LeT may plot to replace al-Qaeda

Washington: Pakistan based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba is spreading fast by taking in former Pakistani soldiers as recruits and may make a bid to replace al-Qaeda, post killing of its leader Osama bin Laden, US experts have warned, but said these plans are unlikely "to succeed".

Making a testimony before US Congress sub-committee, US security experts told the lawmakers that the LeT was trying to expand its focus by joining the fight against US forces in Afghanistan, launching terror attacks against India, participating in the global jihad and non-violent activism in Pakistan.

Stephen Tankel, from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace told lawmakers that LeT had not been able to shake off its regional dynamics, but may plot a larger international terror role after bin Laden`s death.

Observing that the group had not given up its "obsession" with Kashmir, Tankel said the Kashmir conflict remains torpid and it may be difficult for LeT to regenerate insurgency there.

Pointing out that Let will not disappear from Kashmir scene, US security experts said "but a return to its glory days on that front is unlikely".

The experts told the lawmakers that despite repeated calls by US on Pakistan to take action against the group responsible for the Mumbai massacre, "LeT`s position remains relatively secure in Pakistan".

Tankel attributed this to the reason that Pakistan was facing a serious insurgency and LeT remains one of the few militant outfit whose policy is to refrain from launching attacks against the state.

Tankel said the US needs to continue to signal to the Pakistan army and ISI the severe repercussions that would result were LeT or elements within it to be involved in an attack on the homeland or American interests abroad.

The US must also continue to signal the need for Pakistan to restrain LeT from launching another major terrorist attack against India.

Moreover, the US should continue to press Pakistan to provide intelligence regarding LeT`s international networks, to interdict Westerners attempting to access the organisation`s above-ground infrastructure and to begin taking steps to dismantle outfits` training apparatus.