Reports suggesting the US now considers terrorist group Lashkar-e-Toiba to have gained a stature to rival Al Qaeda are being viewed as confirming the views of Indian Intelligence about dangers posed by this group, a stand India has long advocated. While earlier the Lashkar was never taken as seriously as Al Qaeda by the west, after the 26/11 attacks western intelligence and counter-terrorism agencies have been jolted out of their complacency.
“After 26/11, US Intelligence agencies have started looking at Laskhar assets within the US itself, both in terms of a money trail as well as a threat to US homeland security as well,” says one source in the Indian security establishment, adding “Lashkar is now being considered enough of a threat to merit as much attention by the west as was Al Qaeda.”
“But Lashkar is also in some ways, more of a threat than Al Qaeda. Lashkar has had mainstream appeal and a front organization in Jammat ud Dawa in Pakistan. It can mobilize support from their target masses like Hamas in Palestine in a way trhat Al Qaeda cannot. Also, Al Qaeda’s area where it can operate freely without fear of punitive action has reduced greatly in the past few years. That is not the case with Lashkar, which has remained free to operate publicly in Pakistan. Lashkar has a wide network and has been openly funded by financiers in the Middle East, while Al Qaeda’s money supply is no longer so open,” explains the source.
“But it is good that at least at this stage the west has woken up to the danger of Lashkar. They are as much a danger to the west as they are to India. The alert at the New York subway after 26/11 actually resulted from a threat perception on the basis of intelligence reports point to an attack by the Lashkar. So it is good that the west has also become serious about dealing with Lashkar,” the source added.