The fission of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi

Published: November 17, 2010
Militant outfit splinters into smaller cells for effective coordination of terror activities

Militant outfit splinters into smaller cells for effective coordination of terror activities

ISLAMABAD: Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), the homegrown sectarian-jihadi outfit with strong links to al-Qaeda, is in the process of splitting its strength into at least eight small cells to better coordinate its activities from Karachi to Waziristan, according to sources in Kohat, Hangu, Peshawar and Lahore.

“Each sub-group is responsible for carrying out activities in a specific geographic location,” disclosed one of the sources on condition of anonymity. Individuals having connections within the group and intelligence officials tackling them said the move appeared to be an attempt to outsmart Pakistani law enforcement agencies.

“It looks like they [LeJ strategists] don’t want to put all their eggs in one basket,” explained a local intelligence official. “It’s a typical guerilla warfare and urban militancy technique. With scattered cells, they have better chances of survival by diverting the focus of law enforcement agencies,” added the official.

The LeJ—an anti-Shia terror icon dominated by militants from Punjab —has established safe hideouts inside North Waziristan, the area controlled by the network of veteran Afghan jihadist, Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani.

While there are hardly any significant signs suggesting that the Haqqani network is directly supporting anti-Pakistan LeJ activists, security officials contend the two groups have one strong commonality that keeps them connected—both take pride of being staunch allies of Arab al-Qaeda.


The LeJ’s cell for Karachi and Balochistan has been named ‘Jundullah’ but it operates separately from an existing organisation of the same name, led by separatist Iranian Sunnis, that is also active in the region.

“That’s where intelligence agencies’ personnel are often mistaken. They sometimes confuse activists from one group with the other,” an official in Sindh’s Crime Investigation Department (CID) said.

The LeJ is the biggest group operating in Karachi and of 246 terrorists arrested from the city since 2001, 94 belonged to LeJ, according to a secret report by the CID.

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al-Almi

This group, headed by Maulana Abdul Khalil, a fugitive militant leader from central Punjab, operates mostly in central parts of Punjab and the tribal areas. The group works in close connection with al Qaeda and its activists are used as foot soldiers for Arab-dominated terror group’s plots inside Pakistan.

Asian Tigers

This group emerged after the recent disappearance of a British journalist of Pakistani origin and two former pro-Taliban personnel of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) in North Waziristan. Officials believe it is one of the offshoots of the LeJ and is using a different name to spread confusion.

Like the LeJ itself, the Asian Tigers are dominated by Punjabi militants but some Mehsud militants are affiliated with it as well.

Junoodul Hafsa

This group comprises militants that aim to exact revenge for the storming of Islamabad’s Lal Masjid and its affiliated female seminary, Jamia Hafsa, in a military operation in 2007.

The group operates in close coordination with Ghazi Force, a network named after one of the two clerics of Lal Masjid, Maulana Abdul Rasheed Ghazi, who was killed in the operation.

The outfit, led by a former student of Lal Masjid, Maulana Niaz Rahim, operates out of Ghaljo area of the Orakzai Agency and the adjacent Hangu district and targets military installations and personnel in parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and upper Punjab, especially Islamabad.

Punjabi Taliban

Several small cells operate under this umbrella outfit including those belonging to Usman Punjabi, Qari Imran, Amjad Farooqi and Qari Zafar. These cells generally target Punjab.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 17th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (18)

  • Danish
    Nov 17, 2010 - 1:48PM

    Doesn’t it seem like all the effort made to crush the terrorism and extremism by force has proved worthless? The extremists seem to be getting stronger and consolidating their position in this country. What masses of our country need is not exhibition of strong military power but efforts to better their ideology for which the education system of the country needs to be made better. Although this is a very slow process, it seems to be the only way out of this quagmire.Recommend

  • Nov 17, 2010 - 2:24PM

    I may not be taken as Ahmadi,but the fact is that in the name of Khatm e Nabooat religous elements took guns in their hands.These are parents of Sipah e Sihaba funded by Iraq,Kuwait and S.Arabia officially in Zia era.Recommend

  • Rahul
    Nov 17, 2010 - 2:42PM

    Asian Tiger’s just got a new meaning. Might I say, a radical one. Recommend

  • el
    Nov 17, 2010 - 3:24PM


  • Syed
    Nov 17, 2010 - 5:46PM

    well LEJ born out of Sipah e Sahaba and their fathers are Deobandies and Wahabies. Their other child Al Qiada has grown out of proportion with full financial and admin support from US/Western/Arab countries for destroying Islam from with in. Recommend

  • E.Aziz
    Nov 17, 2010 - 6:17PM

    The war against terror started from Kabul and coming down the line to the Punjab now. Karachi is very important for city and it would not become Peshawar, i see the final showdown of this war here. Recommend

  • iWatch
    Nov 17, 2010 - 7:23PM

    You cant just take up names from events previously reported events and concoct them into a meaningless report. This sounds more like a figment of the author’s imagination than anything based on reality.

    What are your sources again: “Individuals having connections within the group and intelligence officials tackling them” P-lease!!

    Mr Khan, if you are trying to convince you readers, for me at least, you’re gonna hafta do better than this!!Recommend

  • Sara Perriard Noor
    Nov 17, 2010 - 8:15PM

    ‘The LeJ—an anti-Shia terror’ — Sir, please, bombarding mosques and mausoleums that Sunnis pay deep respect to is rampant, not just Shias. This Deobandi/Wahabbi group is inevitably against almost 85% of the population in Pakistan. Almost all of these terror outfits have one agenda that is to hurt Muslims across the nation. Not a single Jew has been touched—let alone injured by them within living memory, only Muslims do they target.Recommend

  • Ali K Chishti
    Nov 17, 2010 - 9:44PM

    Badly researched piece. Recommend

  • Postmodernist
    Nov 18, 2010 - 12:24AM

    Dear Sara,
    Indeed now these groups are against almost every decent living being on earth but Zia with Saudi funding started them with one aim and that was to terrorize Shiites of Pakistan. From 80s up till 9/11 when only Shiites were being targeted unfortunately majority of Pakistanis were looking the other way-without realizing that this monster will one haunt everyone eventually. Now every non wahabi/salafi muslim is a heretic, therefore qualifies for the most severe punishment according to Wahabi doctrine.

