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Headley-Rana case shows LeT's global ambitions: US

world Updated: Dec 10, 2009 10:45 IST

The unearthing of the Headley -Rana case by the FBI shows the global ambition of LeT, a top Obama Administration official has said, adding that the radicals continue to galvanise enough people to launch "mass casualty" terrorist attacks.

The FBI arrested Tahawwur Rana and another American citizen David Coleman Headley last month on charges of plotting terror attacks in India and Denmark.

"The example of David Headley indicates, al-Qaida is not the only group with global ambitions that we have to worry about," said Daniel Benjamin, Coordinator, and Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, at the State Department.

Lashkar e-Taiba has made it clear that it is willing to undertake bold, "mass-casualty operations with a target set that would please al-Qaeda planners", Benjamin said in his speech at the Jamestown on 'International Counterterrorism Policy in the Obama Administration'.

The group's more recent thwarted conspiracy to attack the US embassy in Bangladesh should only deepen concern that it could evolve into a genuinely global terrorist threat.

"Let me say as an aside, very few things worry me as much as the strength and ambition of LeT, a truly malign presence in South Asia.

We are working closely with allies in the region and elsewhere to reduce the threat from this very dangerous group," Benjamin said.

The State Department official said Sunni radicals continue to succeed is in persuading religious extremists to adopt their cause, even in the United States.

"A bus driver, Najibullah Zazi, was trained in Pakistan and now faces charges in federal court for planning to set off a series of bombs in the United States, he said.

An indictment that was unsealed Monday in Chicago portrays an American citizen-David Headley-playing a pivotal role in last year's attack in Mumbai, which killed more than 170 people and dramatically raised tensions in South Asia," he said.

So even if this radical movement is not mobilising the masses, it is still galvanising enough people to take to violence and poses a continuing, powerful threat, he noted.

The importance of these two cases should not be glossed over-the conspiracies these men were engaged in had roots in the FATA, and eight years after 9/11, should give us all pause. The threat to the US remains substantial and enduring despite the operational constraints on al-Qaeda central," Benjamin said.

He worked on terrorism in the White House when al-Qaeda first surfaced in the late 1990s. "I can tell you now, after having access to the intelligence again, that the threat has become far more complicated due to the proliferation of groups and the cross-pollination of networks.

The global radical milieu has become thicker. There is so much more that we have to keep tabs on than there was in 1999," he said.