Friday, November 28, 2008

U.S. intelligence: "most likely Lashkar-e-Taiba"

The carnage in Mumbai is still growing with the number of confirmed dead now more than 150, a toll likely to grow further.

According to one report, U.S. intelligence officials believe there is "mounting evidence that a Pakistani militant group based in Kashmir, most likely Lashkar-e-Taiba, was responsible for the deadly attacks in Mumbai." Suspicion has also fallen on Jaish-e-Muhammad, another Kashmiri separatist outfit that was responsible for the 2002 attack on India's Parliament which nearly started a war.

India's Prime Minister and other officials have already pointed a menacing finger at Pakistan. Pakistan has vigorously condemned that attacks and dispatched a high-ranking intelligence officer to India to help. Even Lashkar-e-Taiba has denied any involvement.

These attacks may provoke a furious outcry in India, and even a hint of Pakistani involvement would, at a minimum, put an end to the recent thawing of relations between the two countries.

From an American standpoint, few worse things could happen. We need more cooperation from the recently elected Pakistani government in cracking down on pro-Taliban and al Qaeda elements in the tribal areas of Pakistan along the Afgan border. To the extent that Pakistan feels a greater threat from India, Islamabad's focus will be on defending its eastern borders, not policing its western borders.

What is more, a new India-Pakistan military crisis could further weaken Pakistan's government and exacerbate the internal tumoil in that nuclear-armed country.

All of which should serve as a reminder to Americans that the threat posed by radical jihadists will not be easily overcome, whoever is President.

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