Wajahat Khalid – Jun 17, 2019
Pakistan’s ministry of interior has proscribed 71 organizations and splinter groups under the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997. These outfits were found to be directly or indirectly involved in acts of violence or hate crimes on the basis of religion. Some of the groups banned also include those which participated in separatist insurgency and other similar crimes designated as anti-state. Majority of the groups are, however, proscribed for violent extremism. Below is a brief profile of key religious extremist groups proscribed in Pakistan.
Daesh (Islamic State)
A Salafist terror group with transnational ambitions, Daesh aims to create an exclusive Islamist caliphate by conquering territories. Such a caliphate is based on an extreme understanding of Islamic Shariah. Daesh was originally founded as ‘Jamaatul Tawheed Wal Jihad’ by Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian, in 2000. The members of this group were key players in the Iraqi insurgency during the US occupation of the country. Later, the group joined hands with Al-Qaeda in Iraq. When the Syrian civil war started, the members of this group shifted to the new war front. In 2013, the group adopted the name ‘Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’ (ISIS). The ISIS seized territories in Syria and Iraq during 2013-14 that shocked the entire world. Its atrocities against people in the captured areas paled Al-Qaeda’s terrorism.
- Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi (2002 to Jun 7, 2006)
- Abu Ayub al-Masri (Oct 2006 to Apr 18, 2010)
- Abu Umar al-Baghdadi (Oct 2006 to Apr 18, 2010)
- Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (2010 to Present)
Pakistan proscribed Daesh in 2015. Earlier, it was proscribed by the U.S. Department of State as well as the United Nations.
Sources of Funding
Daesh has been the richest terrorist organization in the world. Its terror operations were financed by various extraction schemes within its controlled territories and foreign donations. Al-Qaeda also funded it in the past.
Areas of Operation
Daesh mainly operated in Syria and Iraq where it captured territories and temporarily established what it called caliphate. It has also declared provinces in Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the North Caucasus. Moreover, in Turkey, Lebanon, Belgium, Bangladesh, Morocco, Indonesia, Malaysia, Tunisia, Kuwait, and Sri Lanka it has claimed responsibility for terrorist attacks.
Al-Qaeda, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Ansar al-Sharia in Libya (ASL), Boko Haram, The Nusra Front, Taliban
Tehreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP)
On 14 Dec 2007, members of at least 27 terrorist and extremist groups came together under Baitullah Mehsud to establish what came to be known as the Tehreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The terror movement’s prime focus is the state of Pakistan, but it also supports the Taliban insurgency in neighboring Afghanistan. Its first commander, Baitullah Mehsud, belonged to the Shabikhel sub-tribe of the Mehsuds. In Aug 2009, Mehsud was killed in a US drone strike.
Baitullah Mehsud was succeeded by Hakimullah Mehsud who was the Taliban commander in the Khyber, Kurram, and Orakzai regions. A graduate of a local religious seminary, Hakimullah had fought for Taliban in Afghanistan against the Western forces. He met his predecessor’s fate as an American drone targeted him in North Waziristan on Nov 1, 2013.
After Hakimullah’s death, TTP’s rein was taken over by Mullah Fazlullah – one of the most brutal Taliban commanders to date. A former chairlift operator in Swat, Fazlullah got the sobriquet of ‘Mullah Radio’ after giving extremist sermons on his illegal FM radio in the tribal regions. The US State Department added him to the ‘Reward for Justice’ wanted list on 7 Mar 2018. An American drone strike finally killed him in Afghanistan’s Kunar province on 14 Jun 2018.
TTP follows an extremist version of Salafist ideology and justifies use of violence and violence in implementing Shariah. It demands of Pakistan to disassociate itself from the US-led war on terror. It publicly endorses violent implementation of Shariah laws in Pakistan, and propagates armed struggle against Pakistani security forces and coalition forces in Afghanistan. 
The outfit has an estimated 5000 fighters and a total of about 50,000 members. It is based in South Waziristan and control a network of regional chapters headed by local commanders. It is believed to have links with other terrorist groups in Pakistan.
- Drug trade
- Kidnapping for ransom
- Other criminal activities for raising funds
- Besides, TTP also maintains effective relationship with Al-Qaeda and Afghan Taliban which provide it with resources
The TTP has been proscribed by the governments in Pakistan, Canada, the US and UK. The United Nations Security Council has also listed it in its international anti-terrorism sanctions list.
