The US State Department, in its latest Country Reports on Terrorism 2009, has underscored how the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba, the group behind the Mumbai terror attacks of 26/11, has become a major international threat within the past few months.
In the previous year’s report, in the section devoted to strategic assessment, the LeT did not merit a mention. But it gets plenty of attention in the assessment this time around.
The new assessment says: “The Lashkar-e-Tayyeba connection has added a further dimension to the terrorist threat landscape since its activities have made clear its deepening commitment to undertake bold, mass-casualty operations against American and other Western targets. Since the 2008 Mumbai attack, analysts have deepening concern that it could evolve into a genuine global threat.”
The perception that the epicenter of global terror remains in Pakistan has not changed.
The report said, “In 2009, Al Qaeda’s core in Pakistan remained the most formidable terrorist organisation targeting the US homeland.” Even a year earlier, the assessment had focused upon how the Al Qaeda was deriving many of the benefits in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas or FATA region of Pakistan that it once did in Afghanistan.
But the Lashkar motif is a new component of the overall assessment. The report discusses David Coleman Headley, the Pakistani-American LeT operative considered by Indian intelligence to be one of the planners of 26/11. “Headley and others indicate the diversity, mobility, and versatility of self-selecting recruits whom organisations can pick to meet strategic goals. Organisations may set these goals, but their training resources and recruits are increasingly modular and interchangeable,” the report said.
The report was released by the State Department’s Counter Terrorism Coordinator Daniel Benjamin.
The report noted that India is among the countries “most afflicted” by terrorism with over 1000 related deaths in 2009, and is the target of terror groups like the LeT, Jaish-e-Mohammad, and Harakat-ul-Jihad-i-Islami-Bangladesh.
India’s efforts to battle terrorism were criticised: “Although clearly committed to combating terrorism, the Indian government‘s counterterrorism efforts remained hampered by its outdated and overburdened law enforcement and legal