Lashkar could become like Hamas in Pakistan: US spy chief
Washington: Identifying Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) as the most problematic of the terrorist groups inside Pakistan, a top American spy chief on Tuesday said that the outfit has the potential to evolve into a permanent Hamas or Hezbollah-like presence in the strife-torn country.
"Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) will continue to be the most multifaceted and problematic of the Pakistani militant groups," James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence (DNI) told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing.
"The group has the long-term potential to evolve into a permanent and even Hamas or Hezbollah-like presence in Pakistan," Clapper said in his testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, during which he gave the intelligence community`s assessment of the threat being faced by the United States.
The LeT led by Hafiz Saeed has been active in Jammu and Kashmir and has executed many terror strikes including the Mumbai attacks in 2008.
Observing that terrorist threats are in a transition period as the global jihadist movement becomes increasingly decentralised, Clapper said due to senior personnel losses in 2012, amplifying losses and setbacks since 2008, the core of al-Qaeda has degraded to a point that the group is probably unable to carry out complex, large-scale attacks in the West.
"However, the group has held essentially the same strategic goals since its initial public declaration of war against the United States in 1996, and to the extent that the group endures, its leaders will not abandon the aspiration to attack inside the United States," he said.
Clapper noted that the Arab Spring has generated a spike in threats to US interests in the region that likely will endure until political upheaval stabilises and security forces regain their capabilities.
"We also face uncertainty about potential threats from Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah, which see the United States and Israel as their principal enemies," he said.
According to him, attacks on US soil will remain part of al-Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula`s (AQAP) transnational strategy; the group continues to adjust its tactics, techniques and procedures for targeting the West.
"AQAP leaders will have to weigh the priority they give to US plotting against other internal and regional objectives, as well as the extent to which they have individuals who can manage, train, and deploy operatives for US operations," Clapper said.
Al-Qaeda-inspired homegrown violent extremists (HVE) -- whom the US intelligence community assesses will continue to be involved in fewer than 10 domestic plots per year-will be motivated to engage in violent action by global jihadist propaganda.
These include English-language material, such as AQAP`s Inspire magazine; events in the United States or abroad perceived as threatening to Muslims; the perceived success of other HVE plots, such as the November 2009 attack at Fort Hood, Texas, and the March 2012 attacks by an al-Qaeda-inspired extremist in Toulouse, France; and their own grievances, Clapper said.
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