By Arun Kumar, IANS,
Washington : The United States says it is working with allies around the world to ensure that a “profoundly dangerous” Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) does not emerge as a major terrorist group as Al Qaeda itself is diminished.
“I don’t think I ever said LeT was more dangerous than Al Qaeda, but it is certainly a very, very dangerous group,” a top US counter-terrorism official told reporters Wednesday referring to the group behind Nov 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
“Obviously, LeT is a profoundly dangerous group and its support that it derives from doing social services is like Hamas, is like Hezbollah, and is of course of great concern,” Daniel Benjamin, State Department Coordinator for Counter Terrorism, said.
“That is why the work that we are doing with Pakistan, aside from the law enforcement cooperation-and we have been very supportive of Pakistan’s efforts to bring Mumbai perpetrators to justice,” he said.
It was critically important that Pakistan continue to develop its institutions and develop the ability to provide the services to its people so that other organizations with a radical agenda are not in there subverting the state,
“As the two-year anniversary of Mumbai approaches, we continue to work very closely with our interagency partners and international allies to reduce the threat from this very dangerous group,” he said.
Expressing satisfaction that many in the region were very concerned about the LeT threat, Benjamin noted “There is growing cooperation in the region to thwart LeT, especially between such critical partners as India and Bangladesh.”
“Obviously, we know how difficult this business is and how hard it is to achieve perfect success. This is very much on our screen right now and very much a matter of concern,” he said. “We don’t want to see LeT filling that hole in the global extremism as Al Qaeda itself is diminished.”
Benjamin said the Obama administration wants to make sure that Islamabad has the capacity to successfully fight against terrorism as Pakistan has suffered “grievously” from militancy.
The US official also warned against paying out ransoms to win the freedom of hostages kidnapped by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the terrorist group’s branch in northern Africa, saying the practice bolsters the militants..
Citing reports of multi-million dollar payouts, Benjamin called the trend “very worrisome.”
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])