Washington: A US government report has revealed that Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) continues to plan its operations from within Pakistan.  

"Despite international condemnation for its November 2008 attacks in Mumbai, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) continues to plan regional operations from within Pakistan. LeT is an extremely capable terrorist organisation with a sophisticated regional network," the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in its 51-page report on Friday.

"It (LeT) continues to view American interests as legitimate targets. While the Government of Pakistan has banned LeT, it needs to take further action against this group and its front organisations, which find safe haven within Pakistan," it said.

Despite increased efforts by Pakistani security forces, al-Qaeda terrorists, Afghan militants, foreign insurgents and Pakistani militants continue to find safe haven in portions of Pakistan's Federally administered Tribal Areas (FATA), NWFP or Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa province and Balochistan, it said.

In the report titled 'Combating Terrorism: US Government Should Improve Its Reporting on Terrorist Safe Havens', the GAO said al-Qaeda and other groups such as the Haqqani network used the FATA to launch attacks in Afghanistan, plan operations worldwide, train, recruit and disseminate propaganda.

The Pakistani Taliban -- under the umbrella moniker Tehrik-e-Taliban or TTP -- also used the FATA to plan attacks against the civilian and military targets across Pakistan, it said.

Outside the tribal belt, the Quetta-based Afghan Taliban and separate insurgent organisations such as Hizb-e-Islami Gulbuddin used areas in Balochistan and NWFP for safe haven, the GAO report said.

"Islamist Deobandi groups and many local tribesmen in the FATA and the NWFP continue to resist the government's efforts to improve governance and administrative control," it said.

The GAO report said despite the August death of the Pakistani-Taliban's leader Baitullah Mehsud and Pakistani military operations throughout FATA and NWFP, the Pakistani-Taliban, al-Qaeda and other extremist groups remained dangerous foes to Pakistan and the international community.

Noting that the US government has not fully addressed reporting requirements to identify US efforts to deny safe haven to terrorists, the GAO recommended that the National Security Council (NSC) improve reporting on assessments of US efforts to address the issue of terrorist safe havens.

"US officials have concluded that various terrorist incidents demonstrate the dangers emanating from terrorist safe havens, such as the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India, planned, in part, from safe havens in Pakistan, and the attempted (US) airliner bombing on December 25, 2009, planned from safe havens in Yemen," it said.

According to the GAO, the State Department has made few changes to the 15 terror safe havens identified in its report since April 2007. Since that report, it has removed two terrorist safe havens — the Afghan-Pakistan Border and Indonesia — from the 'Country Reports on Terrorism'.

 

(Agencies)