Laskhar as big a threat to US, Britain as Al Qaeda, CIA tells ObamaFebruary 8th, 2009 - 6:05 pm ICT by IANS
London, Feb 8 (IANS) The CIA has told President Barack Obama that British-born Pakistani terrorists, who have extensive contacts with Lashkar-e-Taiba, are the biggest threat to the US, the Sunday Telegraph reported.
American spy chiefs have told the president that the Central Intelligence Agency has launched a vast spying operation in Britain to prevent a repeat of the 9/11 attacks being launched from Britain, the paper said.
It said spy chiefs believe that a British-born Pakistani extremist entering the US under a current visa waiver programme for all Britons is the most likely source of another terrorist spectacular on American soil.
A former CIA officer who has advised Obama told The Sunday Telegraph that the CIA has stepped up its British operations after the November Mumbai massacre by the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which has an extensive web of supporters in Britain, and is now as big a threat to the US and Britain as the Al Qaeda.
Bruce Riedel told the paper: “The British Pakistani community is recognised as probably Al-Qaeda’s best mechanism for launching an attack against North America.”
“The Americans run their own assets in the Pakistani community; they get their own intelligence. There’s close cooperation with MI5 but they don’t tell us the names of all their sources.
“Around 40 percent of CIA activity on homeland threats is now in the UK. This is quite unprecedented,” he added.
Explaining the increase in CIA activity over the past month, Riedel added: “In the aftermath of the Mumbai attack the US and the UK intelligence services now have to regard Lashkar-e-Taiba as just as serious a threat to both of our countries as al-Qaeda.
“They have a much more extensive base among Pakistani diaspora communities in the UK than Al-Qaeda.”