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'26\11 attacks show growing ability of LeT'
Lalit K Jha in Washington | March 11, 2009 17:21 IST
The Mumbai [Images] carnage shows the growing striking capabilities of terrorist outfit Lashkar-e-Tayiba [Images] and its ability to direct and execute terror attacks inside India, a senior US intelligence official said on Wednesday.
The statement by Lt General Michael Maples, Director, Defence Intelligence Agency of the US Army, in his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee comes a day after the State Department said Pakistan needs to do more in bringing the perpetrators of the Mumbai terrorist attack to justice.
Besides raising Indo-Pak tensions, the targeting of foreign nationals and Jewish interests, as well as the coordination and complexity of the operation, marked a departure from previous attacks and raised concerns in the region, Maples said.
In his remarks during the hearing Senator Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, said LeT is essentially a creation of ISI to conduct operations in Kashmir.
"So its relationship to the Pakistan intelligence service is very disturbing," Reid said.
"It (LeT) conducted the operations in Mumbai, but some have suggested that it poses a much, much broader threat, because of its ability to operate fairly openly in Pakistan because of its connections to many Pakistani nationals who reside outside of Pakistan in Europe and even in the United States," Reid said.
Dennis Blair, National Intelligence Director, who also testified before the Senate Committee agreed with the observation.
"I don't assess that it is replacing Al-Qaeda [Images] as a worldwide terrorist directed against Western American interests or shares the Al-Qaeda messianic ideology of a greater pan Islamic state and driving the conservative Muslim governments from power," Blair observed.
"I think it's much more directed than that, but it certainly has the capability and can still carry out acts which are against American interests," he said.
Responding to Senator Reed's queries, Maples said: "Saeed, who's the leader of LeT, does have a belief in the establishment of fundamentalist Islamic states and it has been very involved in Afghanistan with that as an intended purpose."
"I don't know that they have reached the level of another Al-Qaeda or replacement for Al-Qaeda but I think that beliefs are very similar in nature. I'd also believe that the Pakistani government, as the Director (Blair) has said, has distanced themselves from LeT in a statement -- some very significant actions in the recent past towards the organisation," he said.
Responding to another question from Senator McCaskill, Blair said the action after the Mumbai bombing, in particular, has been greater from Pakistan's point of view than many previous ones.
"So, I think that particular trend is positive, but it has a ways to go and it's not a simple progress," Blair said.