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'Pak terror groups a threat to US'

US Intelligence chief has termed India a "reliable ally" in the fight against terrorism, reports S Rajagopalan.

india Updated: Feb 04, 2006 01:35 IST
S. Rajagopalan
S. Rajagopalan

The United States has warned that Pakistani militant groups that are active in Kashmir are a "persistent threat" not only to South Asian stability, but to American interests as well in the region.

In a testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, National Intelligence Director John Negroponte termed India a "reliable ally" in the fight against global terrorism. This is party due to the fact that India has been "a frequent target for Islamic terrorists, mainly in Kashmir," he said.

As Negroponte put it, some of the Pakistan-based militants posed a "potential threat" to US interests worldwide as well. He referred to the conviction of some Lashkar-e-Tayyeba activists in Virginia in 2003 for providing material support to the group's activities in Kashmir.

He also pointed out that another band of Islamic extremists in California were found to have connections with Pakistani militant groups. These men — US citizens of Pakistani origin — trained at radical Karachi madrassas and reportedly raised funds for international jehadist groups.

As for Pakistan, Negroponte commented that the country was a frontline ally in the war on terror but at the same time a major source of extremism as well.

The upshot of this curious mix is the threat that Pakistan-based groups pose to India, Afghanistan, the United States and to President Pervez Musharraf himself.

The US intelligence chief told lawmakers that terrorism "remains the pre-eminent threat to our citizens, to our homeland and to our interests abroad".

Al Qaeda continues to top the list of threats, despite the fact that "much" of its 2001 leadership has been eliminated and its cadres depleted.

Negroponte conceded that the organisation's "core elements still plot and make preparations for terrorist strikes from bases in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border area".

Noting that Al Qaeda has benefited from its merger with Abu Musab Al Zarqawi's network in Iraq, he said this development has broadened the appeal of Osama bin Laden's outfit within the jihadist community and potentially put new resources at its disposal.

As for the challenges in the war on terror, he said "the most dramatic change of all is the exponential increase in the number of targets we must identify, track and analyse".

Analysts must pay attention not only to unfriendly national governments, but also to terrorist groups, proliferation networks, alienated communities, charismatic individuals, narco-traffickers and microscopic influenza, he said.

First Published: Feb 04, 2006 01:35 IST