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LeT more dangerous than Al Qaeda: Former CIA official

July 10, 2012 16:21 IST
With the Al Qaeda on the back foot, Hafeez Saeed-founded Lashkar-e-Tayiba has emerged as the world's most dangerous terror group and has connections with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence and army, a former senior Central Investigation Agency officer has said.

The November 2008 attack by 10 LeT terrorists on multiple targets in Mumbai was the most significant and innovative terrorist attack since 9/11, Bruce Riedel, senior fellow foreign policy at Brookings Institution, a Washington based think tank, wrote in The Daily Beast. He however noted that more than three years after the attack, the LeT has paid no serious price.

"It (Mumbai attacks) marked the maturation of the LeT from a Punjabi-based Pakistani terror group targeting India exclusively to a member of the global Islamic jihad targeting the enemies of the Al Qaeda: the crusader West, Zionist Israel, and Hindu India," he said.

He also referred to the arrest of LeT terrorist Abu Jundal and noted it was a major breakthrough. He said Saudi role in capturing Jundal is also "significant".

"Riyadh is Islamabad's closest ally and the ISI has very strong links with its Saudi counterparts. The Pakistani community in the Kingdom and the Gulf states has long been a major source of the LeT's finances," he said.

If the Kingdom is now ready to act against the LeT then the group will face some financial trouble, Ridel said. "But not yet trouble at home. More than three years after the attack, the LeT has been sanctioned by the United Nations and the United States but has paid no serious price for its attack in Mumbai. It operates freely in Pakistan and has continuing connections with the Pakistani intelligence service and army," he said.

Riedel added that LeT founder and leader Hafeez Saeed has a $10 million bounty on his head from the US, but regularly appears on Pakistani television and routinely addresses large anti-American rallies "organised with the help of the ISI".

"The LeT has a global presence, with cells throughout South Asia, the Persian Gulf, and into Europe, Australia and North America.

"With the Al Qaeda on the ropes, the LeT, with the help of its Pakistani backers, is now probably the most dangerous terror group in the world," he said.


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