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US, West ignored threat potential of LeT before 26/11

world Updated: Nov 15, 2010 12:36 IST

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Prior to the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the US and Western countries quietly ignored the threat potential of LeT, despite having enough intelligence against the terrorist outfit and repeated assertion in this regard by India, according to an investigative report. This was primarily because the Pakistani leadership --ISI and army in particular -- were successful in convincing the West and US, which relied heavily on Islamabad on the war on terror in Afghanistan -- that LeT was solely focussed on India, including Kashmir, and had nothing to do with al-Qaeda and Taliban, the report by investigative American journalist Sebastian Rotella said.

As a result, LeT went on to develop itself as a potent threat not only to India but also to the US and European countries, said the report published jointly in 'The Washington Post' and 'ProPublica.Com', an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. The Bush Administration and western nations like Britain and France appeared convinced by the Pakistani argument and kept their eyes off the LeT all this while during which the terrorist outfit went on a hiring spree of foreigners like David Headley and planned attacks like those in Mumbai.

"It is a story of a militant group that used political clout and support from Pakistani security forces to develop global reach and formidable trade-craft," the investigative report said, citing investigators and court documents. "It is also a story of how, despite a series of warning signs, anti-terrorism agencies were caught off-guard when Lashkar (-e-Taiba) escalated its war on the West with a 2008 attack on Mumbai that targeted Americans, Europeans and Jews as well as Indians," Rotella wrote.

The investigative report said that in 2006, US counter-terrorism agencies still viewed LeT primarily as a threat to India. "But Headley's mentor, Sajid Mir, had widened his sights to Western targets years earlier. Mir, a mysterious Lashkar chief with close ties to Pakistani security forces, had deployed operatives who had completed missions and attempted plots in Virginia, Europe and Australia before being captured," Rotella wrote citing investigators and court documents.