Washington: With the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai revealing Lashkar-e-Taeba`s (LeT) global ambitions, the Pakistan-based terror outfit remains a serious threat to Western interests too, says a new US report on global terrorism.
"Since the 2008 Mumbai attack, analysts have deepening concern that it could evolve into a genuine global threat," the report released Thursday warned noting Pakistan`s lack of action against those responsible for the attacks had stalled India-Pakistan peace talks.
LeT "has proven to be an adaptable and resilient terrorist group whose desire to attack the United States and US interests abroad remains strong," said the congressionally mandated Country Reports on Terrorism 2009 released by counterterrorism coordinator, Daniel Benjamin.
Noting that a Pakistani American citizen, David Headley, has pleaded guilty in a US court to crimes relating to his role in the LeT led attacks in Mumbai, the report said "the Lashkar e-Taeba connection has added a further dimension to the terrorist threat landscape."
"Its activities have made clear its deepening commitment to undertake bold, mass-casualty operations against American and other Western targets," the report warned.
"Despite international condemnation for its Nov 2008 Mumbai attacks, LeT continued to plan regional operations from within Pakistan, it said describing LeT as "an extremely capable terrorist organization with a sophisticated regional network."
"It continued to view American interests as legitimate targets. While the Government of Pakistan has banned LeT, it needs to take further action against this group and its front organizations, which find safe haven within Pakistan," the report said.
In response to allegations of involvement by LeT in the Mumbai attacks, Pakistani officials cracked down on an LeT camp in Muzzafarabad and arrested or detained more than 50 LeT or JUD leaders in Punjab and elsewhere in Pakistan, but it subsequently released many of them, the report noted.
Thus "LeT remained a serious threat to Western interests," it said while noting "peace talks between Pakistan and India remained frozen amid Indian allegations that Pakistan was not doing enough to bring the terrorists to justice."
Despite increased efforts by Pakistani security forces, "Al Qaeda terrorists, Afghan militants, foreign insurgents, and Pakistani militants continued to find safe haven in portions of Pakistan`s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), and Baluchistan," the report said.
Al Qaeda and other groups such as the Haqqani Network used the FATA to launch attacks in Afghanistan, plan operations worldwide, train, recruit, and disseminate propaganda, it noted
The Pakistani Taliban (under the umbrella moniker Tehrik-e-Taliban orTTP) also used the FATA to plan attacks against the civilian and military targets across Pakistan.
Outside the FATA, the Quetta-based Afghan Taliban and separate insurgent organizations such as Hizb-e-Islami Gulbuddin used the areas in Baluchistan and the NWFP for safe haven, the report said.
Islamist Deobandi groups and many local tribesmen in the FATA and the NWFP continued to resist the government`s efforts to improve governance and administrative control, it said.
Despite the August death of the Pakistani Taliban`s leader Baitullah Mehsud and Pakistani military operations throughout the FATA and NWFP, "the Pakistani Taliban, Al Qaeda, and other extremist groups remained dangerous foes to Pakistan and the international community," the report warned.
Unlicensed informal hawalas (money changers) still operated illegally in parts of Pakistan with the informal and secretive nature making it difficult for regulators to effectively combat their operations.