A top U.S. commander has warned of the "expanding reach" of the Pakistan-based terrorist group Laskar-e-Tayyiba (LeT). The group has declared "jihad" on America and its activities are no longer confined to South Asia and India, Adm. Robert Willard, head of the Pacific Command, told a Senate hearing April 12. LeT has been blamed by Indian authorities for the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks that killed 166 people, including six Americans.
Willard claimed the United States had evidence of LeT's presence in Europe and the broader Asia-Pacific region. Willard also said the group was active in Canada and the United States.
Willard also noted the relationship of the Pakistani government to the LeT was "very sensitive." The LeT is alleged to be a creation of Pakistan's military intelligence service, the ISI, as part of its efforts to use Kashmiri fighters to wage a low-intensity proxy war against rival India. The group has been banned in Pakistan but Indian authorities maintain the ISI continues to have ties to Lashar militants.
Willard's remarks come at a time of heightened interest in Lashkar in the United States, particularly since the arrest of Chicago resident David Headley whose reconnaissance trips to India on behalf of Lashkar played a key role in the Mumbai attacks.