ Images ], the group went after hotels and restaurants that catered to American visitors. In Dhaka, they planned to go after an American diplomatic facility. In short, we are now at war with Lashkar.’

Mohammad Motalem alias Majnu, a Bangladeshi operative of the Lashkar, was arrested from Dhaka’s Motijheel area on November 23, 2009. During his interrogation, Motalem revealed that the outfit was planning an attack on the Indian High Commission and US embassy in Dhaka. He also confessed that he had participated in the Afghan resistance against the Soviet forces in late 1980s.

According to Riedel, the outfit has cells in United Kingdom, Western Europe, Persian Gulf, Bangladesh and Nepal. It also has supporters and fundraisers in the US and Canada [ Images ].

‘We should encourage all of our partners in the counter-terror world to break up these cells and use any intelligence gained to undermine and weaken this threat. This is a good counterterrorism policy, a good policy for keeping India [ Images ] assured that we take their concerns seriously in the war on terror, and a good way to put pressure on Islamabad [ Images ] to finally take on Lashkar at home,’ he observed.

This is not the first time that Obama [ Images ] administration has been warned about India-focussed extremist outfits — having links with the Al Qaeda [ Images ] — training their guns on US interests.

Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee about Al Qaeda and US policy, Pulitzer Prize-winner journalist and writer, Steve Coll underlined that the repeated strikes on India by extremist groups like the LeT, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) will pose the biggest threat to the US’ interests in Afghanistan.

Coll said that the LeT has been recruiting highly educated people such as doctors and other postgraduate professionals in order to provide new and wider dimensions to its nefarious aims.

“The potential of these India-focused groups, with or without clandestine collaboration by Pakistani security forces to repeat or exceed the scale of the provocative attack carried out in Mumbai on November 26, 2008, presents, in my judgment, one of the most serious current threats to US interests in the complex of risks and dangers posed by Al Qaeda,” he added.

Coll also pointed out that despite repeated appeals from the US to take on the militants harder, the Pakistan Army [ Images ] is unlikely to act, as it lacks the will to do so.

January 28, 2010 17:26 IST

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