India faces terror threat from Pak: US

A US report has said that India faces significant threats from Pakistani terror groups.

Washington: Facing persistent and significant external threats from groups including Pakistan based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad, and Harakat-ul-Jihad-i-Islami-Bangladesh, India remains one of the most terrorism afflicted nations,according to a new US report.

Although there were no large-scale assaults similar to the LeT led Nov 26, 2008, attacks in Mumbai, officials warned that "India remained at risk on the basis of the volume of credible threats the government continued to receive", the State Department said in its Congressionally mandated Country Reports on Terrorism 2009.

Noting that India was the focus of numerous attacks from both externally and internally based terrorist organizations, the report said: "Although clearly committed to combating terrorism, the Indian government`s counterterrorism efforts remained hampered by its outdated and overburdened law enforcement and legal systems."

In the wake of the Mumbai terrorist attacks, India`s parliament has introduced bills to restructure its counterterrorism laws and established a National Investigation Agency (NIA) to create a national-level capability to investigate and prosecute acts of terrorism, it said.

In neighbouring Pakistan, foreign terrorist organizations, including Al Qaeda and its affiliates, continued to operate and carry out attacks in Pakistan, the report released Thursday by counterterrorism coordinator, Daniel Benjamin, noted.

"The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Balochistan, the North West Frontier Province, southern Punjab, and other parts of Pakistan continued to be used as safe havens for Al Qaeda terrorists, Afghan insurgents, and other terrorist groups," it said.

Similar to last year, attacks occurred with greatest frequency in the regions bordering Afghanistan, including Balochistan, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP).

In Afghanistan, "the Taliban-led insurgency remained resilient in the south and east and expanded its presence into the north and west".

"Although the insurgency absorbed heavy combat and leadership losses, its ability to recruit foot soldiers from its core base of rural Pashtuns remained undiminished," the report said.

Al Qaeda provided some facilitation, training, and funding while maintaining its safe haven in Pakistan, it noted.

Separate but intertwined and affiliated extremist organizations led by Mullah Omar (Taliban), Sirajuddin Haqqani (Haqqani Network), and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin - HIG) increased their use of improvised explosive devices and coordinated attacks using multiple suicide bombers, resulting in an increase from 2008 in overall casualties, the report said.

Nepal`s instability could pose terrorist threat to India

The United States today warned
that the politial instability in Nepal could pose a serious
terrorist threat to India, which has sent a top envoy to
Kathmandu to help end the month-long constitutional crisis
over the election of a new prime minister.

Even though there is no indication that Nepal is a
safe haven for international terrorists, the United States
cautioned New Delhi that the continued instability in this
nascent democratic country could pose a serious terrorist
threat to India.

"There were no indications that Nepal was a safe haven
for international terrorists. Given Nepal’s continued
instability, however, there is a possibility that members of
extremist groups could transit Nepal, especially into India,"
said the State Department?s annual Congressionally-mandated
`Country Reports on Terrorism for the year 2009`.

The report warned that the porous border, the large
ungoverned space along the Nepal-Indian border and the
security deficiencies at the country`s only international
airport in the capital exacerbates this vulnerability.

"The large ungoverned space along the Nepal-Indian
border exacerbates this vulnerability, as do security
shortfalls at Tribhuvan Airport, Nepal`s international
airport," the State Department said.

In June, Lashkar-e Taiba (LeT) member Muhammad Omar
Madni traveled through Nepal enroute to New Delhi, the report

In its annual report, the State Department said while
Nepal experienced no significant acts of international
terrorism, several incidents of politically-motivated violence
occurred in the country.

"Maoist-affiliated Young Communist League (YCL)
criminal activity continued, including intimidation and
extortion. In response to the YCL violence, other political
parties condoned the use of violence by their youth wings," it

The report also warned that unrest in the Terai plains
bordering India remained high with the proliferation of
numerous armed criminal groups and an inadequate police

"Unrest in the southern Terai plains remained high
with the proliferation of numerous armed groups and an
inadequate police presence. More than 100 armed groups are
estimated to be operating in the Terai, some in pursuit of
independence or autonomy, most composed of opportunistic
criminal elements," it said.

LeT emergence adds new dimension to terror threat landscape

LeT`s emergence post 26/11
attacks has added a new dimension to the terrorist threat
landscape as the Pakistan-based terror outfit`s activities
have made clear its deepening commitment to undertake "bold
and mass-casualty operations" against US and western targets,
an official US report said today.

US State Department`s annual Congressionally-mandated
Country Reports on Terrorism for the year 2009 also said the
core of Al-Qaeda based in Pakistan continue to pose a major
threat to the US.

On the LeT, the report said: "Since the 2008 Mumbai
attack, analysts have deepening concern that it could evolve
into a genuine global threat. (LeT operative David) Headley
and others indicate the diversity, mobility, and versatility
of self-selecting recruits whom organisations can pick to meet
strategic goals."

"Organisations may set these goals, but their training
resources and recruits are increasingly modular and
interchangeable," the State Department said.

The report also noted that Headley, an American
citizen of Pakistani origin, has pleaded guilty in a US court
to crimes relating to his role in the 26/11 attacks and to
crimes relating to a separate plot to bomb the Danish
newspaper `Jyllands-Posten`.

On Al-Qaeda, the report said its core in Pakistan
remained the most formidable terrorist organization targeting
the US homeland.

"It has proven to be an adaptable and resilient
terrorist group whose desire to attack the United States and
US interests abroad remains strong,? it said.
The US intelligence community assessed that al-Qaida
was actively engaged in operational plotting against the US
and continued recruiting, training, and deploying operatives,
including individuals from Western Europe and North America.

"Moreover, al-Qaeda continued to try to expand its
operational capabilities by partnering with other terrorist
groups, with varying degrees of success," said the report in
its strategic assessment.

Noting that al-Qaeda suffered several significant
setbacks in 2009, the report said the group remained under
pressure in Pakistan due to Pakistani military operations
aimed at eliminating militant strongholds in the Federally
Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

With Agency Inputs

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