Lashkar-e-Islam

Formed2004
DisbandedGroup is active.
First AttackJuly 2006: Clashes with Ansar-ul-Islam in Bara, Khyber Agency. Several civilians and combatants were killed
Last AttackJuly 6, 2010: Bomb attack in used car market in Tirrah valley, Khyber Agency, killing 6
UpdatedAugust 28, 2012

Narrative Summary

Lashkar-e-Islam (LeI) is a militant group active in the Khyber Agency of Pakistan. Led by Haji Namdar and Mufti Shakir, the group began as an anti-Barelvi sectarian group in 2004.[1] This group was an offshoot of a religious group that wanted domination in the area through recruiting followers by propagating their own interpretation of Islam with illegal FM channels.

The group, known as Suppression of Vice and the Promotion of Virtue, under Mufti Shakir was engaged in bloody clashes with a Barelvi group of Khyber Agency led by Pir Saifur Rehman. When the bloodshed between the two groups increased the government asked the local tribal elders for help in restoring peace in the area.

However, tribal elders, in collaboration with the political administration, held jirgas (elders meetings) to find an understanding between the two warring groups. A series of jirgas were organized by Afridi tribes, which forced Mufti Munir and Pir Saifur Rehman to leave Bara.

As the two leaders left, two other groups, Lashkar-e-Islam and Ansarul Islam, emerged in Bara and began fighting each other. Both these groups were the fronts of the groups which had been suspended by the political administration. Laskar-e-Islam was based in Bara while its rival Ansar-ul-Islam set up its headquarter in the remote Tirrah valley of the agency.[2]

In 2007, Mangal Bagh Afridi (also known as the “Amir” of LeI) became the head of LeI. Mangal Bagh launched a new campaign for the implementation of Sharia law in Khyber Agency. He initiated new patrols in the agency, setup parallel courts and appointed sub commanders in different areas. One of the first incidents which came into public notice under Mangal Bagh was the 2007 execution of two men and a woman on charges of adultery.[3]

By early 2008, LeI under Mangal Bagh operated an effective parallel government in Khyber Agency. Political Agent’s office and Pakistan Army had very little control over the agency, as LeI became strong enough to cut off the Peshawar-Torkham, a supply route used by Coalition forces in Afghanistan.

LeI developed a rivalry with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in 2008. Haji Namdar, an influential of LeI, was killed by TTP. A faction of TTP under Hakimullah Mehsud was said to be leading Taliban fighters from Khyber Agency who were not part of LeI. TTP’s Khyber faction led by Hakimullah Mehsud was believed to be behind the killing.[4]

The rivalry between TTP and LeI was reinforced by the strategic utility of Khyber’ Agency's location. Control of the Khyber Agency was important for both the Taliban and the government.[5] The main land route to Afghanistan and the Central Asian states is via the Khyber Pass, a vital supply route to U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan. The TTP had sought control of this route to gain political and economic leverage. Several times, TTP leaders tried to align their movement with Mangal Bagh’s LeI, but each time Mangal Bagh refused to approve a merger with the TTP. Despite their internal rivalries and fierce clashes, the three main militant groups in the Khyber Agency, Lashkar-e-Islam, Ansar-ul-Islam and Amr bil Ma’ruf wa Nahi Anil Munkar (Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice), have all kept their distance from the mainstream TTP. Local people suggest that the Pakistani government has been guiding, supporting and fueling differences among the Khyber’s militants to use them as a buffer against TTP operations targeting the Khyber Pass supply route.

In 2008, the Pakistan Army launched an offensive against LeI in Khyber Agency. By end of 2008, it regained control of the region.[6] The government claimed to have killed Mangal Bagh; however, LeI refuted the claim and Mangal Bagh was found to be alive in Tirah valley of Khyber Agency. By the end of 2008, the military operation had destroyed the parallel government structure of LeI in Khyber agency. The remnants of the group now operate out of Tirah Valley in Khyber and fighting between LeI and TTP factions continue.[7] Mangal Bagh's whereabouts are unknown.

In the aftermath of the May 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden, Pakistani government detained Dr. Shakil Afridi for organizaing a fake vaccination campaign to assist CIA's hunt for Bin Laden in Abbotabad, Pakistan. After his arrest, however, he was charged in court for having links to LeI.[8] LeI though denied having any contact or relationship with Dr. Afridi and condemned him for his alleged cooperation with CIA. [9]

LeI continues to be an anti-Taliban group.

Leadership

  1. Mufti Shakir (2004 to 2007): Mufti Shakir was an ardent follower of the Deobandi school of Islamic jurisprudential thought. Belong to the Karbogha village in the district of Hangu, he was engaged in leading a hard-line religious movement under the aegis of Harkat-ul-Islam. From 2004 onwards, Shakir, on behalf of Haji Namdaar, was active in making announcements on a FM radio station and denouncing Pir Saif-ur-Rahman, a cleric who represented the opposing Barelvi school of thought and in turn headed his own movement of Ansar-ul-Islam. In 2006, both Shakir and Saif-ur-Rehman were expelled from Khyber Agency.[10]
  2. Manghal Bagh (2007 to 2010): In 2007, Mangal Bagh Afridi (also known as the “Amir” of LeI) became the head of LeI. Mangal Bagh launched a new campaign for the implementation of Sharia law in Khyber Agency. He initiated new patrols in the agency, setup parallel courts and appointed sub commanders in different areas. One of the first incidents which came into public notice under Mangal Bagh was the 2007 execution of two men and a woman on charges of adultery.[11]

Ideology & Goals


Name Changes


Size Estimates

Designated/Listed

Resources

LeI funds itself through kidnapping for ransom. When it had control over Khyber Agency, it imposed different kinds of taxes. Anybody not wearing a head covering had to pay a fine of 100 Pakistani Rupees.[13] It also imposed jazia (also called a jizya or protection tax) on the non-Muslim communities of Khyber requiring all non-Muslims to pay 1000 Pakistani Rupees annually to LeI, with exceptions for women, children and the handicapped.

LeI was suspected of being a Pakistani state sponsored anti-Taliban group until an offensive was launched against it by the Pakistan Army in 2007-08.[14] It developed a rivalry of its own with TTP after the killing of Haji Namdar.

External Influences

LeI was suspected of being a Pakistani state sponsored anti-Taliban group until an offensive was launched against it by the Pakistan Army in 2007-08.[15] It developed a rivalry of its own with TTP after the killing of Haji Namdar.LeI is primarily based out of the Khyber Agency of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas. After the military operation in Khyber in 2008, LeI is said to have operated out of the Tirah valley of Khyber Agency.

Geographical Locations

LeI is primarily based out of the Khyber Agency of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas. After the military operation in Khyber in 2008, LeI is said to have operated out of the Tirah valley of Khyber Agency.

Targets & Tactics

LeI primarily targets Barelvis, Shias, Pakistan Army, and other Pakistani state assets.

The group frequently utilizes FM radio sermons to incite the population against Barelvi groups and Pakistani state. They resort to kidnappings for ransom, beheading, firearm military assaults, etc.

Political Activities

In 2007, LeI issued a “code of conduct” to candidates contesting elections in the Bara subdivision of Khyber Agency. Candidates were told not to hold public meetings, use only one vehicle and not to hoist flags of any political party on their cars and buildings.[16]

Major Attacks

  1. March 2009: Bombing of the shrine of famous Pashto poet Rehman Baba in Hazarkhwani, near Peshawar. (NA).[17]
  2. June 7, 2010: Shoot out with TTP fighters in Tabai Area, Khyber Agency, 25 dead. (25).[18]

Relationships with Other Groups

LeI developed a rivalry with TTP after the death of Haji Namdar in 2008.[19]

