US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has said that al-Qaida is furnishing Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) with targeting information and assisting them in plotting attacks in India with a view to heighten tension between Pakistan and India and provoke conflict that would ultimately destabilize Pakistan.
“Al-Qaida sees using the Taliban in Pakistan and groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba as ways to destabilise Pakistan and even try to provoke a conflict between India and Pakistan that would inevitably destabilise Pakistan,” Gates said.
Gates, while testifying before the House Armed Services Committee, said that the US has proof which hint at al-Qaida’s aim to destabilize Pakistan.
“We have evidence that al-Qaeda is helping them pick targets, do operational planning, helping them in their effort to try to destabilise the Pakistani government,” Gates told lawmakers in response to a question.
“The other piece of this that does not include the Taliban or that – apart from the Taliban is, we also know that al-Qaida is helping the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the terrorist group that carried out the bombings in Mumbai,” he said.
Appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee earlier, Gates said: “al-Qieda is providing them (LeT) with targeting information and helping them in their plotting in India, clearly with the idea of provoking a conflict between India and Pakistan that would destabilise Pakistan.”
Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen agreed with Gates and said: “I certainly agree with the nexus (between al-Qaeda and the LeT), and I have watched it over the last year to two, that these groups are coming together… Secretary Gates talked about the linkage between the LeT and al-Qaida.”
“It is actually not local anymore and that is an example of the collaboration that’s going on with all these units. I was struck, as I’m sure you were, in Mumbai that a terrorist outfit could literally generate that kind of attack and then bring two nation-states closer to conflict. That is not an achievement lost on anyone that observed that,” he said.
“Those kinds of plots continue: the ability to destabilise Pakistan, seeking those nuclear materials and weapons. It’s extraordinarily dangerous,” he noted.