Bomb probe could renew focus on Pakistan group
The naming of an unidentified Pakistani American as a “person of interest” in the Times Square near-bombing could focus renewed attention on whether Lashkar-i-Taiba, a violent group best known for organizing attacks on India, has turned its attention to cultural targets in the United States.
Another Pakistani American, David Headley, recently pleaded guilty to helping Lashkar-i-Taiba plan an attack on a Danish newspaper that had published a cartoon of the prophet Muhammad, as well has scouting Mumbai for its 2008 attacks there.
Some commentators have suggested that the Times Square offices of Comedy Central, which recently broadcast a South Park episode poking fun at the danger of portraying Muhammad in less than reverent light, was the real target on Saturday night.
A 20-year-old Virginia man who styles himself as an Islamic radical, Zachary Chesser, has engaged in an online campaign to whip up fury against the show.
According to the Anti Defamation League, which has been tracking his online posts, Chesser made his first comment about the South Park episode with an April 15 posting on Twitter.
"May Allah kill Matt Stone and Trey Parker and burn them in Hell for all eternity,” he said of the program’s creators, according to the ADL. “They insult our prophets Muhammad, Jesus, and Moses..."
Analysts remain uncertain, however, whether Lashkar-i-Taiba would pour resources into attacking cultural targets in the U.S., according to the London Telegraph.
"Evidence suggests the group is prepared to support attacks against the West, but not at the expense of its war against India,” analyst Stephen Tankel wrote late last year the West Point Combating Terrorism Center Sentinel.
“LeT willingly coordinated with [David] Headley on attacking Danish targets, but when the opportunity arose to use him to prepare new attacks in India, LeT suggested he shift focus to South Asia," Tankel wrote, using an acronym for Lashkar-i-Taiba.
Lashkar’s leaders called off Headley's plotting in Denmark, telling him he was needed more for the Mumbai operation, according to his statement of guilt.
As part of his guilty plea, Headley, who changed his name from Daood Gilani so he could travel more easily, is cooperating with investigators.
| May 3, 2010; 11:45 PM ET
Categories: Intelligence, Justice/FBI | Tags: Comedy Central, David Headley, India, Lashkar e Taiba, Muhammad, Times Square, United States, Warfare and Conflict
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