Then on February 16, 2013, a bomb that had been hidden in a water-tank exploded in a busy food market in Quetta, killing 90 people, most of them Shias. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi again claimed responsibility. A week later, the current head of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Malik Ishaq, was arrested.
On February 22, the Punjab Police released their ‘Most Wanted Terrorists’ list, naming 109 men. The first surprise – not a single member of Lashkar-e-Taiba [LeT], the terror organization responsible for the brutal massacre in Mumbai in 2008, made the list. 109 slots – no LeT. Topping the updated Pakistan terror list is Lashkar-e-Jhangvi [LeJ], the terror outfit who, according to Interior Minister Malik, is responsible for or tied to 80 percent of terror activities in Pakistan.
This shift is due to a combination of changes – the primary being that members of Lashkar-e-Taiba have been killed in action, rounded up, put on trial, executed, and the testimony of Ajmal Kasab, the sole surviving LeT terrorist from the Mumbai Massacre, gave up extensive operational details of ongoing LeT terror plots. The secondary shift is political in nature, and denotes a successful campaign by LeT to bolster appeal with the population in the areas of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan.
For the past few years, Lashkar-e-Taiba has been working through its charity organization, Jamaat-ud-Dawa [JuD], to build rapport with local populations in the Kashmir region through altruism and propaganda. JuD runs hospitals and schools in the region, and the de facto head of Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, has tacked in public to making predominantly political statements – downplaying his connections to terrorism, and presenting himself as a rational voice for political change.
This “kinder and gentler” version of LeT and JuD is tactical – the United States has declared their intention to leave the region, and the players are lining up to fill the void. Despite LeT being listed with the UN as a Terror Organization, and despite the U.S. putting a 10 million dollar bounty on his head, Saeed lives relatively peacefully in his home in Lahore, with full cooperation of the local police, carefully culling political power and downplaying LeT’s intensely violent terror campaigns.
Coordination and cooperation with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence [ISI], which spawned Lashkar-e-Taiba in the first place, has effectively reduced the urgency to investigate and apprehend members of Lashkar-e-Taiba. Hafiz Saeed is becoming the new Arafat.
This leaves Pakistan with a focal pivot to the Punjab, where Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has been tearing it up. As back-to-back bombings occurred in Quetta, the Shia population took to protesting, refusing to bury their dead until the Pakistan police and military stepped up their focus on LeJ.
The release of the updated terror list from Pakistan prompted a February 26th article in The Atlantic titled “The Taliban’s New, More Terrifying Cousin,” profiling Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. Are they new? Not hardly. LeJ goes way back, but considering that many Americans still haven’t much of a clue who Lashkar-e-Taiba are, it is a safe bet Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is a new name in the media.
So let’s meet the newer, or now more notorious, face of terror in Pakistan. Make no mistake, this a brutal, dangerous, vicious terror organization:
Origins and Body Count of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi
The terrific Bill Roggio at Long War Journal has a nice summary of LeJ:
The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is an anti-Shia terror group that has integrated with al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan’s tribal areas. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has an extensive network in Pakistan and often serves as al Qaeda’s muscle for terror attacks. The group has conducted numerous suicide and other terror attacks inside Pakistan and Afghanistan. In particular, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is well known for carrying out sectarian terror attacks against minority Shia, Ahmadis, Sufis, and Christians in Pakistan.
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has two primary goals: killing Shias and, of course, establishing the Caliphate. For now, they excel at killing Shias. The current estimate of Shias killed by LeJ in the Punjab alone is around 1300 people. Videos of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi beheading people are out on the internet and they are extremely gruesome. I am torn about linking one here, because I do not want to participate in promoting the fear and propaganda of these savages, nor tie SOFREP to them. On the other hand, the trend of downplaying the brutality of terrorists in the media is equally disturbing to me. So in compromise, here is how you can view the video if you choose:
Warning: Extremely graphic. You cannot UNsee this. In lieu of a link, just google: beheading video lashkar-e-jhangvi. It is currently hosted on mcrtv.org.
