The US House Committee on Foreign Affairs held hearings into the Lashkar e-Toiba organisation on Thursday, with witnesses noting the strong connections to Pakistan's intelligence community and the extent to which LeT is deeply imbedded within Pakistani society.
Originally set up by the Pakistani military to help prosecute its undeclared war against India in Kashmir, since 2002 LeT has become ever closer to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and al-Qaeda. Its operatives were responsible for the 2008 attacks on Mumbai and countless other atrocities.
In an emotional outburt, Representative Gary L Ackerman told the hearing that "This group of savages needs to be crushed. Not in a month. Not in a year. Not when the situation stabilizes in Afghanistan. Not when things are under control in Pakistan. Now. Today and everyday going forward. We’re not doing it, and we’re not effectively leading a global effort to do it. And we’re going to regret this mistake. We’re going to regret it bitterly."
Lisa Curtis, a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation think-tank, said that there was little to separate LeT from al-Qaeda: "The US must develop policies that approach the LeT with the same urgency as that which the US deals with the threat from al-Qaeda. Given the potential for LeT-linked terrorist cells to conduct a Mumbai-style attack here in the US, Washington must pursue policies that contain and shut down the operations of this deadly organization."
Dr. Marvin G. Weinbaum, scholar-in-residence at the Middle East Institute, said "Were Pakistan to become seriously destabilized, LeT's reputation for charity, piety and patriotism, together with its close ties to senior officers of the Pakistani military and intelligence establishment, would make it a potential vehicle to transform the Pakistani society into a Sharia state similar to that of Afghanistan in the 1990s.
Ashley Tellis, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for Peace, said "So long as the Pakistani Army and the security establishment more generally conclude that their private interests (and their conception of the national interest) are undermined by a permanent reconciliation between India and Pakistan, they will not rid themselves of the terrorist groups they have begotten and which serve their purposes—irrespective of what New Delhi or Kabul or Washington may desire."
Are they right? Yes.