Pakistan-based terrorist outfits — the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) — are among radical Islamist groups identified as a potential threat to the US in the Trump administration’s new counterterrorism strategy.
In addition to the ISIS and al-Qaeda, dozens of other radical Islamist terrorist groups are working to advance more locally focused insurgent or terrorist campaigns, while still posing a threat to United States persons and interests overseas, said the National Strategy for Counter-terrorism released by the White House on Thursday.
“These groups, including Boko Haram, Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan and the Lashkar-e Taiba, employ a range of political and terrorist tactics to undermine local governments and conduct attacks,” it said.
The LeT is responsible for carrying out the 2008 Mumbai attack that killed 166 people. It has been declared as a foreign terrorist organisation by the US in June 2014.
According to the strategy, these organisations will probably prioritise regional goals over attacks against the homeland or United States interests because of resource constraints or political considerations.
“However, many of these groups are hostile to the United States, maintain networks of sympathisers around the world, and retain ties to the ISIS or al-Qaeda, underscoring their potential threat to United States interests,” said the strategy, according to which radical Islamist terrorists remain the primary transnational terrorist threat to the US and its vital national interests.
Prominent terrorist organisations, particularly the ISIS and al-Qaeda, have repeatedly demonstrated the intent and capability to attack the homeland and United States interests and continue to plot new attacks and inspire susceptible people to commit acts of violence inside the United States, it said.
“These groups stoke and exploit weak governance, conflict, instability, and longstanding political and religious grievances to pursue their goal of eliminating Western influence in majority Muslim countries and remaking Islamic society,” the strategy said.
Radical Islamist terrorist groups have developed and used methods that have challenged the US counterterrorism efforts, including establishing state-like governing institutions within their safe havens, deploying sophisticated explosive devices to defeat aviation security measures, and using high-quality media products to recruit extremists in the West, it said.
Future radical Islamist terrorists and other terrorists will continually adapt these and other tactics to their circumstances and the technological advances of the age.
“It is, therefore, critical that the United States counterterrorism posture be agile enough to adapt as well,” said the strategy.
Radical Islamist terrorists have a violent extremist ideology that serves to create a common identity and sense of purpose for those susceptible to its core message, it alleged.
“This vile ideology is used to indoctrinate new recruits to accept terrorist groups’ goals and directives without question, and also allows these groups to maintain cohesion, ensure conformity, and justify the use of violence to meet the ideology’s goals.
“It avails terrorists of a world view that helps unify their efforts by fomenting conflict and attempts to legitimize terrorism by elevating the social status of group members and absolving individuals from culpability for their participation in violence,” it said.
The ISIS, the strategy, said remains the foremost radical Islamist terrorist group and the primary transnational terrorist threat to the US, despite ongoing us and coalition civilian and military efforts that have diminished the group’s footprint in Iraq and Syria, killed thousands of its members, and curtailed its global expansion.
“The ISIS retains the financial and material resources and expertise to launch external attacks — including against United States interests — and its senior leaders continue to call for attacks against the United States,” it said.
Meanwhile, al-Qaeda’s global network remains resilient and poses an enduring threat to the homeland and United States interests around the world, the strategy said.
Consistent United States-led counterterrorism pressure has removed many of its senior leaders and reduced the group’s ability to operate in South Asia, but its affiliates continue to plan and carry out terrorist attacks against the United States and our allies, as well as raise funds from individual supporters through the international financial system, it said.
“Affiliate resources are primarily focused on local and regional conflicts, but key operatives and elements within the network continue to seek out new opportunities to strike the homeland and United States interests and to inspire attacks inside the United States.
“Veteran al-Qaeda leaders are working to consolidate and expand the group’s presence in several regions, including in Syria, from which it aspires to launch new attacks against the United States and our allies,” said the strategy.