If you choose not to view the video, which is probably the better choice, here is a description: Throw out any Hollywood notions you may have about a beheading. This is not a great big sword, a clean sweep and a head falling off the victim in one slice. These executions are done with short blades and a lot of hacking and sawing. They are horrific. They are filmed because they are horrific. They are a great source of pride to the members of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and they are distributed as both a badge of honor for the killers and a warning to the people of the region they terrorize.
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is not new. It was officially formed back in 1996 as a spinoff from the terror outfit Sipah e Sahaba [SSP], which was formed in 1985. SSP began as a political party aimed at eradicating Shi’ite Muslims from Pakistan. Members of the SSP actually held seats in the Pakistan National Assembly in the 1990s, but by 2002 their ties to terrorist activities got them officially named a terror organization, and the SSP was officially banned in 2012.
However, as far back as the late 1990s, several members of Sipah-e-Sahaba decided the organization just wasn’t violent enough, and they formed the spin-off group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, named for Maulana Haq Nawaz Jhangvi, one of the founding members of SSP who was assassinated by Shias in 1990. LeJ was founded by SSP members Riaz Basra and Akram Lahori. The ideology of LeJ is to convert all of Pakistan to a Sunni state, through all means necessary, especially violent methods.
Led initially by Basra, LeJ immediately began a violent campaign in the Punjab region before they were officially a separate outfit. Lahori and LeJ comrades trained for their terrorist raids in al-Qaeda camps in Surobi, Afghanistan. Basra was eventually killed in a botched attack on a Shia target in the Punjab in 2002, and so Lahori took over LeJ operations and went on a Shia killing spree in Karachi, racking up a substantial body count there.
Lahori was arrested in Karachi in June 2002 and remains in police custody pending trial. (Witnesses for his trial keep ending up dead, go figure.) After his arrest, the police in Karachi released a list of Lahori’s crimes:
According to the list, Akram Lahori killed Syed Akhter Hussain Rizvi on May 3, 2001, within the limits of Korangi police station; Dr Asad Ali Bukhari on June 26, 2001, in Saeedabad; Dr Mohammad Raza Pirani on July 18, 2001, in Soldier Bazaar; Syed Mushtaq Haider on July 20, 2001, within the jurisdiction of Brigade police station, Shaukat Ali Mirza, PSO MD and Salman Shah on July 26, 2001, in Frere area, Hamiod Rizvi on Sept 1, 2001, in Clifton area; Syed Razi Haider Najfi and Basit Ali Najfi on Sept 12, 2001, within the limits of Gizri police station; Waseem, Gulzar Hussain, Jabbar Hussain, Faizan, Ghulam Rasool and Mohammad Raza Zaidi on Oct 4, 2001, in Mehmoodabad area; Ehteshamuddin Haider on Dec 21, 2001, in jurisdiction of Soldier Bazaar; Syed Jawad Hussain Rizvi, on Jan 29, 2002, in Darakhshan; Sadiq Ali Hamsheri on Feb 3, 2002, in Kharadar; Dr Rashid Mehdi on Feb 12, 2002, in the limits of Mominabad police station; Dr Aal-i-Safdar Zaidi on March 4, 2002, in Gizri area, Dr Muzzafar Ali Samoo on March 7, 2002, in the limits of Baghdadi police station; Anwer Ali Tirmezi and Zulfiqar Haider on March 11, 2002, in the jurisdiction of Shah Faisal Colony police station; Constable Faiz-ul-Islam on March 11, 2002, in Korangi Industrial Area; Qazim Hussain Jafery on March 21, 2002, in Mehmoodabad; Muhammad Nazeer on April 7, 2002, in Rizvia area; Abul Khair alias Asfahan Haider on April 9, 2002, in the limits of North Nazimabad police station; Aal-i-Ubah Rizvi and Nasir Ali on April 24, 2002, in Peerabad; Syed Zafar Mehdi Zaidi, Mir Zaman and Mukhtar Ahmed on May 6, 2002, in the limits of Al-Falah police station; Agha Abbas and Gul Zaman on May 25, 2002, in Rizvia area and Nadeem Hussain on May 28, 2002, in Aziz Bhatti area were also killed by Akram Lahori during the last 25 months.
