This analysis is conducted as part of the Son of Media Safety & Security’s Project on War and Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs). Learn more here.
Lashkar i Jhangvi (LJ or LeJ)
Although officially formed in 1996, by founding members Muhammad Ajmal (aka Akram Lahori), Malik Ishaque and Riaz Basra, the group known as Lashkar i Jhangvi (LJ) can trace its beginnings to six years prior. LJ is the more militant and violent offshoot of a Sunni Deobandi sectarian group called Sipah i Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), which was formed in 1990. The founders of LJ accused SSP leadership of deviating from the ideas of SSP co-founder Maulana Haq Nawaz Jhangvi. Committed to purifying Pakistan of non-believers, outside of Sunni Islam, and the use of violence, LJ went to work committing small attacks against Pakistan’s Shia population.
In 1999, LJ attempted an assassination on Pakistani Primer Minister Nawaz Sharif and his brother, Shabaz Sharif, the Chief Minister of Punjab Province. Soon after, and worth noting prior to the attacks of 9/11, in August of 2001 the Pakistani government banned the group. As a result the LJ membership sought refuge with the Afghani Taliban, easily located across the border. After the collapse of the Taliban in late 2001 as a result of American an ally actions, the LJ became active in aiding the Afghani Taliban. Assistance came in many forms including providing safe houses, false identifications as well as protection in Karachi, Peshawar and Rawalpindi.
With this new association, LJ operations expanded to include attacks against Westerners and Western interests in Pakistan. LJ activities have included:
- 01/2002: Participation in the abduction and murder of journalist Daniel Pearl
- 03/2002: Grenade assault on Protestant International Church in Islamabad, killing two U.S. citizens
- 01/2003: U.S. Department of State designates LJ as an FTO
- 10/2007: Suicide bombing of a Pakistan Air Force bus
- 01/2008: Bombing near a mosque in Peshawar, fourteen killed
- 02/2008: LJ member Fida Hussain arrested
- 07/2008: Senior LJ member Shafiqur Rehman arrested in Quetta. He confesses to seven assassinations in Quetta and is suspected of involvement in over 100 cases of sectarian terrorism
- 09/2008: Three LJ trained operatives killed in a police raid. The police also find bomb-making material and the body of a Pakistani businessman who had been kidnapped and killed by the operatives.
- 09/2008: LJ leader Qari Zafar is suspected of involvement in the suicide bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad
- 03/2009: Attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore
- 11/2009: Bombing targeting the Deputy Inspector General of Police Operations
- 01/2010: Ambushing Hazara policemen in Quetta
- 03/2010: Twin suicide bombs detonate, killing at least fifty-seven and wounding ninety in Lahore’s RA Bazaar
- 03/2010: Kidnapping of British journalist Asad Qureshi and former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Colonel Armir Sultan. The kidnappers reportedly kill a third hostage, former Pakistan Air Force officer and former ISI member Khalid Khwaja
- 04/2010: Double suicide attack targeting refugees in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) killing an estimated forty-four people and injuring at least sixty-four
- 06/2010: Suicide attacks on Ahmedi places of worship in Lahore
- 08/2010: Four LJ operatives arrested for involvement in May 2010 attacks on Ahmedi mosques
- 05/2011: Small arms and grenade attack, killing eight Hazaras and wounding fifteen in Quetta
- 06/2011: Shooting dead the deputy director general of the Pakistani Sports Board in Quetta
- 06/2011: Shooting dead seven Hazara civilians and wounding six others in Quetta
- 07/2011: Shooting of passengers waiting at a bus terminal in Quetta, killing eleven people
- 07/2011: Attack on police in Quetta killing two police officers and a civilian
- 12/2011: Suicide bombing in crowd of Shia mourners in Kabul, killing forty-eight, including twelve children, and wounding 193
- 01/2012: Suicide bombing in bus of pilgrims traveling from Iran to Pakistan, killing fourteen and wounding thirty
- 09/2012: Detonating two explosions in Karachi, killing two children and wounding twenty-two
- 2013: Attacking crowded pool hall in Karachi, killing eighty
The LJ continues its activities and maintains affiliations with AQ while working closely with the Afghani Taliban and the Tehrik e Taliban Pakistan.
- Muhammad Ajmal (aka Akram Lahori): Co-founder, reportedly in detention since 2004, hanged in January 2015
- Malik Ishaque: Co-founder and most recent leader. Ishaque has been arrested and detained by Pakistani government on different occasions. However, each time after a period of detention, he has been released. Last arrest February 2013, with release in December 2014.
- Riaz Basra: Co-founder, reportedly KIA in 2002
- Qari Zafar: Reported KIA by UAV in February 2010
- Mehmood Babar: Chief or Karachi branch, arrested by Pakistani government in October 2012
Goals Overtly Declared
- Transform Pakistan into a Sunni state
- Establish Sharia in Pakistan
- Have all Shia declared non-believers
- Eliminate Shia, Jews, Christians and Hindus
- From low 100s to low 300s. Difficult to approximate since Pakistani extremists tend to affiliate with more than one group, therefore there are overlapping memberships. LJ also operates in small cells of five to eight members, which immediately disperse in order avoid detection.
Base of Operations
- Pakistan – Presence and activity in all provinces: Punjab, Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Baluchistan, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
- Donations from wealthy Pakistanis and Saudis
- Extortion and Bank Robberies
- Protection Money
- Online and print media
- Responsibilities for attacks claimed via fax to Pakistani media outlets
- Posting videos of killings online
Also Knows As (AKA)
- Army of Jhangvi
- Lashkar e Jhangvi