Riaz Basra

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Riaz Basra
Born 1967
Sargodha, Pakistan
Died 2002
Dokota, Vehari district, Pakistan
Buried at (Khurhseed,[1] Sargodha)
Allegiance Sipah Sahaba Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Taliban

Riaz Basra (1967 – 14 May 2002) was, with Akram Lahori a.k.a. Muhammad Ajmal and Malik Ishaq, a founder of the militant organization Lashkar-e-Jhangvi during 1996.[2][3]


Riaz Basra was born to Ghulam Muhammad and Jalal Bibi in Chak Chah Thandiwala, Sargodha, in 1967. He studied at madrassas in Lahore and Sargodha before joining the political party Sipah-e-Sahaba in 1985. Basra allegedly fought in the Afghan War on the mujahideen side, receiving a bullet wound in the leg.[4]

Among his objectives was the establishment of a Sunni Islamic Emirate in Pakistan and the declaration of Shias as non-Muslims. Although he relied on violent tactics to achieve his objectives, in 1988, he had also tried his luck, unsuccessfully, for an assembly seat from Lahore, Punjab.[5]

Basra was alleged to be involved in killings of hundreds of Shias, including Shia doctors, policemen, lawyers, in killing Iranian diplomat Sadiq Ganji in 1990 and for killing the Shia leader Syed Sikandar Shah, and a deadly attack on a gathering at a Shia cemetery in 1998, in an assassination attempt on Nawaz Sharif in 1999, besides being accused of several bank heists. He was arrested in 1992 and sentenced to death for killing Ganji, but escaped from prison in 1994.[6][7][8] Basra was also alleged to be involved in killing the Imamia Students Organization leader Dr Muhammad Ali Naqvi in 1995,[7] Sargodha commissioner Syed Tajammal Abbas in 1996,[4] and in killing Gujranwala SSP Muhammad Ashraf Marth in 1997.[9]

In 1996, Basra broke from Sipah-e-Sahaba to form his own anti-Shia organization Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. The organization takes its name from the deceased founder of Sipah-e-Sahaba, Haq Nawaz Jhangvi, who was killed in a retaliatory bomb attack by an unknown assailants believed to be sponsored by Shia group on 23 February 1990.[10]

On one occasion, Basra is believed to have coerced the Punjab Chief Minister into easing police pressure on his group. He had demonstrated his ability to penetrate the CM's security by having himself photographed with the CM without his knowledge.[11] On another occasion, he had got himself photographed with Nawaz Sharif in a similar fashion, and sent the photo to Sharif's office.[12]


Basra had a bounty of Rs. 5 million on his head and when he was killed, reportedly in a shootout in May 2002, in Kot Choudhary Sher Muhammad Ghalvi, Dokota, a Shia village in Vehari district, Punjab, doubts were expressed about his death because Sargodha police had already claimed to have killed him in 1999 and the Punjab police had also claimed to have killed him on six different occasions.[4][6][8][13] Basra and three other Lashkar-e-Jhangvi members had come to stage an attack on Choudhary Fida Hussain Ghalvi, a prominent Shia leader, but were met with armed resistance by local villagers. According to one report, a special police brigade arrived to support a half-hour later, ending the fight, during which all four Lashkar-e-Jhangvi members were killed.[8][14] Doubts have been expressed about this version of events because Basra was reported to be in police custody at the time of this shootout[1][14][15][16] and hardly anyone believes this account to be true.[17][18] However, Pakistan's then Information Minister Nisar Memon denied any foul-play.[19] It is alleged he was killed by Shia fighters seeking to take matters into their own hands after police incompetence.

