Washington: The indictment of David Headley for involvement in planning the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks shows Pakistani terror group Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) too has global ambitions and is willing to undertake bold, mass-casualty operations, according to a top US counter-terrorism official.
"The example of David Headley shows al Qaeda is not the only group with global ambitions that we have to worry about," says Daniel Benjamin, coordinator, Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the State Department.
"Lashkar-e-Toiba has made it clear that it is willing to undertake bold, mass-casualty operations with a target set that would please al Qaeda planners," Benjamin said at the CATO Institute, a Washington think tank, this week.
"The group`s more recent thwarted conspiracy to attack the US embassy in Bangladesh should only deepen concern that it could indeed evolve into a genuinely global terrorist threat," he said.
"Very few things worry me as much as the strength and ambition of LeT, a truly malign presence in South Asia," Benjamin said, adding the US was "working closely with allies in the region and elsewhere to reduce the threat from this very dangerous group."
Headley`s indictment "portrays an American citizen allegedly playing a pivotal role in the 2008 attack in Mumbai, which killed more than 170 people and dramatically raised tensions in South Asia," he noted.
"Yes, our intelligence and law enforcement tripwires worked. But that is not reason enough for complacency. Because the threat we face is dynamic and evolving," Benjamin said.
The US official said the US now knows that "al Qaeda affiliates - not just the group`s core leadership in Pakistan - will indeed seek to carry out strikes against the US homeland," he said, warning "We can no longer count on them to be focused exclusively on the near enemy - on the governments in their own countries."
"In the last few months in two high-profile law-enforcement cases, individuals who appear to have been trained and handled from the badlands of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan have been operating within our borders," he noted.
Apart from Headley, a bus driver, Najibullah Zazi, was trained in Pakistan and now faces charges in federal court for planning to set off a series of bombs in the US.