July 9th, 2010
04:23 PM ET

Security Brief: Pakistan terrorist group growing powerful

The United States and its allies have plenty to worry about in Afghanistan and Pakistan, with al Qaeda, two Talibans, the Haqqani Network and a plethora of other militant groups active. But the United States and intelligence analysts believe another group, one of Pakistan's most powerful and well-established, is also broadening its horizons.

It is Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, which means "Army of the Pure." It was blamed for the attack on Mumbai, India, hotels in November 2008 in which nearly 200 people were killed over three days. That attack "shows the organization's global ambitions," said Dan Benjamin, the U.S. State Department's coordinator for counterterrorism.

Bernjamin has been in Islamabad meeting Pakistani officials this week as part of a "strategic dialogue" between the United States and Pakistan. Lashkar-e-Tayyiba "appears to have a very complex mix of indigenous and international targets," Benjamin said at a U.S. Embassy briefing Thursday.

"We are working with Pakistan's civilian authorities to investigate further into this organization, but definitely [Lashkar-e-Tayyiba] maintains some level of connections with al Qaeda," Benjamin said at the briefing [WHEN added above].

Earlier this year, Benjamin said of the Mumbai attacks: "The target was set directly out of [Osama] bin Laden's book, filling the gap created by a diminished al Qaeda."

Lashkar-e-Tayyiba claims it is focused on the same issue as it was when created: freeing the disputed territory of Kashmir from Indian rule, experts say. In a rare interview earlier this year, the man widely regarded as the organization lader, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, told The Independent newspaper that the group was not involved in the Mumbai attacks, despite substantial evidence to the contrary.

Lashkar-e-Tayyiba was allegedly behind several high-profile attacks in India. And it is precisely because it is aimed at India's presence in Kashmir that the organization has been tolerated and even supported by Pakistani officials over the years - even after it was banned there in 2002, intelligence officials and some Pakistani officials say. The current Pakistani ambassador to Washington, Husain Haqqani, wrote three years ago that Lashkar-e-Tayyiba was "backed by Saudi money and protected by Pakistani intelligence services."

Saeed has been periodically put under house arrest when things have got a little overheated, but the group maintains an expansive compound near Lahore in Punjab and according to intelligence analysts remains well-connected to elements of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence or ISI.

NATO in Afghanistan believes Lashkar is extensively involved with militant groups there. Friday, the International Security Assistance Force said it had detained a Taliban commander in the eastern Nangahar province who had "assisted with the recent influx of [Lashkar-e-Tayyiba] insurgents into the province."

They are believed to have worked with the Haqqani Network to carry out attacks on Indian targets in Kabul, including several this year. Much to Pakistan's consternation, India has expanded its presence in Afghanistan, especially through Indian government-aided construction and training projects, since the overthrow of the Taliban.

Lashkar-e-Tayyiba fighters are also believed to have joined the Taliban in attacks on U.S. Forward Operating Bases in eastern Afghanistan over the last couple of years.

One scholar who has long studied Lashkar believes it is well placed to expand its activities. "Evidence suggests Lashkar has support cells in the Persian Gulf, Britain, North America, mainland Europe, and possibly Australia," wrote Stephen Tankel this year in a paper for the New America Foundation.

The case of David Headley suggests that is the case. The Pakistani-born American citizen confessed this year to a planning role in the Mumbai attacks and a conspiracy with senior figures in Lashkar-e-Tayyiba to attack the office in Copenhagen of the Danish newspaper that published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in 2005. He said he visited Pakistan several times to meet with Lashkar leaders.

Post by:
Filed under: Security Brief
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Smith in Oregon

    With the long time friends of America's CIA, the Pakistani ISI agency hiding and shielding the puppet masters that were directly charged to have a major role in the Mumbai, India attacks by Indian special investigative services, it clearly appears a breakaway faction of the US Government, specifically the CIA is aiding and supporting a well known enemy of India. India has long been a friend and supporter of America and it is utterly treasonous for the CIA to aid, guide and support Pakistan's efforts to terrorize nearby India and India's attempts to have the trans-Afghanistan pipeline built and bringing Natural Gas to New Delhi, India which the Pakistan Taliban fighters are trying to prevent.

    When did the American Government start permitting the CIA to undermine India's government and future prosperity in their own country? India has been a longtime ally of America and a stalwart supporter of America's democracy. Why is the American Government turning their back on India now while the CIA aids and supports Pakistan's attempt to undermine and destroy India?

    July 9, 2010 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Dan

    Nuke pakistan

    July 9, 2010 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. mother nature

    Why is no news channel talking about the IRANIAN offer to help stop the oil leak?

