US military chief fears another 26/11 on India

July 22nd, 2010 - 7:57 pm ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, July 22 (IANS) The US’ top military official fears a possible repeat of a Mumbai type terror attack on India by Pakistan based terror outfits to provoke another conflict between the two nuclear armed nations.

“One of the things that struck me then, and is still a great concern, is how 10 terrorists could drive two nuclear-armed nations closer to conflict,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen told reporters travelling with him on his way to India.

“There is the possibility of some kind of miscalculation in response to an attack such as the one in Mumbai,” he said, adding he was particularly concerned about the Laskar-e Taiba (LeT) terror group blamed for the November 2008 Mumbai attack.

“I see them starting to emerge as a larger, regional, global threat,” Mullen was quoted as saying by the US Defence Department.

“One of the things I’ve watched in the FATA, in the region between Pakistan and in Afghanistan, is the merging of these terrorist organizations,” he said.

Mullen, who was in New Delhi a few days after the terror attack in Mumbai, said he was impressed by Indian restraint during and immediately after the attack.

Counter-terrorism will be the main discussion with Indian leaders, Mullen said. “The United States and India have shared interests that are tied specifically to counter-terrorism,” he said. “We’ve both been attacked and lost precious citizens.”

Working together to blunt and to end the terrorist threat is one impetus to working together. Indian military leaders “are also very focused on how we share what we have learned,” the chairman said.

The military-to-military relationship between the US and India has grown dramatically in the past 20 years, Mullen said and he wants to keep the process on track.

Mullen will follow his visit to India with one to Pakistan as the US has military-to-military contacts with both countries.

While the US military is not a bridge between the two nations, “it is important that we remain engaged,” Mullen said. “Certainly there is an opportunity to have discussions across the region and we will work our way through to a much more stable future.”

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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