Sunday, January 19, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

LeT turning global
Dawood’s links come to the fore
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 18
The Indian intelligence and security managers are facing a grave challenge of the hitherto-unknown kind — the most active terrorist outfit in India, Lashkar-e-Toiba, is turning global like Al-Qaida.

Credible information is already available with the Government of India that LeT, riding on the wave of support from Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), is spreading its wings outside Pakistan.

According to these reports, LeT is already operating cells in several countries, including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Kuwait’s Ambassador to India, Mr Abdullah Ahmed Al-Murad, told The Tribune he was unaware of any LeT cell in his country though he added that his government would cooperate with New Delhi in every possible manner if any such information were to be shared with Kuwait.

The LeT phenomenon could, in the course of time, become much more menacing if it turns too big for the ISI to manage and also because of the links with the underworld, fostered through ISI channels, giving it the kind of lethal edge that even the Al-Qaida did not enjoy. There are classified reports with the Vajpayee government that Pakistan-based underworld don, Dawood Ibrahim, has of late been working very closely with LeT.

What is troubling senior intelligence and Home Ministry officials here is that Dawood’s delivery mechanisms could just as profitably be employed by LeT in large parts of the globe especially in North Africa, the Balkans, western Europe and the Black Sea ports to undertake jehad against all those regarded by LeT as enemies of Islam.

Two successive discoveries, made by Indian intelligence agencies over the last six months, of LeT units in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia that functioned with ISI backing, have thrown new light on the emerging danger of a new trans-national terror entity. The danger is compounded with parallel developments which go to show that notwithstanding the departure of Dawood Ibrahim from India in 1983, he had appointed a kind of CEO (Shakeel Lamboo) who not only managed D-Company affairs in India but also oversaw landing of arms, ammunitions and explosives, shipped to the Indian coastline by the ISI.

Intelligence agencies are now looking at the possibility of the ISI having brought LeT and the D-Company together with the former executing terrorist operations with materials supplied by the latter.

If so, this linkage could have larger ramifications worldwide as Dawood’s network in the Middle East and Europe could act as the explosives and munitions supply chain for LeT.

The Indian intelligence agencies are now concerned that the formidable apparatus of the D Company may have been deployed by the ISI for meeting the terrorist requirements of LeT.

It suits the ISI’s strategic interests to make LeT a global outfit like Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaida. The ISI is well aware of the fact that in the post- September 11 scenario, it is just not possible for Al-Qaida to have an entire country at its disposal. Therefore, the Al-Qaida is being forced to function as an umbrella body of scores of cells, each cell a sort of an independent unit.

LeT can fill this vacuum, obviously with the help from a powerful and cash-rich agency like the ISI.


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