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LeT planned to hit 20 targets in India

LeT planned to hit 20 targets in India

Author: Times News Network
Publication: The Times of India
Date: February 21, 2009

Introduction: 300 Sites In Terror Crosshairs Globally: Report

The masterminds of 26/11 had plotted at least 20 attacks across the country, according to western experts who mined the data stored in the computer of leading Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist Zarar Shah and sifted through the email.

Shah and fellow LeT jihadi Zakiur Rahman Lakhvi had drawn up elaborate plans to carry out commando-like strikes against a score of Indian targets, according to the UK's Guardian newspaper. The chilling report also confirms how Lashkar has moved beyond an anti-India agenda and grown into a serious global terror threat. The data evinced plans to attack more than 300 targets worldwide.

These targets have not been named, but most are said to be located in the US, Europe and Israel. The newspaper report quoted analysts as saying that the list was more of a "statement of intent'', as LeT would have to set up terror cells all over the world to carry out commando-like terror attacks in so many places.

Nevertheless, it points to the growing ambition of the Pakistan-based Lashkar, which not long ago claimed it was focused on India to dodge international pressure.

"It suggests that Lashkar-e-Taiba,the outlawed terror group that planned much of the attack from Pakistan, had ambitions well beyond causing mayhem in India,'' said the report, citing speculation that it was a probe into LeT's links which had led to the arrest of 12 alleged terrorists-11 Pakistanis and an Indian-in Spain recently.

While the details of the report were not confirmed by any Indian agency, they too identify Zarar Shah as a computersavvy jihadi. US investigators traced the email claiming responsibility for the Mumbai attacks and purportedly sent by the Deccan Mujahideen-an entity faked by Lashkar as a red herring-to an email ID created from the personal computer of Shah, who figures high in the LeT hierarchy.

Shah and Lakhvi are said to be in ISI custody. Though the US has provided Islamabad with credible evidence against them in the Mumbai case, Pakistan is officially still to arrest them. It has instead named another man, Hamad Amin Sadiq, as the main conspirator, and this has only strengthened the suspicion that the government is dancing to the tune of the powerful ISI.

The Guardian report comes at a time when the US assessment has veered round to view that the jihadi outfit, known to have excellent relations with the ISI, is not just a terror organisation fighting over what Pakistan calls the Kashmir issue, but a major threat to global peace. This is reflected in former CIA chief Michael Hayden's recent statement describing LeT as one of the US intelligence agency's ten toughest security challenges in 2009.

"There was a migration in Lashkar-e-Taiba thinking over the past six, 12, 18 months, in which they began to identify the United States and Israel as much as being the main enemy as they have historically identified India,'' said Hayden. "That is a troubling development. And now it suggests that this migration of Lashkar-e-Taiba to a merge point with Al Qaida is probably taking place,'' he had added.

The report said that the US has been trying behind the scenes to coordinate intelligence exchanges between the two nuclear-armed rivals. "The CIA has worked hard to be seen to help New Delhi-including by recovering phone numbers deleted by the terrorists on their satellite phones,'' the report said, adding that intelligence agencies have warned that Mumbai raises the spectre of a new style of terrorist assault.


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