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Bush targets Kashmir 'terror group'

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. President George W. Bush has announced moves to freeze the assets of the militant group blamed by India for the suicide attack on the parliament building in New Delhi earlier this month.

Bush described the Kashmir-based Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LET) as an extremist group and a "stateless sponsor of terrorism", which he said was seeking to destroy relations between Pakistan and India.

In what amounted to a progress report on the U.S.-led war on terrorism the president also named the Pakistani Umma Tameer-e-Nau (UTN) as another organization believed to be funneling money to terrorists and terrorist organizations.

White House report: The Global War on Terrorism 

Message board: War on terrorism 
Highlights of the war on terrorism
Military campaign
  • 11 terrorist training camps destroyed
  • 39 Taliban command-and-control sites destroyed
  • Taliban driven from power by fewer than 3,000 U.S. forces on the ground and anti-Taliban Afghan forces

  • 89 countries granted airspace rights for U.S. military aircraft
  • 23 countries agreed to host U.S. forces in military operations

    Terrorist finances
  • Assets of suspected terrorists and organizations frozen in 142 countries
  • U.S. frozen the assets of 153 terrorist-related groups and blocked $33 million in terrorist organization assets

  • 460 individuals detained by INS as of December 17
  • 116 people facing federal criminal charges with 77 in custody

    Humanitarian relief
  • U.S. provided $187 million in aid since October
  • 127,368 metric tons of international food aid delivered to Afghanistan
  • U.S. military dropped more than 2.4 million daily rations

  • He said the UTN was ostensibly a charity organized by a former official of the Pakistani atomic energy commission to help Afghan civilians but was instead providing information about nuclear weapons to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network.

    Three UTN directors have also been added to the administration's list of those who support terrorists.

    "We know that al Qaeda would like to obtain nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and we know that oftentimes they do not act alone," President Bush said from the Rose Garden at the White House.

    "Al Qaeda has international supporters, and some of supporters hide themselves in the disguise of charity.

    These latest groups to be added to the U.S. list of global terror groups are not believed to have any offices or assets in the United States, so the announcement is symbolic.

    However, Bush called on countries around the world to freeze or block financial assets belonging to both organizations.

    Making his announcement Thursday the president condemned the attack on India's parliament earlier this month in which eight people, as well as five attackers, died.

    "The legislature of the world's largest democracy, a nation founded on the principles of freedom of speech, freedom of worship, was ruthlessly attacked," Bush said.

    "The terrorists killed eight innocent people. If their mission had succeeded, they would have kidnapped and killed many of India's elected representatives."

    "These attacks on Indian's parliament buildings remind us that whatever grievances or causes the terrorists may cite, their real target is democracy and freedom," he said.

    Blaming LET for the attack he said the militant group was "a stateless sponsor of terrorism" aimed at undermining Pakistani's President, General Pervez Musharraf.

    Calling the group "a global threat" Bush said he was looking forward to working with the governments of both India and Pakistan in a common effort to shut it down and bring the killers to justice.

    India has accused Pakistan's intelligence agency of supporting militant separatist groups fighting in Kashmir, which is the only majority-Muslim province in Hindu-dominated India.

    Pakistan's government has denied charges of involvement, but said it would consider action against anyone based in Pakistan if India gave proof.

    The increased tensions between India and Pakistan, both nuclear states, have complicated the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan with Washington relying heavily on Pakistan's support of the campaign.

    The United States has urged the rival neighbors to exercise restraint, and Secretary of State Colin Powell has said the situation "has the potential of becoming very dangerous."

    The naming of the two groups came on what the White House described as the 100th day of the war on terrorism and coincided with the release of a report outlining the developments on the diplomatic, financial, military, humanitarian and law enforcement fronts.

    It also detailed the fight against terror in the United States and the aid going to the survivors of the terrorist attacks.

    The report said that more than $33 million in assets of terrorist organizations have been frozen in the United States, while other nations have blocked another $33 million.


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