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Lashkar acts as a secret police for Al Qaeda, says report

August 04, 2003 17:51 IST

The Lashkar-e-Tayiba is acting as a 'secret police' for the Taliban and Al Qaeda, American and Indian intelligence officials say.

A US congressional paper on homeland security quotes former officers of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Indian agencies as saying that the recent arrest of eleven men in Virginia, allegedly connected with the Lashkar, raises the prospects of 'a new terrorist threat in the United States'.

A special report in the congressional quarterly homeland security quotes the FBI's former deputy assistant director for counterintelligence, Harry B 'Skip' Brandon, as saying that

Kashmiri terrorists, who used to raise funds in America earlier for the fight back home, switched over to providing 'other material support' to the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Brandon says the US intelligence 'are not just focussed on the Taliban and Al Qaeda, but also groups affiliated to them'.

The paper quotes Selig Harrison, head of Asia Project at Washington-based Centre for International Policy, as saying that before the 9/11 attacks, 'I was told by a top source in the state department that the Lashkar was serving (as) a secret police function for the Taliban'.

The report quotes former additional secretary in Cabinet Secretariat B Raman as saying that the Lashkar headquarters at Muridke (Pakistan) had 'a guesthouse and a mosque constructed with funds provided by Osama bin Laden'.

"Before he fell foul of the US, Laden stayed in this guesthouse during his visits to Pakistan," Raman says.

He further says the Lashkar is 'building up its clandestine infrastructure in the US and will continue to do so'.

Regarding chances that the Lashkar will participate in an attack on the US, Brandon says, "It is not outside the realm of possibility that it could pose a threat to US homeland security. If you had asked me four or five years ago, I would have said it was highly unlikely as they are interested only in Kashmir.

"But radical Islamic terrorism has given things a new twist and the authorities are gradually seeing a blurring of the lines between terrorist groups."

While Raman feels they will themselves not participate in an attack on the US 'for the present', Teresita Schaffer, director of South Asia programme at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, says her impression is that the Lashkar is 'more interested in their own homeland'.

Raman, however, warns that the outfit will continue to 'guide, train, fund and coordinate other members of Laden's International Islamic Front and Al Qaeda remnants wanting to launch attacks in the US without directly coming into the picture itself'.

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