Lashkar-E-Jhangvi – LeJ (the Army of Punjab in Urdu) is a Militant terror Islamic group in Pakistan formed in 1996 by Riaz Basra, who quitted the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) Sunni sectarian outfit, over differences with his senior Maulana Azam Tariq.
Unlike other militant organizations in Pakistan, who were focused on Kashmir, Afghanistan and the intervention of USA in Pakistan, Sipah-e-Sahaba and its offshoot Lashkar-E-Jhangvi, were aimed against non Sunnis in Pakistan homeland, especially Shiites, about 20% of Pakistan’s population and Christians, less then 3%. Lashkar-E-Jhangvi is deeply influenced by the Wahhabi school in Islam which refers to Shiites us infidels.
Riaz Basra was already notorious for coordinating the assassination of an Iranian (Shiite) diplomat Sadiq Ganji in Lahore, the capital of Punjab, in 1990.
Riaz Basra was also involved in the killing of Iranian Air Force Cadets visiting Pakistan in the early 1990s, when sectarian attacks on Shiaas in Pakistan were at their peak, in Rawalpindi. Both attacks greatly disturbed contemporary Pakistan-Iran relations. Riaz Basra was arrested after the attacks but, eventually, managed to escape the Pakistani jail, in 1997, with his associate Qari Abdul-Hayee.
Riaz Basra himself was killed, on 05/14/2002, in cross-fire between his group and police assisted by armed local Shiaa residents in Multan, central Pakistan. Riaz Basra was replaced by Muhammad Ajmal, alias Akram Lahori, who was arrested a month later, on 06/17/2002. The new Lashkar-E-Jhangvi’s leader Asif Chotto was arrested, on 09/28/2005, after yet another bloody attack on Shiites a day earlier. Asif Chotto led security officials to a home in Rawalpindi where a man identified as Rashid, also known as Shahid Satti, was arrested for possible involvement in anti-Shiite attacks.
Asif Chotto, and his accomplice Shahid Satti, were behind the killing of five Iranian cadets at Choor Chowk in Rawalpindi in the early 1990s’. Usman Chotto, the brother of Asif Chotto, was arrested in Karachi, Pakistan, on12/20/2005.
Lashkar-E-Jhangvi carried out over 300 terror attacks, including dozens of suicide attacks, most of them against Shiites in Pakistan, over the years 1996-2002, and many more attacks afterwards. Lashkar-E-Jhangvi is one of the deadliest and dangerous terror organizations in the Islamic terror conglomerate of Pakistan. Since Lashkar-E-Jhangvi operated almost solely inside Pakistan the organization is relatively unknown outside the country.
Lashkar-E-Jhangvi fought two Shiite militias in Pakistan, formed initially to provide protection to the Shiaa community in Pakistan: Tarik-e-Pakistan (The Road of Pakistan) and Tarik-e-Jaafriya (The Road to Victory). Both were affiliated to Iran and eventually opposed the USA and Pervez Musharraf’s regime, allied to America. Both militias were, therefore, cracked down by the Pakistani authorities.
Pakistani intelligence sources said Bhutto’s assassination, on 12/27/2007, was committed by a Lashkar-E-Jhangvi member.
Today (03/2009) Lashkar-E-Jhangvi continues to carry out bloody attacks on Shiites in Pakistan, though it is not fully clear who is coordinating its operations.
* Following yet another bloody attack on Hazara Shiites in Quetta, in which 80 people were killed in an explosion in a vegetable market, Pakistani police arrested, on 02/22/2013, Malik Ishaq (pic), suspected to be the leader of the banned Lashkar-E-Jhangvi.
Maliq Ishaq and his associates have been investigated in the past. Ishaq himself was imprisoned for 14 years on charges, never proven, of killing Shiits. He was released in 07/2011. Maliq Ishaq was also briefly detained last year following attacks against Shiaas.
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