    Just because they are under sanctions for whatever reasons sponsored by the US goverment does not mean they are barred to even help on matters that are now beyond the capacity of US government or BP.

    This is a Global Disaster. Stop being cynical about the Iranians and take their help. They are experts in this subject whether or not the US government agrees. Let political ego not compromise the interest of the ordinary Americans and the humanity at large.

    By refusing or rather not even acknowledging the help offered by Iran, the crisis is not going to be resolved anyways. It’s only worsening by the hour.

    The help offer by Iran is so strictly censored by the government that not even the so-called free press/media is talking about it.

    For more information Visit http://www.presstv.ir

    or simply search Google/Yahoo/bing for more on this help offer from Iran.

    share this information with as many people as you can

    July 10, 2010 at 5:23 am | Report abuse |
  4. mother nature

    This is a Global Disaster. Stop being cynical about the Iranians and take their help. They are experts in this subject whether or not the US government agrees. Let political ego not compromise the interest of the ordinary Americans and the humanity at large.

    By refusing or rather not even acknowledging the help offered by Iran, the crisis is not going to be resolved anyways. It’s only worsening by the hour. The relief well and dispersents and etc etc are all lies. Neither US government nor BP knows wat to do about the leak. Eventually Mr. Prseident may decide to nuke the well. But that's even worse than the leak. The Gulf coast and its ecology would change for the next 10000 yrs if nuked. If the oil spill reached the northern parts of the Atlantic, it could disrupt the flow of ocean currents thereby adding to the global warming effects viz. El Nino, hurricanes etc.
    If the well is nuked, it will destry all ocean life in the gulf of mexico. So, the only logical way out is to take foreign help from nations that have the necessary skill, be it the enemy, for the greater good of humanity.

    The help offer by Iran is so strictly censored by the government that not even the so-called free press/media is talking about it.

    For more information Visit http://www.presstv.ir

    July 10, 2010 at 5:25 am | Report abuse |
  5. mother nature

    US is so obsessed with Israel that it can see nothing beyond. Not even nations who want an opportunity to be friends of America.
    That be the case, Iran does not get any audience with the US government, media and planners.
    Otherwise, no wise government or nation would refuse Iranian help in containing this oil spill disaster.

    Iranians are willing to help. Are Americans willing to be friends?

    July 10, 2010 at 5:26 am | Report abuse |
  6. mother nature

    This is really strange. US can welcome Netanyahu who only wants to take from America viz. money, security guarantees, technology, defense equipment, charity etc. but is estranged with Ahmedinejad who wants to give help and expertise to stop this spill that has turned into an environmental disaster threatening global ecology.

    May good sense prevail and US accept the help offer from Iran

    July 10, 2010 at 5:28 am | Report abuse |
  7. mother nature

    IRAN offering help to stop the oil leak. These guys have the real skills and expertise for this job.

    For more information Visit http://www.presstv.ir

    or simply search Google / Yahoo / Bing for more on this help offer from Iran.

    share this information with as many people as you may.

    Wake up Mr. President.

    July 10, 2010 at 5:30 am | Report abuse |
  8. mother nature

    I really don't see no reason why US should not take help from IRAN.
    Both BP and US government are buying time in hope that the well would eventually run dry. The whole crap about drilling of relief well is a big lie. By the time it is dug, twice the amount of oil would have leaked into the gulf as compared to today.

    US does not have any know-how to stop this spill, so why not let those deal with this mess who really have the capacity and expertise to handle such catastrophe.

    Mr. President, if u're listening, pls wake up and ring up the Iranian President. Let their offer to help not go in vain.

    July 10, 2010 at 5:33 am | Report abuse |
    • JamIt

      One might conclude from all the single minded "let Iran help/Israel is evil" posts, posted mere minutes apart, that mother nature is an agent of the Iranian Government.

      Sorry–does that make mother nature angry?

      July 13, 2010 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Frodo Baggins

    IRAN most certainly has the skills required for this kind of operation. Truly, we are too obsessed with Israel, blinded and drugged, so as not to distinguish between friends and foes.

    Let the Heavens above and Earth below shower their blessings on us so that we may rid ourselves of Zionist thoughts and feelings.

    Go ahead Mr. Obama and take help from Mr. Ahmedinejad before the oil reaches the shores of Manhattan.

    July 10, 2010 at 5:35 am | Report abuse |
  10. Frodo Baggins

    Look up http://www.presstv.ir

    July 10, 2010 at 5:37 am | Report abuse |
  11. mother nature

    Where am I ? Mommie.....!!!!

    July 10, 2010 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. evan Mark

    Please people learn about how horribe rule was under the Taliban:
    You absolutely MUST see this.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9aw6Cnw0hY&has_verified=1

    August 11, 2010 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |