Maulana Azam Tariq (Urdu: اعظم طارق) (March 1962 – October 6, 2003) was leader of the politico-religious organisation Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, born in Chichawatni. The Sipah-e-Sahaba is a Sunni, Deobandisectarian terrorist organization, which was officially banned by the government of Pakistan in August 2001 for its violence against theShi’a community.
Azam Tariq was the half brother of Ahmed Madni, a cleric associated with Ahl-i-Sunnat Wal Jamaat ]Ahmed Madni was also assassinated, along with his son, in Karachi.
A graduate and teacher at the Karachi madrassa Jamia Islamia, Azam Tariq began to associate with Haq Nawaz Jhangvi, a hardline cleric from Jhang who had become known for his sermons against the Shi’a denomination. Jhangvi invited Tariq to run his madrassa in order to promote his ideology. Following Jhangvi’s assassination in 1990, Azam Tariq inherited the top position in the group, when he survived the explosion in Lahore that killed another prominent front-runner for the slot, Ziaur Rehman Farooqi. During this time, the Sipah-e-Sahaba operative Riaz Basra developed differences with Azam Tariq and formed his own group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.
Arrest on the charges of terrorism
In August 2001, Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf banned seven alleged terrorist organizations, including Sipah-e-Sahaba, and Azam Tariq was arrested and jailed on charges of terrorism. A spate of killings of several prominent Shi’a leaders immediately followed, targeting those who were allegedly complicit in Tariq’s arrest and the crackdown on his organization.
Azam Tariq was elected three times to the National Assembly of Pakistan in Jhang Sadr, even though his constituency was a predominantly Shi’a region. He contested again in the 2002 elections, while in custody, and was again elected. He was released in November 2002 and provided the crucial one-seat majority to the prime minister, Zafarullah Khan Jamali, under the Musharraf government.
Azam Tariq was shot and killed in an attack on October 4, 2003 near Islamabad as he left the M2Motorway to enter the city. Another leader, Qari Zia-ur-Rehman was also killed. Tariq’s supporters blamed Shi’a sectarians for the killings, and Shi’a leader Sajid Naqvi was arrested several days later. However, the case remains unsolved.
Riaz Basra (1967 – 14 May 2002) was a Pakistani militant involved in sectarian fighting with Shia elements in Pakistan. Basra founded the militant organization Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in 1996.
Riaz Basra was born 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 served in the Afghan War on the mujahideen side, receiving a bullet wound in the leg.
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 Shia militants on 23 February 1990.
Basra was himself killed in a shootout in a Shia village in Vehari district, Punjab. Basra and three other Lashkar-e-Jhangvi members had come to stage an attack on a prominent Shia, but were met with armed resistance by local villagers. A special police brigade arrived to support a half-hour later, ending the fight, during which all four Lashkar-e-Jhangvi members were killed.
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (Urdu: لشكرِجهنگوی; alternately Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, LJ; English: Army of Jhangvi) is an Islamic militant organization. Formed in 1996, it has operated in Pakistan sinceSipah-e-Sahaba (SSP) activist Riaz Basra broke away from the SSP over differences with his seniors. The group is considered aterrorist organisation by Pakistan and the United States, and has been 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 fromSipah-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 Pakistanon 14 July 2011.
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 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.
Authorities believe Mohammed Aqeel, an LJ member, was the mastermind behind the March 2009 attack on the Sri Lanka national cricket team.
Lashkar-i-Jhangvi claims responsibility: 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.
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 theAfghan 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.”
Upon the death of Riaz Basra in May 2002, correspondence between al-Qaeda and LJ seems to have stopped. Basra communicated to al-Qaeda commanders through Harkat ul-Ansar.
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, 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.