The outfit mostly recruits fighters from tribal ranks and religious seminaries, and draws strength from foreign fighters coming the Middle East and Central Asia. Its affiliations with other terrorist organizations also provide it support in man and material.
Areas of Operation
The TTP has carried out terrorist attacks mostly in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and its adjacent tribal areas, but it has managed to stage attacks in other areas of Pakistan as well as in Afghanistan too.
Nexus with other Terror Groups
- Al-Qaeda, 
- Afghan Taliban
- Lashkar-e Jhangvi (LeJ)
- Jaish-e Muhammad (JeM)
- Tehrik-e Nifaz-e Shariat-e Muhammadi (TNSM)
- Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).
A Shiite extremist outfit, Sipah-e Muhammad was founded by Maulana Abbas Yazdani in 1993 with an aim to counter the Sipah-e-Sahaba’s anti-Shiite militancy in Pakistan. Yazdani broke away from the Tehreek-e-Jafaria after believing the outfit was unable to counter Sipah-e-Sahaba’s activism. After his murder in 1996, Yazdani was succeeded by Ghulam Raza Naqvi. Naqvi and another leader of Sipah-e-Mohmmad Munawar Abbas Alvi have been in prison on murder charges. The group follows the Shiite ideology. It is believed to receive financial support from Iran and other local Shiite organizations. The outfit was banned in Pakistan on 14 Aug 2001.
Recruitment and Operations
The organization’s recruitment sources are largely unknown but some young people from the Imamia Students have joined the group. It mainly operates in Punjab, Pakistan. The outfit has participated in several targeted killings and robbery.
Lashkar-e Jhangvi (LeJ)
The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) was founded by Malik Ishaq, Akram Lahori, and Riaz Basra in 1996 as a breakaway faction from the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP). These hardliners considered their parent outfit SSP too soft against the Shiites. LeJ has been one of the most brutal anti-Shiite terrorist groups in Pakistan. Its founding commander Akram Lahori had joined the SSP in 1990. He is suspected of involvement in Shiite massacres in Pakistan.
Another founding member of LeJ was Riaz Basra who had been associated with the SSP since 1985. Basra contested elections from Lahore for the provincial assembly seat in 1988, but lost. Later, he moved to Afghanistan to receive terrorist training in camps run by Harkatul Mujahideen. Basra was first arrested for the murder of a Shiite leader Syed Sikandar Shah and Sadiq Ganji – a director at an Iranian cultural center in Lahore. He escaped from police custody during the hearing of the case.
The third founding leader of LeJ was Malik Ishaq. Ishaq served in detention for over a decade for many counts of homicide and killings. However, he was subsequently released in 2011 due to lack of evidence. After a massive bombing targeting the Hazara Shiites in Quetta in Jan 2013, Ishaq was arrested and released again. On 29 Jul 2015, Ishaq along with his two sons and eleven other militants were killed by the police during an encounter in Muzaffargarh, Punjab.
LeJ believes in an extremist version of Sunni faith and considers the Shiites as ‘infidel’ and justifies their killings. It has been involved in assassinating Shiite leaders and professionals in Pakistan. Many of its former and present members had participated in the anti-Soviet jihad.
LeJ is known as a group of secrecy. It mainly consists of sub-unit of 5-8 men with one of them as the leader. A sub-unit operates in a specific area. Lack of communication among different sub-units makes it hard for the authorities to track their actions and movements. It is believed a sub-unit is divided and reconstituted in another secret place after carrying out assaults.
Reports suggest the LeJ receives funding from private sources in the Arab countries. A number of Karachi-based businesspeople are also suspected of being LeJ supporters. Besides, the group also raises funds to finance its terrorist activities by resorting to crimes. The outfit was proscribed by the Musharraf regime on 14 Aug 2001.
The LeJ leadership is primarily based in Punjab, and secondly in Balochistan. The group recruits footsoldiers from Deobandi seminaries across Pakistan. It has carried out deadly terrorist attacks against Shiite leaders and practitioners through the country.
