LeT has acquired lethal capabilities: US intel chief

Washington: Concerned that Pakistan based Lashkar-i-Taiba is expanding horizons, a top US security official has said the terror group has acquired capabilities to launch a Mumbai-type terrorist strike in Europe and other parts of the world.

Any fresh strike by the group in India or anywhere else would hurt US national security interest and its counter-terrorism interests in the region, Michael Leiter, Director of the National Counter-terrorism Center told lawmakers.

Testifying before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said Pak-based LeT has enough capabilities to launch a Mumbai-type terrorist strike in Europe and other parts of the world.

"What we have not yet seen is a history of them doing so. We are certainly concerned by some indicators we see of them expanding their horizons beyond the region.

Certainly they have the capacity — it`s a large organisation," he said.

The US intelligence chief comments came as Pakistan`s Inter Services as a powerful lawmaker took the Pak`s ISI to task for not handing over to India, those responsible for the Mumbai terrorist attacks.

India has identified LeT operations commander Zakiur Rahman Lakhvi along with others as the plotters of the Mumbai terror attacks in which 166 people were gunned down.

Dianne Feinstein, Chairman of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, said, "It appears the ISI walks both sides of the street. The failure of the country to turn over two leading — one operator, one leader — from the Mumbai attack to India; the reluctance to go into North Waziristan; the development of a safe harbor; the concentration of a number of terrorist groups in that safe harbor."

In his deposition Leiter said, "What they did in India could theoretically be launched elsewhere. But we have not yet seen those steps occur. I think the additional point that I would stress is they can still be a very destabilising factor in the region."

"So even without striking in the US or Europe, a further attack by Lashkar-e-Taiba in India would very much hurt our national security and our counterterrorism interests in Pakistan," Leiter said in response to a question from US lawmakers.