    The writer of this article did a great job by shedding light on one of the most ruthless Wahabi/Salafi militant groups but the picture is even bleaker. These groups cannot work without the support of their partners in political garb. Religio-political groups provide political cover to the activities of these terror groups, they provide sanctuaries to their terrorists prior to and after the target killings and bombing raids are conducted in cities. They prevent any significant legislations against terrorists. And worst of all-military establishment still want to keep N.Waziristan as a safe haven for their mercenaries in Haqqani group-which also provide cover to LeJ and its off shoots. Recommend

  • Nov 18, 2010 - 3:43AM

    As I keep saying no two mullahs can unite – this is the reason we Pakistanis need to get away from the cult of the Mullahs and follow IslamRecommend

  • Mike Sullivan
    Nov 18, 2010 - 5:49AM

    More thought effort and time must have gone into the making of the illustration in this piece than the actual write-up.Recommend

  • Arijit Sharma
    Nov 18, 2010 - 11:55AM

    Is this splintering a good thing or a bad thing ? For India ? For Pakistan ?Recommend

  • Someone
    Nov 18, 2010 - 4:59PM

    “This group comprises militants that aim to exact revenge for the storming of Islamabad’s Lal Masjid and its affiliated female seminary, Jamia Hafsa, in a military operation in 2007.”

    Funny how some militant groups after all these years are only focused on exacting revenge on some event which happened 3 years ago. What about the thousands that got killed in seperate incidents afterwards? Who cares about some radicals in that mosque! Its the innocent people who died. Recommend

  • Humanity
    Nov 18, 2010 - 9:49PM

    It is apparent the extremists are preparing their long term strategy to take control on the country. Moderates seem to be at a loss as the brilliant minds struggle to formulate a strategy to tackle the issues and how to overcome the transgressions and follies of this nation since its inception.

    Any right minded person who genuinely cares for the welfare of this nation would be deeply concerned. It seems that in their delusion of being superior Muslims, Pakistan dug a deep hole for itself and is now standing unguided and helpless at the edge of an abyss.

    From humanity’s simple yet time tested point of view, nothing short of a miracle can deprogram the mindset to reverse its dead-end course towards self-destruction.

    Any God-fearing person can see the moral and temporal society-wide collapse that is already in progress. Those who truly believe in Allah(swt) should fall prostrate in repentance and should beseech His guidance, before He waylays the transgressors, the people whom He considers as having gone astray. Yes, faith indeed can move mountains and change the destiny of a nation.

    As Pakistanis celebrate Eid-ul-Azha in remembrance of Prophet Ibrahim’s (as) obedience to Allah(swt), it is imperative to reflect on the blessings that Allah(swt) bestowed on Prohphet Ibrahim(as) as his reward. Prophet Ibrahim(sa) did not want his children to be unguided and thus he prayed for prophets among his progeny to guide them. Allah(swt) rewarded his obedience by answering his supplications. Prophet Ibrahim’s(sa) progeny was blessed with a succession of prophets over the centuries. Allah (swt) showered His mercy for the mankind in the person of the Holy Prohphet Mohammad(swt), through whom He completed His message of love and mercy for the universe.

    Allah(awt) taught people to seek His help through individual and collective prayers. It is clear that even God’s holy prophets prayed for Allah’s(swt) help and guidance. As the nation stand at the perilous juncture, it is incumbent upon the nation to pray for Allah’s(swt) guidance as taught in the oft-repeated seven beautiful versus of the Holy Book which form the opening chapter of the Holy Book, makes it clear that the path of intolerance and bigotry can never ever be the straight path, which leads towards Allah’s pleasure. Among Allah’s(swt) favors, is being given a genuine guide/leader who leads to the straight path and helps people to not go astray. This unguided nation lacks a genuine guide; one who leads to the path of love and mercy, following in the foot steps of the Holy Prophet (saw), the mercy for the entire universe.

    The delusional mindset can only be changed through cleansing the minds of bigotry and hatred and by seeking Allah’s hand for His guidance. Only then does Allah bestow His favors by showing the straight path through his guides. Leaders and guides are given to those who fear Allah(swt) and seek His guidance through humility. The arrogant who think they are self-sufficient and independent of divine help are left to wander and wither away in darkness.

    May Allah open the closed minds and help this nation to realize its true destiny., which can be achieved only by becoming a tolerant and benevolent people. Ameen.Recommend

  • akhtar
    Nov 19, 2010 - 11:12AM

    The only way-out is social development. Unfortunately we are cutting our development budget day by day and increasing non development budget. 100% of the rural population is being educated by Mullahs in Madarsas. So the situation is going bad to worse.Recommend

  • S.Haque
    Nov 19, 2010 - 1:36PM

    Who gives a damn about the crackpots killed in lal masjid, didnt the people of Pakistan and the residenst of Islamabd have had enough of those baton wielding beings let loose on the people with their warped version of religion. And I wonder what did the monsters get when they killed people in Mumbai. Is there any end to this sick jahalat? Recommend

  • Nasir
    Nov 22, 2010 - 11:18AM

    terrorist organizations are a real threat to humanity and must be crushed accordingly.Recommend

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