Terror attacks aimed against India's economic progress: US

Washington, May 1 A series of terrorist attacks on India by Islamic extremist groups like the one on Mumbai were aimed at creating a breakdown in India-Pakistan relations and impeding India's economic resurgence, according to a US State Department report.

India, one of world's most terrorism-afflicted countries in 2008, was the focus of numerous attacks from both externally-based terrorist organizations and internally-based separatist or terrorist entities, said the State Department's annual report on global terrorism released Thursday.

India assessed that South Asian Islamic extremist groups including Pakistan based Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad, and Bangladesh based Harakat-ul-Jihad-i-Islami, were behind several of these attacks, the report said.

'The Government of India believed these attacks were aimed at creating a break-down in India-Pakistan relations, fostering Hindu-Muslim violence within India, and harming India's commercial centres to impede India's economic resurgence,' it said.

However, the report suggested that despite a clear commitment to combating violent extremism, India's efforts to counter terrorism remained hampered because of poor coordination between regional authorities and an inefficient legal system.

'Although clearly committed to combating violent extremism, the Indian government's counterterrorism efforts remained hampered by its outdated and overburdened law enforcement and legal systems,' the report said.

In the November 26 Mumbai terrorist attacks, described as 'a pivotal moment that is now called '26/11'', the terrorists appeared to have been well-trained and took advantage of technology, such as Global Positioning System trackers.

But 'local and state police proved to be poorly trained and equipped and lacked central control to coordinate an effective response,' the report said noting India has not successfully prosecuted suspects in last year's attacks.

It however praised a proposal by the government to reform its counter-terrorism apparatus.

India's parliament has introduced legislation to restructure counter-terrorism laws and proposed creating a National Investigative Agency to build a national-level ability to investigate and prosecute alleged terrorist activity.

Since the Mumbai attacks, India has looked to improve counter-terrorism cooperation with the US and European Union, the report said.

The report noted that the Mumbai 'attack was the most recent in a long list of lethal terrorist incidents this year' including the May 13 Jaipur serial bomb blasts, the July 7 attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul, Sep 13 serial bomb attacks in New Delhi and the Oct 30 bomb in Assam.

Illicit funding sources that may have been exploited to finance terrorist operations were being closely investigated by India, the report said.

Indian authorities believe that the Mumbai terrorists used various funding sources including credit cards, hawala, charities, and wealthy donors, it said.

In addition to the Mumbai attacks, the rise in terrorist attacks and their coordinated nature throughout India suggested the terrorists were well-funded and financially organized.