Deadly Terror Group Expands Area of Operations, Mullen Says
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
NEW DELHI, July 23, 2010 The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is disturbed by a new terrorist trend that Lashkar-e-Taiba – the group that attacked the Indian city of Mumbai in November 2008 – epitomizes.
At a news conference here today, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen told reporters that Lashkar-e-Taiba is expanding its area of operations.
“They are not operating only in Pakistan. They are operating in Afghanistan, they are operating in Bangladesh, they are operating more globally than they were at the end of 2008,” Mullen said.
The group, which killed 166 people in its attacks in Mumbai, is also linking up with other terrorist organizations that they have not been affiliated with in the past, the admiral said. LeT, as it is called here, is working with al-Qaida, the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network.
“I see that as a growing trend,” Mullen said. “(Terrorist organizations) are working more closely together than they have in recent years. There are also an increasing number of terrorist organizations with global aspirations and a desire to execute attacks far away from where they originally started.”
LeT rose in Pakistan and operated in Kashmir, but it seems to have developed larger goals, the admiral said.
“LeT is definitely in that group and we are all concerned about its capabilities, its aspirations and that’s one of the reasons we need to work together as well as with Pakistan,” Mullen said. “It’s an issue I raise consistently with leaders in Pakistan and will again.”
Mullen said that al-Qaida is weaker than it has been, but he is increasingly concerned about the radicalization that is occurring globally. Much of this is done in great part, he said, through the Internet and other means. The Detroit bomber – Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Times Square attack and the tragedy at Fort Hood, Texas, are all part of this increasing self-radicalization, the admiral said.
“There’s an evolution of the networks in the whole approach to how terror organizations are adjusting,” Mullen said. “They are more linked than they were in the past.”
He said that countries throughout the world need to focus on this disturbing situation and work together to solve the problem. Nations need to “change the conditions under which these young men and women – mostly men but not exclusively – make decisions at young ages on what they are going to do with their lives,” the admiral said. “So they have a future and a path other than to put on a suicide vest to kill as many innocent civilians as they possibly can.”
Mullen told the Indian reporters that he was in New Delhi a few days after the attack in Mumbai. The admiral said he has great respect for Indian leaders who showed such restraint after that attack.
“Since that time, I have been very concerned about the potential for another attack like that,” the admiral said, noting the United States and India are working together to prevent any future terrorist attacks.