WASHINGTON – Citing attacks on the Indian Parliament and on the legislature in Indian Kashmir's regional capital, Secretary of State Colin Powell on Wednesday added two Pakistani militant groups to the list of foreign terrorist organizations subject to U.S. penalties.
The groups, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, which claim to be supporting the people of Kashmir, have conducted numerous terrorist attacks in India and Pakistan, Powell said in a statement.
"As the recent horrific attacks against the Indian parliament and the Srinagar legislative assembly so clearly show, the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and their ilk seek to assault democracy, undermine peace and stability in South Asia and destroy relations between India and Pakistan," Powell said.
The move makes it illegal for people or institutions under U.S. authority to provide material support to the two anti-India groups. It also allows the U.S. to deny visas to any representative of either group, and requires financial institutions to block assets held by them.
Neither group has any U.S. assets, however, so the United States is relying on Pakistan, which also blacklisted the organizations, to enforce the freeze.
India, however, is not satisfied with Pakistan's response to the groups' actions — a Dec. 13 attack on the Indian Parliament that killed 14 people and an Oct. 1 assault on the parliament in Srinagar, Indian Kashmir's capital, that killed 38.
For its part, Pakistan moved on Monday to freeze the groups' assets and on Tuesday detained the leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed.
India wants the leaders arrested and handed over and their organizations' activities halted.
Anger over the handling of the terror groups is just the latest in a string of arguments between India and Pakistan that have centered on the disputed territory of Kashmir, which has twice brought the two nations to war.
Following the attacks, India accused Pakistan's intelligence agency of sponsoring the groups' hit on the parliament. Pakistan has denied the charges.
Powell's move adds the groups to 79 other organizations whose assets have been cut off since the United States began its anti-terror operations in September.
Last week, President Bush announced he was moving to cut off financing to Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and also a group known as Umma Tameer-e-Nau or UTN, which is suspected of giving nuclear technology to Usama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
Powell said the Sept. 11 attacks "made it clear that the United States must use every tool at its disposal to combat terrorism."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.