India — Deadly Terror Group Expands Area of Operations, Mullen Says

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.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)