January 20, 2010
While praising India for not attacking Pakistan immediately following the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates warned India could not be expected to show such restraint if another attack happened.
Which led Secretary Gates to conclude that al-Qaeda is attempting to spark a war between India and its long-standing rival Pakistan. Tensions have continued to grow between the two nations since 2008, with India’s Army Chief declaring his nation ready to fight both Pakistan and its ally China at the same time: a three-way war which would involve 40 percent of the worlds population.
Moreover, Secretary Gates claimed that al-Qaeda secretly exercises control over every militant group in the region, and that a “victory for one is a victory for all.” The US certainly has shown difficulty distinguishing between militant factions, but Gates provided no evidence that they were actually all part of a single “syndicate,” as he put it.
The Mumbai attack was blamed on the Lashkar-e Taiba (LeT), a militant group of Kashmiri separatists. LeT was quick to deny the charges. Links between LeT and al-Qaeda are unclear at best, and officials have used the fact that both groups operated in Afghanistan before the 2001 US invasion as evidence of ties.
January 20, 2010
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said al Qaeda is working with an array of local militant groups to destabilize South Asia and trigger a war between India and Pakistan, an indication of growing U.S. fears about new terror attacks throughout the volatile region.
Mr. Gates said al Qaeda had formed alliances with the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban as well as with Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani-based group that carried out the attacks in Mumbai in 2008 that left more than 160 dead.
The American defense chief, who is in the middle of a three-day visit to India, said the al Qaeda-led "syndicate" is trying "to destabilize not just Afghanistan, not just Pakistan, but potentially the whole region."
Speaking to reporters here, Mr. Gates said the Islamist groups were focusing particular attention on India and Pakistan, regional rivals who have fought three major wars since 1947. He said that Pakistani-based militants were trying to carry out strikes within India in hopes of provoking an Indian counterattack that could escalate into a new conflict between the two nations.
Mr. Gates said the groups also posed an "existential" threat to Pakistan and warned that India's government—which refrained from reprisal attacks on Pakistan after the Mumbai assault— wasn't likely to exercise similar restraint if new attacks occurred on its territory.
"I think it's not unreasonable to assume that Indian patience would be limited were there to be further attacks," he said.