According to the list, he also injured Raza Hussain and Faizan Hussain on May 9, 2001, in Mominabad; Dr Aal-i-Hasan Zaidi on June 7, 2001, within the limits of Frere police station; Mohammad Jahangir on July 18, 2001, in Shershah; Syed Nasir Hussain on Aug 22, 2001, in Nazimabad; Mohammad Ali on Sept 12, 2001, in the limits of Gizri police station; Iftikhar Hussain, Ghaffar Hussain, Haji Azhar Hussain, Azhar Hussain, Nadeem Abbas and Mohsin Ali on Oct 4, 2001, in Mehmoodabad; Amir Abbas on Nov 15, 2001, in the limits of Korangi Industrial Area; Zamurrud Hussain Jaffery on Jan 29, 2002, in Darakhshan area; Syed Azhar Hussain Zaidi and Syed Asher Hussain Zaidi on Feb 6, 2002, in the limits of Shah Faisal Colony police station; Syed Ghayoor Abbas and Arshad Aziz on Feb 8, 2002, in the jurisdiction of Korangi Industrial Area police station; Ahsan Ali and Firdous on Feb 11, 2002, in Saddar area; Constable Naimat Khan on March 11, 2002, in the limits of Korangi Industrial Area police station; Fazal Karim and Rizwan Akhter on March 21, 2002, in Mehmoodabad; Fahad Raza Rizvi on April 24, 2002, in Peerabad area; Gul Zaman on May 25, 2002 in Rizvia area; Tanveer Hussain on May 28, 2002, in Aziz Bhatti area and Asghar Shah on June 5, 2002, in the limits of Darakhshan police station.
Meanwhile, as per his own statement, Akram confessed to investigators in Karachi that he was involved in 30 cases in Punjab.
And that’s just Karachi. In the Punjab, Lahori and LeJ had their first headliner hit by killing six Iranian cadets in 1992. Lahori and LeJ coordinated the 1997 jail break from Dera Ghazi Khan. In 1998 Lahori and LeJ killed 28 people attending a Majlis in Mominpura, Lahore. In 2000 they gunned down Deputy Superintendent of Police Lahore Tariq Kamboh and his driver in a motorcycle ambush. In 2002, LeJ terrorists killed 11 worshipers in a gun and grenade attack on Shah-i-Najaf Imambargah at Khyaban-i-Sir Syed. And the list goes on:
Kotwali, Jhang, Oct 12; Nov 17 (2 cases) and Dec 6, all in 1991; Millat Park, Lahore, April 26, 1992; Kotwali, Jhang, June 6, 1992; Jhang, July 7, 1992; Kotwali, Jhang, Nov 17, 1992 (two cases); Kotwali, Jhang, Aug 15, 1993; Mazang, Lahore, April 5, 1994; Old Anarkali, Lahore, April 30, 1994; Model Town, Lahore, Sept 19, 1994; Kotwali, Jhang, Jan 1, 1995; Nawankot, Lahore, March 7, 1995; Shadman, Lahore, Jan 9, 1996; Iqbal Town, Lahore, Jan 15, 1996; Old Kotwali, Multan, Feb 20, 1997; A-Division, Sheikhupura, Feb 22, 1997 (two cases); South Cantonment, Lahore, July 22, 1997; Qila Deedar Singh, Gujranwala, June 21, 1998; Qila Gujjar Singh, Lahore, Sept 11, 1998; Waris Khan, Rawalpindi, Dec 4, 2000.
Lahori was sentenced to death in 2003 for the 2002 assassination of a Shia doctor,Safdar Zaidi, and two other Shia leaders, Anwar Tirmizi and Zulfiqar Haider in a separate event also in 2002. However, he remains in police custody, where he has been since, pending the outcome of numerous other trials for his terrorism. In August last year, Lahori and 37 other inmates belonging to Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, Jundullah and other militant organizations, who were being held in Hyderabad, India, were shifted back to the Karachi Central Jail under threat of attacks in Hyderabad.
Next: Lashkar-e-Jhangvi under Malik Ishaq – bloodier and bolder.