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India thwarts Pakistani terrorist cell

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Indian security agencies working with police forces have arrested two men planning to carry out bomb attacks in New Delhi, Voice of America reports. Indian Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram told reporters on Wednesday that the men were affiliated with the Pakistan-based terrorist outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the Al-Qaeda affiliated group responsible for the 2008 terrorist incident in Mumbai that killed 166 people which came to be known as the 26/11 attacks.

India seems to have averted a major terrorist attack just prior to the Hindu spring festival of Holi. The arrests came just four months after India foiled another Lashkar plan to unleash terror in Delhi. In December 2010 a Lashkar plot was also detected when four jihadis were identified as entering Mumbai to launch terror attacks to disrupt winter holiday celebrations.

One of the suspects was arrested from a house in south Delhi's Tughlakabad Extension, the second was picked up on Wednesday from Hazaribagh in Jharkhand. Seized during the arrests were a flash drive, a sheet with coded messages, mobile phones and sulphur and nitrate-based explosives. The flash drive contained images of the suspects assembling explosives and mimicking Osama bin Laden's stance of firing an automatic rifle as seen in a popular video.

According to India’s Economic Times LeT has been pushing terrorists into India from jihadi training camps in Pakistan since the early 1990s. Lashkar has shifted tactics since 26/11 by nurturing indigenous jihadists on the Indian side of the border. The group is recruiting educated youths in Kashmir to be trained in Pakistan on hi-tech equipment and bomb-making before being sent to India in ones and twos to wreak havoc.

One of those apprehended Wednesday told police after being trained in Muzzafarabad from December 2011 to January 2012, he entered India where he received logistical support from Laskhar sleeper cells. However, an Indian intelligence official said the youth was prepared to act alone for the most part to ensure only the attacker knew about the mission.

Lashkar-e-Taiba, translated as Army of the Righteous or Army of the Pure, is one of the largest and most active militant Islamist terrorist organizations in South Asia. It was founded by Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, currently the amir of Jama'at-ud-Da'wah, a charity organization widely considered to be an LeT front. India has attempted to extradite Saeed from Pakistan to no avail.

Pakistan’s chief spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, or ISI, helped create Lashkar two decades ago to terrorize India to give up control in Kashmir. In fact, recently-retired Pakistani military and intelligence officials have been accused of directing the Mumbai attacks.

The group’s stated mission is not limited to challenging India's sovereignty over Jammu and Kashmir. It includes establishing an Islamic state in South Asia and uniting all Muslims in the region to launch jihad against all non-Muslim communities. The group has repeatedly claimed through its journals and websites that one of its overall objectives is to destroy the Indian republic and to annihilate Hinduism and Judaism.

Admiral Robert Willard, head of the US Pacific Command, said LeT is also targeting Westerners to advance the broader global jihad. Willard told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Lashkar contributes to terrorist operations in Afghanistan, embedding small teams within Taliban units to ambush US soldiers, and “aspires to operate against Asia, Europe and North America.”

Last year the FBI arrested Jubair Ahmad, a Pakistani living in the Washington area, charging him with providing material support to the LeT. Before Ahmad, the US arrested at least eight other LeT-linked men, charging them with “conspiracy to train for and participate in violent jihad in Kashmir.”

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Michael Hughes is a Washington D.C.-based journalist, a Baloch human rights advocate and a policy analyst for the New World Strategies Coalition - a native Afghan think tank.

For more stories on Geopolitics go to www.michaelhughesassoc.com

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