LeT undertakes major expansion in Afghanistan

Pakistan based militant group LeT, responsible for the 26/11 Mumbai carnage, has expanded its operations in Afghanistan.

New York: Pakistan based militant group
Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), responsible for the 26/11 Mumbai
carnage, has expanded its operations in Afghanistan, setting
up new training camps with an aim to hit Afghan, international
as well as Indian targets.

The Let`s expansion in Afghanistan has prompted
suspicions in Washington and among NATO allies that it is part
of Pakistan`s game plan to have proxy forces at hand to shape
the outcome in Kabul after the American troops begin their
withdrawal in July next year.

Pakistan has also continued to allow Afghan Taliban
leaders and other militant groups fighting the US and NATO
forces to base themselves in Pakistan. " The intent seems to
be retain ties to those who might one day return to power in
Afghanistan or exercise influence there," New York Times

"Its inroads in Afghanistan provide a fresh indication of
its growing ambition to confront India even beyond Kashmir,
for which Pakistan`s military and intelligence services
created the group as a proxy force decades ago," Times said.

The paper quoting a senior NATO intelligence official
said," the LeT are now active in six to eight provinces in
Afghanistan, a big leap from hardly any presence five years

NYT quoting intelligence officers and diplomats said that LeT
is believed to have planned and executed three major attacks
against Indians in recent months.

"It continues to track Indians in Afghanistan and is on
the look out for more attacks against them," the paper said.
One indication of LeT`s presence in Afghanistan came on
April 8, when a joint US-Afghan Special Operation force killed
nine militants and captured one after a firefight in Nangarhar
province in Eastern Afghanistan.

All of them were Pakistanis and " a concentration of them
were LeT," the Times said quoting a senior American military

The paper said LeT is believed to have orchestrated the
Feb 26 car bombing and suicide attack on two guest houses in
the heart of Kabul frequented by Indians. An attack on a
shopping centre and a bank in downtown Kabul in January also
suggested Lashkar influence.

Both attacks bore some resemblances to those in Mumbai,
New York Times said. They involved meticulous planning and
multiple targeting and the attackers were coordinated by
people outside the country on cell phones.

Witnesses told investigators that the attackers came in
shouting, "Where is the head Indian doctor?"

Hanif Atmar, the interior minister who resigned this
month, said at least two of the attackers had been speaking
Urdu. "They were not Afghans," he said.

What we know for sure is that it was planned, financed,
organized, and that people trained for it, outside

"Over the past six months more than four attacks in Kabul
had suicide bombers with telephones that we recovered with
active numbers that were from Pakistan, he added.

The New York based daily also noted that Lashkar, along
with Afghan extremist groups, was also believed to be involved
in the Oct. 8, 2009, attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul and
the Dec. 15 attack in front of the Heetal Hotel.

"They are currently most interested in Indian targets
here, but they can readily trade attacks on international
targets for money or influence or an alliance with other
groups," an American military official told the paper.

LeT`s capabilities, terrorism experts say, have grown in
recent years, since the group relocated many of its operations
to Pakistan`s tribal areas, where it trades intelligence,
training and expertise with other militant groups including al
Qaeda, the Taliban and the insurgent network run by Siraj
Haqqani, also a long time asset of Pakistan.

NYT quoting intelligence official also reported that some
factions of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which means " army of the
pure" has broken from their one time handlers and are working
more independently.

Quoting experts, the Time said that LeT now presents more
of a threat in Afghanistan than even al Qaeda, because its
operatives are from the region, less resented than the Arabs
who make up al Qaeda`s ranks.

Times said a recent Pentagon report to Congress listed
LeT as one of the growing major international terrorism