New York: Pakistan-based militant outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba, which masterminded the Mumbai terror attacks, is “largely intact” and “determined to strike India again”, a US media report said, quoting former and current members of the group and intelligence officials.
Despite pledges from Pakistan to dismantle militant outfits operating on its soil, and the arrest of a handful of operatives, Lashkar-e-Toiba has persisted and even flourished, since ten recruits killed over 180 people in Mumbai mayhem on November 26 last year, ‘The New York Times´ reported.
Indian and Pakistani dossiers on the Mumbai investigations, copies of which were obtained by the US daily, offer a detailed picture of the operations of Lashkar network that spans Pakistan. It included four houses and two training camps in Karachi that were used to prepare the attacks.
In fact, Lashkar’s broader network endures, and can be mobilised quickly for elaborate attacks with relatively few resources, the daily quoted Lashkar members and intelligence officials from the US, Europe and Pakistan as saying.
But by all accounts Lashkar’s network, though dormant, remains alive, and the possibility that it could strike India again makes Lashkar a wild card in one of the most volatile regions of the world, the report said.
Days back, Israel had also warned of a possible strike in India, saying militants were planning again a Mumbai-type attacks in that country, targeting large concentration of Western and Israeli tourists.
One highly placed Lashkar militant said the Mumbai attackers were part of some groups trained by former Pakistani military and intelligence officials at Lashkar camps. “Some people of the ISI knew about the plan and closed their eyes.”
Even as new details emerge about the Mumbai attacks, senior American military, intelligence and counterterrorism officials have expressed grim certainty that Lashkar-e-Toiba is plotting new attacks.
The US warned Indian officials this year about a Mumbai-style attack by Lashkar against multiple sites in India, according to a senior US counterterrorism official.
The unnamed counterterrorism official said that the information, gleaned from electronic intercepts and other sources, was not specific but it was significant enough for American officials to alert their Indian counterparts.
“There were indications of possible terrorist activity in the run-up to the Indian elections,” in May, “and that information was shared promptly with Indian officials,” the US daily quoted the counterterrorism official as saying.
Pakistani officials, however, say they’ve been kept in the dark. But, if there is one thing on which the intelligence agencies agree, it is that the consequences of a new attack by Lashkar could be devastating, the daily said.
“We do fear that if something like Mumbai happens in India again there might be a military reaction from the Indian side and it could trigger into a war. Right now we cannot guarantee that it’ll not happen again because we do not have any control over it,” a Pakistani official said.