The rivalry between TTP and LeI had a strategic dimension because of Khyber’s location. Control of the Khyber Agency was important for both the Taliban and the government.[20] The main land route to Afghanistan and the Central Asian states is via the Khyber Pass, a vital supply route to U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan. The TTP had sought control of this route to gain political and economic leverage. Several times, TTP leaders tried to align their movement with Mangal Bagh’s LeI, but each time Mangal Bagh refused a merger with the TTP. Despite their internal rivalries and fierce clashes, the three main militant groups in the Khyber Agency, Lashkar-e-Islam, Ansar-ul-Islam and Amr bil Ma’ruf wa Nahi Anil Munkar (Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice), have all kept their distance from the mainstream TTP. Local people say the Pakistani intelligence services have been guiding, supporting and fueling differences among the Khyber’s militants to use them as a buffer against TTP operations targeting the Khyber Pass supply route.  Haji Namdar was reportedly killed in a bomb attack by a bomber of Hakimullah Mehsud group.[21]. Recently, in a clash between Taliban and LeI fighters in Khyber agency, 25 civilians and combatants were killed.[22].

LeI also has a bitter rivalry with a Barelvi group of Khyber called Ansar-ul-Islam. Ansarul Islam emerged in Bara in 2006 and began fighting LeI in 2007. Both these groups were the fronts of the groups which had been suspended by the political administration in 2006. Laskar-e-Islam was based in Bara while its rival Ansar-ul-Islam set up its headquarter in the remote Tirrah valley of the agency.[23]

Community Relationships

LeI consist of Afridi tribesmen of Khyber Agency, primarily from the Zakhakhel line. The political administration of Khyber Agency has pressured the elders of Zakhakhel tribes to expel Mangal Bangh and his affiliates from the Khyber agency.[24]

 