Areas of Operation:
During the 1990s, the LeJ fought alongside the Taliban forces in Afghanistan. Following the fall of the Taliban regime, the LeJ returned to focus on targeting Shiites in Pakistan. In recent years, the LeJ has specifically targeted the Shiite Hazara community in Quetta. Their operations stretch from the tribal regions to metropolitans like Karachi, Quetta, etc. According to latest reports, the LeJ has developed links with Daesh.
Maulana Masood Azhar founded the Jaish-e-Mohammad in 2000, soon after his release on 31 Dec 1999 as a result of hostage-swap operation following the hijacking of the Indian Airline Flight IC-814. The hijacked airline was forced to land in Kandahar, Afghanistan. A former general secretary of Harkatul Mujahideen, Azhar was born in 1968 in Bahawalpur, Punjab. He joined the corps of anti-Soviet “freedom fighters” during the 1980s, and later joined a religious seminary as a teacher. He preached jihad in Sindh province. In 1994, while he was on an insurgency mission in the Jammu and Kashmir, he was captured by the Indian authorities. India released him as during a hostage swap on 31 Dec 1999, following the hijacking of the Indian Airline Flight IC-814. Most of the outfit’s leaders are former members of Harkatul Mujahideen (HuM).
Structure of the Organization
Jaish-e-Mohammed maintains offices in different cities of Pakistan as well as in Jammu and Kashmir. These offices also serve as schools of jihad. The exact locations of most of its offices are secret. However, the group has separate wings for militancy, finance, and propaganda.
Prior to 2002, the group reportedly received donations from Al-Qaeda. However, over the years the outfit has diversified its sources of financing. It also receives funds through charities. The JeM’s charity wing Al-Rehmat Trust seeks donations for carrying out social work and building of mosques. JeM was proscribed by Pakistan in 2002.
JeM mainly hires members from semi-urban areas and seminaries. The outfit has organized many recruitment rallies in Pakistan since 2002, calling on the youth to take the path of jihad. Besides, it also recruits members internationally from Kashmiris and Pakistani immigrants in the UK. A considerable number of Afghan national are also part of the group.
JeM is a Deobandi extremist outfit that seeks freedom of Jammu and Kashmir from India and their accession with Pakistan. It also views India and the United States as significant threats to the Muslim world. In recent years, the group has also included sectarian minority groups to the list of its enemies.
Areas of Operation
JeM is a Kashmir-centric jihad outfit. However, it has also been blamed for the attack on Indian parliament in 2001 and an assassination attempt on Pakistan’s former President Pervez Musharraf in 2003. Some reports suggest the group was also involved in the kidnapping and subsequent murder of Daniel Pearl in 2002. It is believed to have links with Al-Qaeda, SSP, and LeJ.
Lashkar-e-Taiba operates mainly in the India-occupied Kashmir. It was formed in 1990 as a wing of ‘Markaz Al-Dawa wal Irshad’ (MDI) – an Islamist organization founded by Hafiz Muhammad Saeed in 1987. Saeed is the chief of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD). He studied at Punjab University before graduating in Arabic language from the King Saud University in Saudi Arabia. He remained associated with several Saudi scholars and became a favorite of a noted Saudi scholar Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Baz.Other important leaders of JuD include Zakiur-Rehman and Maulana Amir Hamza.
Structure of the Organization
The LeT reportedly acts as the militant wing of JuD, and perpetuates insurgency against the Indian forces in Kashmir. JuD also engages in social and philanthropic activities in Pakistan which help it develop strong bonds with its target populations. In Pakistan, where the civilian government is perceived as corrupt, organizations like JuD virtually act as an alternative to the state and provide humanitarian services to people.
JuD solicits financial support for its activities from its target population and like-minded philanthropists. Donation boxes with emblem of JuD decorate countless retail shops in Pakistan. Besides, the group also collects animal hides on the occasion of Eid-ul-Azha. Saudi Arabia is also considered to be a donor of the outfit. JuD was first banned in Pakistan in Jan 2002.
Headquartered in Muridke, the JuD runs a network of religious seminaries and other educational institutions that also serve as outlets for recruitment of new members. It owns one of the biggest seminaries in Pakistan. The organization has been notable in providing relief works to victims during natural disasters such as earthquake and flood. It believes in jihad primarily against India, but also against the US and Israel. JuD shares ideological similarities with Al-Qaeda. One of Al-Qaeda operatives, Abu Zubaida, was captured in 2002 from an LeT safehouse in Faisalabad, Pakistan.
Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP)
Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan is an extremist Deobandi group. It was established by Maulana Haq Nawaz Jhangvi in Jhang, Punjab on 6 Sep 1985 with an aim to counter the Shiite influence and activism in Pakistan. Many SSP leaders have served as elected members in the parliament. The outfit is currently headed by Maulana Mohammad Ahmed Ludhianvi.
The SSP follows a radical anti-Shiite ideology that declares the Shiites as non-Muslims. The outfit has also shown hostility against other Sunni sects such as Barelvi. The ultimate purpose of the SSP is to declare Pakistan an exclusive Sunni state. The outfit also opposes Pakistan’s participation in the war on terror.
According to an estimate by the International Crisis Group (ICG), the outfit had around 5000-6000 members in 20014. During its initial years, it had a central executive board. It established offices in major cities in Pakistan. Currently, it maintains small urban chapters under local leaders.
The outfit has been receiving considerable funding from private sources in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. It also collects donations and zakat from rich people in Pakistan.
Proscription by the Government:
The government of Pakistan proscribed SSP on 14 Jan 2002, only to see it re-emerge with a changed name ‘Millat-e Islamia Pakistan’. It was again designated as a terrorist outfit in Sep 2003. Currently, it operates under the name of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ). ASWJ leaders contested polls both in 2013 and 2018 general elections in Pakistan. The outfit mainly operates in Punjab and Balochistan.
SSP has known relations with Al-Qaeda, Taliban, Jaish-e Muhammad, and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). The organization also has deep-rooted links with its offshoot Lashkar-e Jhangvi.
Tehreek Nifaz Shariat Mohmmadi (TNSM)
TNSM was established in Swat valley in 1994 by a religious leader Sufi Mohammad. TNSM abhors the democratic system and seeks to create a Shariah state in Pakistan with Islamic justice system.
Sufi Muhammad, the TNSM founder, was an active member of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) in the 1980s which he quit in 1992. He was instrumental in mobilizing thousands of tribesmen for jihad in Afghanistan. With his outfit banned in 2009, he was put into detention. He was succeeded by his son-in-law Mullah Fazlullah, also known as ‘Mullah Radio’. Fazlullah later became the chief of TTP. Other prominent leaders of TNSM were Molvi Faqir Mohammad and Maulana Liaqat. The outfit operated in the tribal areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Structure of the Organization
The outfit had an estimated 10,000 members in 2001, according to Pakistan Journal of History and Culture. The New York Times reported that they had a power of approximately 4,000 in 2004.
Hizb-ul-Tahrir Pakistan (HuT)
Hizb-ul-Tahrir was founded by a Palestinian cleric and judge Taqiuddin Nabhani in Jerusalem in 1953 with the objective to unite Muslim states around the idea of an Islamic caliphate governed by Shariah. HuT has spread to over 40 countries including the US, the UK, and Pakistan since its inception. In Pakistan, HuT Pakistan was set up by Imtiaz Malik in 2000.
Imtiaz Malik, a British citizen of Pakistani origin, was the founder of HuT. In the 1990s, Malik along with nine others travelled to Pakistan to establish HuT chapter in the country. His current status and location is unknown. The HuT’s spokesperson in Pakistan was Naveed Butt who was reportedly inspired by the outfit during his study in the United States. In May 2012, Butt was abducted by unidentified persons and has been missing since. Similarly, another HuT leader Imran Yousafzai also went missing in 2012. Very little is known about him. The HuT Pakistan’s deputy spokesman, Shehzad Sheikh, is believed to hail from Karachi where he reportedly act as a recruiter for the outfit. No more information is available about him.
HuT seeks to create Islamic caliphate run by Shariah laws in countries like Pakistan, and abolish democracy.
Structure of the Organization
HuT reportedly operates in over 50 countries including the U.S, the UK, Russia, Germany, Turkey, Bangladesh, Australia, Kazakhstan, and Pakistan. It has a massive global network, and boasts over a million members worldwide.
HuT’s financial operations are largely unknown. However, they are believed to be financed by donations and contributions from their Middle Eastern and UK branches. HuT’s London office is reportedly most active in raising funds. HuT is proscribed in many countries. Pakistan proscribed it in 2004.
