`Pakistan`s LeT threat to US, India`

India believes the LeT and ISI staged the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008.

Washington: The Pakistan-based Islamic militant group blamed for the assault on Mumbai could also pose a threat to the United States, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said on Thursday.

Napolitano, who visited India last week for talks on anti-terrorism, renewed her assertion that Lashkar-e-Toiba -- which means `The Army of the Pure` in Urdu -- was in the same league as al Qaeda in US eyes.

"LeT is a potent terrorist organisation. It could be construed as a threat to the United States. It certainly is to India," Napolitano said.

"It is al Qaeda-like in its strength and organisation," she said at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think-tank.

India believes the LeT and the Pakistani intelligence service staged the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, which left 166 people dead and severely strained relations between the nuclear-armed South Asian rivals.

David Coleman Headley, a Pakistani American who admitted scouting sites for the Mumbai attacks, has testified in a trial in Chicago that Pakistan`s Inter-Services Intelligence has supported the LeT despite an official ban on the group.

Napolitano stayed tight-lipped about her talks with India on Lashkar-e-Toiba but said that her counterparts did not ask her specifically to ask Pakistan to turn over suspects in the Mumbai assault.

"The United States believes that it is in everyone`s interest for India and Pakistan to be able to work together," she said.

Relations between India and the United States, the world`s two largest democracies, have improved rapidly in the past decade. But many Indian policymakers are uneasy about the close US cooperation with Pakistan.

Bureau Report

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