References

  1. ^ Mukhtar khan, “The FM Mullahs and the Taliban’s Propaganda War in Pakistan,” Terrorism Monitor 7, no. 14 (May 26, 2009), http://www.jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&tx_ttnews[swords]=8fd5893941d69d0be3f378576261ae3e&tx_ttnews[any_of_the_words]=lashkar-e-islam&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=35033&tx_ttnews[backPid]=7&cHash=8b962469df.
  2. ^ Imtiaz Ali, “Khyber Tribal Agency: A New Hub of Islamist Militancy in Pakistan,” Terrorism Monitor 6, no. 11 (May 29, 2008), http://www.jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&tx_ttnews[swords]=8fd5893941d69d0be3f378576261ae3e&tx_ttnews[any_of_the_words]=lashkar-e-islam&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=4952&tx_ttnews[backPid]=7&cHash=c2c3503c41
  3. ^ Imtiaz Ali, “Khyber Tribal Agency: A New Hub of Islamist Militancy in Pakistan,” Terrorism Monitor 6, no. 11 (May 29, 2008), http://www.jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&tx_ttnews[swords]=8fd5893941d69d0be3f378576261ae3e&tx_ttnews[any_of_the_words]=lashkar-e-islam&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=4952&tx_ttnews[backPid]=7&cHash=c2c3503c41
  4. ^ Richard A. Oppel Jr and Pir Zubair Shah, “Amid Taliban Rule, a NATO Supply Line Is Choked,” The New York Times, December 25, 2008, sec. International / Asia Pacific, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/25/world/asia/25khyber.html.
  5. ^ Richard A. Oppel Jr and Pir Zubair Shah, “Amid Taliban Rule, a NATO Supply Line Is Choked,” The New York Times, December 25, 2008, sec. International / Asia Pacific, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/25/world/asia/25khyber.html.
  6. ^ Jane Perlez and Pir Zubair Shah, “Pakistani Forces Appear to Push Back Militants,” The New York Times, June 30, 2008, sec. International / Asia Pacific, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/30/world/asia/30pstan.html?ref=mangal_bagh.
  7. ^ “Pakistan market bombing kills six,” BBC, July 16, 2010, sec. South Asia, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-10658560.
  8. ^ “Dr Shakil Afridi jailed for militant ties,” The Express Tribune, May 30, 2012, http://tribune.com.pk/story/386265/dr-shakil-afridi-jailed-for-militant-links/
  9. ^ {“Militants deny links with Dr Shakil Afridi,” The Express Tribune, May 31, 2012, http://tribune.com.pk/story/386800/militants-deny-links-with-dr-shakil-afridi/
  10. ^ Zaidi, Manzar. “A Profile of Mangal Bagh.” The Long War Journal (November 11, 2008). http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2008/11/a_profile_of_mangal.php.
  11. ^ Imtiaz Ali, “Khyber Tribal Agency: A New Hub of Islamist Militancy in Pakistan,” Terrorism Monitor 6, no. 11 (May 29, 2008), http://www.jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&tx_ttnews[swords]=8fd5893941d69d0be3f378576261ae3e&tx_ttnews[any_of_the_words]=lashkar
  12. ^ http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/2738.htm
  13. ^ Mukhtar khan, “The FM Mullahs and the Taliban’s Propaganda War in Pakistan,” Terrorism Monitor 7, no. 14 (May 26, 2009), http://www.jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&tx_ttnews[swords]=8fd5893941d69d0be3f378576261ae3e&tx_ttnews[any_of_the_words]=lashkar-e-islam&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=35033&tx_ttnews[backPid]=7&cHash=8b962469df
  14. ^ Tarakzai, Sajjad. “Sikhs, Hindus dread Taliban tax in Pakistan,” July 26, 2009. http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jDb_MJz1cDxpe92OiodD9lSo9c_A.
  15. ^ Tarakzai, Sajjad. “Sikhs, Hindus dread Taliban tax in Pakistan,” July 26, 2009. http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jDb_MJz1cDxpe92OiodD9lSo9c_A.
  16. ^ Imtiaz Ali, “Khyber Tribal Agency: A New Hub of Islamist Militancy in Pakistan,” Terrorism Monitor 6, no. 11 (May 29, 2008), http://www.jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&tx_ttnews[swords]=8fd5893941d69d0be3f378576261ae3e&tx_ttnews[any_of_the_words]=lashkar-e-islam&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=4952&tx_ttnews[backPid]=7&cHash=c2c3503c41
  17. ^ http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/nwfp/pashtun-poet-rehman-baba-mausoleum-bombed--qs
  18. ^ http://www.jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&tx_ttnews[swords]=8fd5893941d69d0be3f378576261ae3e&tx_ttnews[any_of_the_words]=lashkar-e-islam&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=35033&tx_ttnews[backPid]=7&cHash=8b962469df
  19. ^ Jane Perlez and Pir Zubair Shah, “Pakistani Forces Appear to Push Back Militants,” The New York Times, June 30, 2008, sec. International / Asia Pacific, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/30/world/asia/30pstan.html?ref=mangal_bagh.
  20. ^ Mukhtar khan, “The FM Mullahs and the Taliban’s Propaganda War in Pakistan,” Terrorism Monitor 7, no. 14 (May 26, 2009), http://www.jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&tx_ttnews[swords]=8fd5893941d69d0be3f378576261ae3e&tx_ttnews[any_of_the_words]=lashkar-e-islam&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=35033&tx_ttnews[backPid]=7&cHash=8b962469df
  21. ^ Rahimullah Yusufzai, “A Who’s Who of the Insurgency in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province: Part One – North and South Waziristan,” Terrorism Monitor 6, no. 18 (September 22, 2008), http://www.jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&tx_ttnews[swords]=8fd5893941d69d0be3f378576261ae3e&tx_ttnews[any_of_the_words]=rahimullah%20yusufzai&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=5169&tx_ttnews[backPid]=7&cHash=6714cfc276
  22. ^ “25 killed in Taliban, Laskar-e-Islam clashes in Pakistan,” The Hindu, June 6, 2010, http://beta.thehindu.com/news/international/article448066.ece.
  23. ^ Imtiaz Ali, “Khyber Tribal Agency: A New Hub of Islamist Militancy in Pakistan,” Terrorism Monitor 6, no. 11 (May 29, 2008), http://www.jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&tx_ttnews[swords]=8fd5893941d69d0be3f378576261ae3e&tx_ttnews[any_of_the_words]=lashkar-e-islam&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=4952&tx_ttnews[backPid]=7&cHash=c2c3503c41
  24. ^ Daud Khattak, “Opening new fronts,” Daily Times, May 20, 2010, http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\05\20\story_20-5-2010_pg3_4

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