India faces significant threats from Pakistani terror groups: US

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington: Facing persistent and significant external threats from groups including Pakistan based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad, and Harakat-ul-Jihad-i-Islami-Bangladesh, India remains one of the most terrorism afflicted nations,

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according to a new US report.

Although there were no large-scale assaults similar to the LeT led Nov 26, 2008, attacks in Mumbai, officials warned that “India remained at risk on the basis of the volume of credible threats the government continued to receive”, the State Department said in its Congressionally mandated Country Reports on Terrorism 2009.

Noting that India was the focus of numerous attacks from both externally and internally based terrorist organizations, the report said: “Although clearly committed to combating terrorism, the Indian government’s counterterrorism efforts remained hampered by its outdated and overburdened law enforcement and legal systems.”

In the wake of the Mumbai terrorist attacks, India’s parliament has introduced bills to restructure its counterterrorism laws and established a National Investigation Agency (NIA) to create a national-level capability to investigate and prosecute acts of terrorism, it said.

In neighbouring Pakistan, foreign terrorist organizations, including Al Qaeda and its affiliates, continued to operate and carry out attacks in Pakistan, the report released Thursday by counterterrorism coordinator, Daniel Benjamin, noted.

“The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Balochistan, the North West Frontier Province, southern Punjab, and other parts of Pakistan continued to be used as safe havens for Al Qaeda terrorists, Afghan insurgents, and other terrorist groups,” it said.

Similar to last year, attacks occurred with greatest frequency in the regions bordering Afghanistan, including Balochistan, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP).

In Afghanistan, “the Taliban-led insurgency remained resilient in the south and east and expanded its presence into the north and west”.

“Although the insurgency absorbed heavy combat and leadership losses, its ability to recruit foot soldiers from its core base of rural Pashtuns remained undiminished,” the report said.

Al Qaeda provided some facilitation, training, and funding while maintaining its safe haven in Pakistan, it noted.

Separate but intertwined and affiliated extremist organizations led by Mullah Omar (Taliban), Sirajuddin Haqqani (Haqqani Network), and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin – HIG) increased their use of improvised explosive devices and coordinated attacks using multiple suicide bombers, resulting in an increase from 2008 in overall casualties, the report said.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])