Pakistani terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) has global ambitions and is willing to undertake bold, mass casualty operations, a top counter-terrorism official of the Obama Administration has said.
“The example of David Headley shows Al-Qaeda is not the only group with global ambitions that we have to worry about,” Daniel Benjamin, Coordinator, Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the State Department said.
“LeT has made it clear that it is willing to undertake bold, mass-casualty operations with a target set that would please Al-Qaida planners,” Benjamin said.
Headley, at the behest of the LeT handlers based in Pakistan had carried out surveillance of possible terrorist targets in Mumbai and other places in the country.
“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 global terrorist threat,” Benjamin said in his address to the Cato Institute, a Washington-based think tank.
“Very few things worry me as much as the strength and ambition of LeT, a truly malign presence in South Asia. We are working closely with allies in the region and elsewhere to reduce the threat from this very dangerous group,” he said.
Benjamin said a number of recent events have made clear, U.S. cannot afford to have any sense of false security.
“As we’ve seen 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 said.
“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 US. An indictment that was unsealed in Chicago in December portrays an American citizen - David Headley - 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 said.
“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,” the official said.