LeT Could Attack India Again, Threaten US: Senator Kerry

By Arun Kumar

Washington, May 25 (IANS) Pakistan based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) blamed for the November 2008 Mumbai terror attack is capable of not only attacking India again, but also could threaten the US, an influential senator has said.

"Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad continue to launch attacks that risk sparking war between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan," Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said at a hearing of the panel Tuesday.

Highlighting the threat posed by LeT, he said the "group, responsible for the vicious Mumbai attacks of 2008" is capable of "destabilising the region with another attack against India".

"Through its extensive alumni organization and network of training camps throughout Pakistan, it could threaten the United States homeland" also, Kerry said at the hearing on Al Qaeda, the Taliban and other extremist groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Richard Lugar, the top Republican on the panel, said despite the death of Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups maintain a strong presence in Pakistan

"There's no question that the threat of these groups, combined with worries about state collapse, a Pakistani war with India, the safety of the Pakistan nuclear arsenal and Pakistan's intersection with other states in the region, make it a strategically vital country, worth the cost of engagement," he said.

Testifying before the panel, Christine Fair, assistant professor at the Centre for Peace and Security Studies at Georgetown University, said LeT was just one of militant groups raised and nurtured by Pakistan, to operate in India and in Afghanistan.

While Pakistan has taken on some militant groups that are part of the Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda, "it has only marginally and cosmetically acted" against LeT, she said detailing the various ways in which the state continues to support the terror group.

Peter Bergen, director of the National Security Studies Programme at the New America Foundation, said Al Qaeda was being protected by the Haqqani network.

But as long as Pakistani army chief's "main concern remains India. And he sees Afghanistan as a source of Indian strength, he may not want to take the Haqqani card off the table".


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