`US, West ignored threat of LeT before 26/11`

Prior to the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the US and Western countries quietly ignored the threat potential of LeT, claimed a report.

Updated: Nov 15, 2010, 11:49 AM IST

Washington: Prior to the 2008 Mumbai
attacks, the US and Western countries quietly ignored the threat potential of LeT, despite having enough intelligence against the terrorist outfit and repeated assertion in this
regard by India, according to an investigative report.

This was primarily because the Pakistani leadership --
ISI and army in particular -- were successful in convincing
the West and US, which relied heavily on Islamabad on the war
on terror in Afghanistan -- that LeT was solely focussed on
India, including Kashmir, and had nothing to do with al-Qaeda
and Taliban, the report by investigative American journalist
Sebastian Rotella said.

As a result, LeT went on to develop itself as a potent
threat not only to India but also to the US and European
countries, said the report published jointly in `The
Washington Post` and `ProPublica.Com`, an independent,
non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in
the public interest.

The Bush Administration and western nations like Britain
and France appeared convinced by the Pakistani argument and
kept their eyes off the LeT all this while during which the
terrorist outfit went on a hiring spree of foreigners like
David Headley and planned attacks like those in Mumbai.

"It is a story of a militant group that used political
clout and support from Pakistani security forces to develop
global reach and formidable trade-craft," the investigative
report said, citing investigators and court documents.
"It is also a story of how, despite a series of warning
signs, anti-terrorism agencies were caught off-guard when
Lashkar (-e-Taiba) escalated its war on the West with a 2008
attack on Mumbai that targeted Americans, Europeans and Jews
as well as Indians," Rotella wrote.

The investigative report said that in 2006, US
counter-terrorism agencies still viewed LeT primarily as a
threat to India.
"But Headley`s mentor, Sajid Mir, had widened his sights
to Western targets years earlier. Mir, a mysterious Lashkar
chief with close ties to Pakistani security forces, had
deployed operatives who had completed missions and attempted
plots in Virginia, Europe and Australia before being
captured," Rotella wrote citing investigators and court
documents.

PTI