Washington, Aug 1: Even as western strikes have weakened the Al Qaeda core in Pakistan, the terror group’s affiliates are still increasing “operational capabilities”, with no decrease in the strength of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), responsible for the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, a US report on terrorism warns.
In a scathing criticism of its key ally, a top US counter-terrorism official said despite calls for more action by Islamabad he had not seen any decrease in strength of Pakistan based LeT and “the threat to stability in South Asia that it poses”.
“We’ve urged Pakistan to take more action against Lashkar-e-Taiba,” Daniel Benjamin, coordinator for counter-terrorism, told reporters Tuesday in a special briefing on the US State Department’s annual terrorism report.
“We’d certainly like to see more progress on that trial regarding the atrocities in Mumbai,” he said, noting that LeT “remains a major concern on the terrorist landscape, without a doubt.”
The State Department report itself also warned that “terrorist opponents of better Indian-Pakistan relations, such as the LeT, have long planned to derail any progress by launching new attacks”.
Sporadic violence in Kashmir and attempted infiltrations from Pakistani territory across the Line of Control also remained serious concerns for the Indian government, it said.
The report noted that India has increased its counter-terrorism capacity building efforts and cooperation with the international community, including the US.
While the number of deaths attributable to terrorist violence in India in 2011 was lower than in 2010, the loss of over 1,000 lives “still made India one of the world’s most terrorism-afflicted countries and one of the most persistently targeted countries by transnational terrorist groups such as LeT”.
The report counted more than 10,000 terrorist attacks in 70 countries in 2011, which resulted in more than 12,500 deaths with the worst regions for terrorist attacks being South Asia and the Near East.
In fact, Benjamin noted that 64 percent of all attacks worldwide occurred in just three countries – Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, though the numbers logged in the first two declined from 2010 to 2011.
The report notes continued weakening of the Al Qaeda core in Pakistan, but it also warns that “despite blows in western Pakistan, Al Qaeda, its affiliates, and its adherents remain adaptable”.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at email@example.com)