LeT, TTP among insurgents teaming up to counter security forces in Pak, Afghanistan

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Washington, Dec 29 (ANI): Increased cooperation among insurgent factions is being reported inside both Afghanistan and Pakistan, as US and NATO officials said they had seen evidence of loose cooperation among militant organizations, including Lashkar-e-Taiba and Tehrik-i-Taliban.

Insurgent groups have increasingly been teaming up inside Pakistan, where many of the extremist organizations are based or where their leaders have found a haven, The New York Times reported.

Lashkar is a Punjabi group and is considered one of the most serious long-term threats inside Pakistan. The Punjabi groups, many of which were created by Pakistani intelligence to fight against India's interests in Kashmir, now appear to be teaming up with Pashtun groups like the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban to fight their creators, the Pakistani intelligence and security services, the paper added.

In the past, these insurgent groups have been seen as sharing ideology and inspiration, but less often plans for specific missions, but now the intelligence assessments offer evidence of a worrisome new trend, in which extremist commanders and their insurgent organizations are coordinating attacks and even combining their foot soldiers into patchwork patrols sent to carry out specific raids, the paper said.

These unusual and expanding alliances not only reveal the resilience and flexibility of the militant groups, but also at the same time, officials say, suggest that the factions are feeling new military pressure.

American and NATO officials say these decisions by insurgent leaders are the result of operations by American, Afghan and allied forces on one side of the border, and by the Pakistani military and US drone strikes on the other, the paper added.

Pentagon and military officials who routinely engage with their Pakistani counterparts said that officials in Islamabad agreed with the new American and NATO assessments.

"This is actually a syndicate of related and associated militant groups and networks," said one American officer, summarizing the emerging view of Pakistani officials. "Trying to parse them, as if they have firewalls in between them, is really kind of silly. They cooperate with each other. They franchise work with each other."

According to the paper, the role of senior leaders of Al Qaeda, who are believed to be hiding in Pakistan's tribal areas, remains important as well, officials said.

"They are part of this very complex collusion that occurs between all of these extremist groups," said one US official, adding, "Each group provides certain value to the syndicate. Al Qaeda senior leadership provides ideological inspiration and a brand name- which is not all that tangible, frankly, but it's still pretty important."

Officials said that the loose federation was not managed by a traditional military command-and-control system, but was more akin to a social network of relationships that rose and faded as the groups decided on ways to attack Afghan, Pakistani, American and NATO interests, the paper said. (ANI)

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