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A suicide attack tore through a crowd of worshippers in Kabul on Tuesday as they marked the holy day of Ashura. —AFP Photo
A suicide attack tore through a crowd of worshippers in Kabul on Tuesday as they marked the holy day of Ashura. —AFP Photo

ISLAMABAD: Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, the terror group blamed for deadly attacks on Shias in Afghanistan this week, has forged ties to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in a murderous campaign to wage sectarian warfare.

Since its inception in 1996 by a religious extremist, the faction has claimed to have killed thousands of Shias in bombings and shootings across Pakistan.

It takes its name from Maulana Haq Nawaz Jhangvi, the founder of terror group Sipah-e-Sahaba from which leader Riaz Basra broke, and preaches indiscriminate violence against Shias.

A suicide attack tore through a crowd of worshippers in Kabul on Tuesday as they marked the holy day of Ashura, killing 55 people, as a second blast in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif left four more dead.

There has been no confirmation of a purported claim from Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) splinter al-Alami, but Kabul blamed the group for Tuesday’s massacre, unprecedented in targeting such an important religious holiday in Afghanistan.

LeJ is not thought to have struck in Afghanistan before.

“We will pursue this issue with Pakistan and its government very seriously,” said Afghan President Hamid Karzai, threatening to ratchet up tensions with Islamabad which are already frayed over accusations of sponsoring violence.

Afghan officials say the motive was to inflame a 10-year Taliban insurgency and drastically increase violence by importing Pakistan and Iraq-style sectarian conflict as Nato combat troops prepare to leave by the end of 2014.

A substantial rise in sectarian unrest could also draw arch US foe Iran deeper into Afghanistan, threatening to whip up proxy wars.

The Taliban denied involvement, but in a cauldron of violence where religious terror groups are interlinked and have overlapping allegiances, experts say it would have been impossible for the LIJ killers to have acted alone.

As with Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and other terror groups the world over, LeJ was born from the ashes of the 1980s Afghan war against the Soviet Union.

The group’s leaders were veterans of that conflict and its ranks populated by graduates of madrassas packed off to terror training camps in the mountains on the Afghan-Pakistani border.

It developed close ties to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, which ruled in Kabul from 1996 until the 2001 US-led invasion.

Pakistan formally banned the group in 2001 and there have been numerous crackdowns with arrests and killings of known Jhangvi operatives over the last 20 years.

Islamabad has asked Afghanistan to provide proof that Jhangvi militants were responsible for Tuesday’s attack, but it is understood that Afghan officials do not have any hard evidence.

One official said the bomber was a Pakistani from Kurram, part of Pakistan’s tribal region with Afghanistan, and a specific flashpoint for sectarian unrest.

But as long as doubts persist over the al-Alami claim, it remains unclear how exactly the group could have carried out the attack.

“The question is, how credible is the claim? Some Taliban groups can do the same as they share school of thought with LeJ,” said Pakistani-based security analyst Hasan Askari.

Militancy expert Rahimullah Yusufzai also doubted the claim, saying that the splinter group’s capacity is very limited even in Pakistan, which has seen a recent decline in attacks linked to its own bloody Taliban insurgency.

“There is one possibility that this group may have support of Al-Qaeda, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or some of the rogue elements inside Afghanistan,” Yusufzai.

Jhangvi’s founder Basra has been dead for a number of years. Reports differ on whether he was killed in an explosion or a shootout with security forces.

A senior Pakistani security official said LeJ and other extremist groups are “hand in glove with the Taliban”.

“But they cannot carry out such an attack on their own. This would have surely been a Taliban-connected operation,” he told AFP.

“Al-Alami are basically the Punjabi Taliban, who were involved in the attack on (army) GHQ (general headquarters) two years ago,” he added.

