ISI-nurtured Lashkar-e-Taiba extends jihad campaign from India to US, Europe: Report

March 13th, 2011 - 12:36 pm ICT by ANI  

Taliban Washington, Mar 13(ANI): Pakistan’s security establishment nurtured militant organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba for years as a proxy force to attack targets and enemies in India, but US officials, who earlier dismissed it as a regional problem, are now convinced that the terror outfit has extended its jihad campaign against the US, Europe, and foreign troops in Afghanistan.

American officials are now convinced that Lashkar is no longer satisfied with being the shadowy foot soldiers in Pakistan’s simmering border conflict with India, its goals have broadened, and the militant organisation is committed to a campaign of jihad against the United States and Europe, and against American troops in Afghanistan, The New York Times reports.

A group that Pakistan has seen for years as an essential component of its own national security, and that American counterterrorism officials could once dismiss as a regional problem, has emerged as a threat that Washington feels it can no longer ignore, the report said.

Given such a fundamental collision of interests, it was perhaps inevitable that Lashkar would one day provoke tensions between Pakistani and American security officials, and the collision itself would come into full public view, as seen in the Raymond Davis case.

According to US officials, the CIA team with which Davis worked had the task of secretly gathering intelligence about Lashkar-e-Taiba among its assignments, the report said.

Because Lashkar has long been nurtured by Pakistan’s spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), American espionage operations against the group are freighted with grave risks, and are not viewed kindly by Pakistani spies, it added.

For most of its history, Lashkar has limited its attacks to India- especially the Kashmir region- the targets that would serve the interests of its ISI benefactors, but US intelligence officials believe that hundreds of Lashkar operatives now operate inside Afghanistan, and have teamed with other militant groups to attack American troops there, the report said.

Also, the Obama administration’s signals that it would like to get out of Afghanistan as soon as possible have led Pakistan’s military and intelligence officers to believe that they should keep groups like LeT and the Haqqani network under their wing for future operations in Afghanistan and India, the report added.

Seth G. Jones, a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation, compared the expansion of Lashkar’s operations with the broadening ambitions of the Pakistani Taliban.

Jones, who worked on Afghanistan and Pakistan issues for United States Special Operations Command until last month, said that a Lashkar attack on the West could have more far-reaching consequences than one by the Taliban, as then Washington would undoubtedly lay blame for the attack on the ISI’s doorstep.

“There is a recognition that because of Lashkar’s associations, an attack on the United States could wind up causing the Pakistani government extreme pain,” said Jones, implying the possibility of using military force deep within Pakistan. (ANI)

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