Lashkar-e-Jhangvi was formed when Sipah-e-Sahaba (SSP) activist Riaz Basra broke away from the SSP over differences with his seniors. The group is considered a terrorist organisation by Pakistan and the United States, and continues to be involved in attacks on Shi'a civilians and protectors of them. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is predominantly Punjabi. The group has been labelled by intelligence officials in Pakistan as a major security threat.
Basra, along with Akram Lahori and Malik Ishaq, separated from Sipah-e-Sahaba and formed Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in 1996. The newly formed group took its name from Haq Nawaz Jhangvi, one of the co-founders of the SSP. LJ's founders believed that the SSP had strayed from Jhangvi's ideals. Jhangvi was killed in a retaliatory bomb attack by Shia militants in 1990.
Riaz Basra gained notoriety when he orchestrated the assassination of Iranian diplomat Sadiq Ganji in Lahore. Basra was also involved in the killing of Iranian Air Force cadets visiting Pakistan in the early 1990s, when sectarian attacks on Shias in Pakistan were at their peak. Both acts occurred in the northern city of Rawalpindi and greatly disturbed contemporary Pakistan-Iran relations.
Malik Ishaq, the operational chief of LJ, was released after 14 years by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on 14 July 2011. In 2013, Ishaq was captured at his home in Rahim Yar Khan of the Punjab province.
LJ initially directed most of its attacks against the Pakistani Shia Muslim community. It also claimed responsibility for the 1997 killing of four U.S. oil workers in Karachi. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi attempted to assassinate Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (a Sunni) in 1999. Basra himself was killed in 2002 when an attack he was leading on a Shia settlement near Multan failed. Basra was killed due to the cross-fire between his group and police assisted by armed local Shia residents.
- In April 1999 the nephew of the then worldwide Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya community was assasinated. Some have since alleged the attack was carried about by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.
- In March 2002 LJ members bombed a bus, killing 15 people, including 11 French technicians.
- On 17 March 2002 at 11:00 am, two members of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi bombed the International Protestant Church in Islamabad during a church service. Five people were killed and 40 people were injured, mostly expatriates. In July 2002 Pakistani police killed one of the alleged perpetrators and arrested four Lashkar-e-Jhangvi members in connection with the church attack. The LJ members confessed to the killings and said the attack was in retaliation for the U.S. attack on Afghanistan.
- The Pakistani government Interior Ministry said that the suicide bomber involved in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, along with the death of 20 others in Rawalpindi, belonged to Lashkar-e-Jhangvi on 27 December 2007.
- Authorities believe Mohammed Aqeel, an LJ member, was the mastermind behind the March 2009 attack on the Sri Lanka national cricket team.
- LJ claimed responsibility for killing 26 Shia pilgrims on 20 September 2011 in the Mastung area of Balochistan. The pilgrims were travelling on a bus to Iran. In addition, 2 others were killed in a follow-up attack on a car on its way to rescue the survivors of the bus attack.
- Afghan President Hamid Karzai blamed LJ for a bombing that killed 59 people at Abu Fazal shrine in the Murad Khane district of Kabul on 6 December 2011. Most of the dead were pilgrims marking Ashoura, the holiest day in the Shia calendar.
- Lashkar-i-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for 13 lives lost in brutal attack on Shia pilgrims. QUETTA, 28 June: At least 13 people, two women and a policeman among them, were killed and over 20 others injured on Thursday in a bomb attack on a bus mainly carrying Shia pilgrims returning from Iran. Most of the pilgrims belonged to the Hazara community.
- Claimed responsibility for February 2013 Quetta bombings in Pakistan killing 81 and wounding 178, mostly Shia people.
LJ has ties to the Taliban, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), Sipah-e-Sahaba (SSP), Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), al-Qaeda, and Jundallah. In addition to receiving sanctuary from the Taliban in Afghanistan for their activity in Pakistan, LJ members fought alongside Taliban fighters. Pakistani government investigations in 2002 revealed that Al Qaeda has been involved with training of LJ, and that LJ fighters also fought alongside the Taliban against the Afghan Northern Alliance. The Pakistan Interior Minister, speaking of LeJ members, stated: "They have been sleeping and eating together, receiving training together, and fighting against the Northern Alliance together in Afghanistan."
Designation as a terrorist organization
The Government of Pakistan designated the LJ a terrorist organization in August 2001, and the U.S. classified it as a Foreign Terrorist Organization under U.S. law in January 2003. As a result, its finances are blocked worldwide by the U.S government.
The group was strongly condemned by Imran Khan of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, following the February 2013 Quetta bombing in which over 80 Shi'a Hazara civilians were killed. Khan demanded that the LeJ culprits behind the attack be brought to justice and that a special court be set up for trying them.
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- "Pakistan Faces New Wave of Attacks". Wall Street Journal. 15 October 2009. Retrieved 24 September 2013. "In March, gunmen attacked the Sri Lankan cricket team during its visit to Lahore, killing six police officers. That attack, officials say, was masterminded by Mohammed Aqeel, also known as Dr. Usman, a member of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a banned Punjabi militant outfit with strong links to the main Pakistan Taliban faction and al Qaeda. Mr. Aqeel also led the attack on the military headquarters in Rawalpindi, officials say, and was captured in the attack."
- "Gunmen attack bus in Balochistan, 26 killed". The Express Tribune. 20 September 2011.
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- 18 Shias Killed in Pak Bus Massacre PTI | Rezaul H Laskar | Islamabad | 28 February 2012
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- U.S. Department of State:Designation of Lashkar I Jhangvi as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, 2003[dead link]
- U.S Treasury Department:Treasury Department Statement Regarding the Designation of Lashkar i Jhangvi, 2003, downloaded from Google cache, 29 September 2005
- People's Daily: "Explosion in Islamabad Kills Four, Wounds 40"
An early version of this article was adapted from the public domain U.S. federal government sources.