Basra was buried in his home village of Khurhseed, near Jhawarian outside of Sargodha. His funeral was attended by 5,000 people; though police presence prevented SSP and LeJ leadership from participating, Basra's body was wrapped in the LeJ flag.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Correspondent (May 17, 2002; Friday, Rabi-ul-Awwal 4, 1423 AH). "Riaz Basra buried in Sargodha". Dawn. Retrieved 15 June 2013.  horizontal tab character in |date= at position 14 (help); Check date values in: |date= (help)
  2. ^ C. Christine Fair; Peter Chalk (2006). Fortifying Pakistan: The Role of U.s. Internal Security Assistance. US Institute of Peace Press. pp. 26–. ISBN 978-1-929223-88-6. Retrieved 14 June 2013. 
  3. ^ "KARACHI: List of cases against Akram Lahori released". Dawn. 2 July 2002. Retrieved 19 June 2013. The police has released a list of some 33 cases registered against Mohammad Ajmal alias Akram Lahori in different police stations of the city. 
  4. ^ a b c Shamsul Islam Naz Basra encounter: a poorly staged drama Dawn (Pakistan), May 17, 2002
  5. ^ Zahid Hussain (1 July 2008). Frontline Pakistan: The Struggle With Militant Islam. Columbia University Press. pp. 94–. ISBN 978-0-231-14225-0. Retrieved 16 June 2013. 
  6. ^ a b "World: South Asia Pakistani police shoot wrong man". BBC. 7 April 1999. Retrieved 15 June 2013. 
  7. ^ a b "Riaz Basra's career". Dawn. 15 May 2002. Retrieved 19 June 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c Howard D. French For Militant, No Glorified End, but Death in the Dust New York Times, May 19, 2002
  9. ^ "Witnesses retract statements: Four acquitted of killing SSP Marth, his driver". Dawn. 21 May 2010. Retrieved 19 June 2013. 
  10. ^ Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, Terrorist Group of Pakistan South Asian Terrorism Portal.
  11. ^ "Pakistan kills a master terrorist". United Press International. 14 May 2002. 
  12. ^ Jones, Owen Bennett (2002). Pakistan: Eye of the Storm (PDF). Yale University Press. p. 23. 
  13. ^ Police kill Pakistan's most wanted man BBC News, 14 May 2002
  14. ^ a b "Riaz Basra, 3 others die in 'encounter'". Dawn. 15 May 2002. Retrieved 16 June 2013. 
  15. ^ McCarthy, Rory (17 May 2002). "Death by design". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 June 2013. 
  16. ^ "Lashkar chief Riaz Basra 'arrested'". Dawn. 22 Jan 2002. Retrieved 17 June 2013. FAISALABAD, Jan 21: A local police team on Monday claimed to have arrested Riaz Basra, involved in series of sectarian killings, and took him to an unknown place for interrogation. 
  17. ^ "The man who chose to live by the sword". Dawn. 19 May 2002. Retrieved 19 June 2013. Still, the official version — that he died in a shootout with the police and villagers — was disbelieved, almost universally. There had already been reports in the press about his arrest. The police denied these. The autopsy, however, revealed that the fatal bullets had been fired from too close a range to sustain the fiction of a 90-minute crossfire. 
  18. ^ "Autopsy reveals bullets fired from 5 feet: Basra's death". Dawn. 18 May 2002. Retrieved 19 June 2013. The autopsy report of Riaz Basra... revealed that they were fired upon from a distance of five to 10 feet...However, some of them confided to this scribe that the police encounter was fake. They wondered that in an half-an-hour encounter, no policeman sustained injury... They belied Ghalvis claim that they informed the police which reached the spot in just five minutes from various police stations of the district. They said it took an hour to reach Dokota from Vehari, and 30 minutes from Mailsi. 
  19. ^ "Pakistan prepared to repulse attack: Nisar urges peace with India". Dawn. Retrieved 19 June 2013. Mr Memon said that Riaz Basra had been killed in a police encounter and his body had been identified by Punjab’s inspector-general of police. It was wrong to say that Riaz Basra was killed in a fake encounter, he added. He rejected the idea that there should be a judicial inquiry into the killing of Riaz Basra. 

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