Comments (14) Closed

Kashif Dec 08, 2011 06:39pm
we know all know how credible Hamid Karzai is, and his ties with India. So it doesnt surprise me when he acts in the same way as indians. But the question that troubles me is that why Pakistan Govt is not sincere to crackdown these radical elements like Laskhar-e-Jhangvi? Why cant we convict them and hang them for the killings? I read the news that these groups threatens the Judges & Prosecutors but how difficult is to maintain identity anonymous. I worry where will this violence will take us
Syed Dec 08, 2011 11:31pm
Pakistani authorities worry that taking action against LeJ might inflame a reciprocation. The authorities have lost their faith in doing the right.
Ali Khan Dec 09, 2011 07:48am
I wonder how a President of the state can inflict accusation on the other sovereign state without having any single piece of evidence. it is quite obvious and the history of the blaming state is evident that the Govt is a complete failure in providing security and the fingers are always pointed in order to hide their own drifts.
anony Dec 09, 2011 09:05am
I absolutely agree with Kashif's post.
Ashutosh Pandey Dec 09, 2011 10:16am
These terror outfits are responsible for tarnishing Pakistan's image globally. Pak must do something concrete to hold or control them.
Eddie Dec 09, 2011 06:18pm
Pakistan reputation in the world is about as low as it can go. You are viewed as the school for terrorists ( Madrassas ) and a supporter of extreme religious views (blasphemy laws) This will continue until your politicians can find a way to control the fanatics that preach intolerance and feed your media with conspiracy theories that blame everyone in the western world for the problems you have created in your own country.
raika45 Dec 09, 2011 06:25pm
Most of your terror problems are the doing of your governments.Both past and present.You created the taliban on the urging of America to counter the mujaheddin that was creating havoc in Afghanistan.Your army created the rest of the holi poli elements to create trouble in Indian occupied Kashmir.When Pakistan agreed to help America in its attack on Afghanistan the taliban took offence.When the Indian army took the "take no prisoners" [that is shoot them dead]policy your so called liberators went back to Pakistan.Your army has lost control of them.They are now creating mayhem all over.The question is this. Why is your army or police launching an all out assault on them?Unless your army has other ideas for the future.In the mean time innocents will continue to die.
raika45 Dec 09, 2011 06:30pm
To the moderators. I made a mistake. Please add the word "not" in my sentence that reads" why is your police and army NOT launching an allout attack".Sorry for the inconvenience.
sudhir Dec 09, 2011 07:20pm
Anand Dec 09, 2011 09:11pm
Wrong. Better nations with more arms have come and gone. Sovereignty is not a birthright, not guaranteed. It is a Privilege, to be cherished, and used to do good for the world. And it is accorded by the worlds nations to those that use it responsible. Sovereignty abused (to launch attacks on others) is sovereignty lost.
Mohammad A Dar Dec 09, 2011 05:14pm
Indians have to look at their own contribution to mayhem, If it was not criminality of India against Muslims and criminality of the west against Muslims and Islam, no one had to pickup arms. look at your own illegal and inhuman actions against rightful and than lay your acquisitions where they belong, not with Pakistan as you hind, lie .
asif Dec 09, 2011 11:45pm
Who trusts Karzai's statments? He use to stay in Quetta in his huge palace and travel around world like a king while hundreds were killed in Afghanistan. Now he became the King again and tries to threaten the same people to whom he use to beg? Why cant he just gets his Afghan Refugee from our country and leave us alone?
Hidayat Khan Dec 10, 2011 02:11am
The Afghan govt has no proof for the alleged involvement of LJ, but the author is happened to be so enthusiastic that he put words into their mouths and blamed Pakistan straight away the next day by writing this little piece of valued information. Can someone pinpoint just one country where its intelligence agencies and their performance are being discussed live on air on daily bases? It has become fashionable to criticise vital state actors and institutions in Pakistan by half trained journalists and TV presenters. It’s about time that the govt put some curbs on this unruly media and save the State of Pakistan from self immolation.
Hasan Dec 09, 2011 10:12pm
When Jhangvi group has accepted responsibility for hundreds of terrorist attacks on Shia Muslims across Pakistan, then Hamid Karzai's statement against the same group can not be totally dismissed.