Eight leaders of the Pakistani terrorist group Lashkar-e-Tayyiba were designated as terrorists Friday by the U.S. Treasury Department.
Meanwhile, reports indicate the State Department is close to issuing a similar designation of the Haqqani Network, which also operates from Pakistan and is responsible for some of the most significant attacks against American and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
A congressional deadline for the administration to act against the Haqqani Network, or explain why it won't, is just over a week away. Pakistan has refused repeated American requests to root the terrorist group out of a lawless region close to the Afghanistan border. A U.S. drone strike in Pakistan last week killed the group's operations commander Badruddin Haqqani.
The eight Lashkar officials targeted by Treasury Friday work in the group's "propaganda campaigns, financial networks, and logistic support networks," a Treasury statement said. That includes "commanders planning attacks to those managing LET's relationships with other terrorist groups," said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen.
Lashkar-e-Tayyiba is considered responsible for the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai that killed 166 people, including six Americans. Treasury describes one of the men designated, Sajjid Mir, as the attack's project manager, ordering terrorists to execute hostages taken during the multi-day operation.
Investigations into the attacks showed that officials in Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence agency assisted the plotters.
ProPublica's Sebastian Rotella reports that the designation "sends a pointed, if largely symbolic, message to a Pakistani government that remains unable or unwilling to crack down on the extremist organization."
A designation of the Haqqani Network would be an ever greater challenge to Islamabad, which only recently reopened key supply routes for U.S. forces in Afghanistan.