JeI was formed in 2004 by Mufti Munir Shakir who ran an illegal radio station in Bara. The objective of JeI was to establish Shariah in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. Shakir was succeeded by Mangal Bagh who was previously a driver by profession. JeI believes in suppression of women and harbors hatred against Shiites and Ahmadis.
The outfit mainly got funding through smuggling of goods at the Pak-Afghan border. After a security crackdown in 2009 cut their smuggling routes, the group’s revenues nosedived. It is also believed to extract funds through kidnappings for ransom. The outfit has been banned in Pakistan. In Mar 2009, JeI claimed responsibility for blowing up the shrine of famous Pashto poet Rehman Baba near Peshawar. In Jun 2010, it had an armed confrontation with TTP terrorists which left 25 people dead.
Shia Tulba Action Committee (STAC)
The Shia Tulba Action Committee was founded in Pakistan’s northern areas of Gilgit-Baltistan. The outfit claims to protect the persecuted Shiite community in Pakistan. The exact date of its formation is unknown. The group subscribes to Shiite Muslim faith. It was proscribed on 10 Oct 2011. Its prominent leaders and activists include:
- Allama Mirza Yusuf Hussain
- Syed Sagheer Abid Razavi
- Syed Ali Aosat
- Sohail Mirza and
- Hasan SagheerAbidi
The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU)
The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan was created as a reaction to the banning of Adolat Islamic Party by Uzbek Prime Minister Islam Karimov in early 1990s. The IMU’s founding members were Taher Yaldashev and Namagani. The movement developed during and following the civil war in Tajikistan.
The IMU command was controlled by Yuldashev, Namangani and then by Usmon Adil. Yuldashev was a renowned young mullah in the underground Islamic movement and he was 24 years old at the time he founded the IMU. Yuldashev settled in South Waziristan after the US invasion of Afghanistan. Soon, he became famous among the local people for his fiery speeches at local mosques. Yuldashev was killed in a drone strike. After his death, Usmon Adil, another Uzbek Islamist took the charge of IMU. He was also killed in drone strike in 2012. Pakistan proscribed IMU in Mar 2013.
In its early days, its recruits were purely Uzbeks who operated mainly in Central Asia and northern Afghanistan. The US invasion of Afghanistan forced them to move into Pakistan’s tribal areas. Besides, Uzbeks the outfit also has members from Tajik and Turkmen people.
During the movement’s initial years, Yuldashev travelled to various countries like Turkey to seek political and financial support for his outfit. At that time, some countries did provide aid to the IMU. Al-Qaeda also extended financial and material support to it.
Areas of Operation
Pakistan, Russia, Central Asia, and Afghanistan.
Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF)
The FIF was established as a charity wing of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) in 1990. It has been banned in Pakistan.
The JuA came into being in 2014 as a faction of TTP. The split was spearheaded by former TTP commander Omar Khalid Khorasani after he developed differences with Mullah Fazlullah. Other prominent leader of JuA is Ehsanullah Ehsan who served as the TTP spokesman.
JuA has reportedly been receiving support from the Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP). It carries out attacks against the interests of Pakistani state. The outfit recruits members from tribal regions including Mohmand, Khyber, Charsada, and Peshawar, and Bajaur etc.
The group carried out twin bombings, killing at least six people in the Mohmand Agency in Nov 2014. Later, it attacked a Roman Catholic Church in Lahore that left 15 people dead and around 70 wounded in Mar 2015. The outfit seeks to impose Shariah in Pakistan.
Al-Rashid Trust (ART)
Al Rashid Trust was established as an Islamic humanitarian organization in 1996. It opened 21 offices in Pakistan and also expanded its presence to Chechnya, Kosovo, and Afghanistan as a counterweight to Western-funded NGOs whom it considers as ‘enemies of Islam’. The ART provided funds to the Taliban and other similar organizations as relief packages. Headquartered in Karachi, the organization also publishes a newspaper called ‘Zarb-e-Momin’.
The Pakistani diasporas in the Middle East and the UK are major sources of funding for the ART. It also raises significant amounts of revenue locally in Pakistan. The organization has been proscribed by Pakistan, the US, and the UN.
Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee. “The List established and maintained by the Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee with respect to individuals, groups, undertakings and other entities associated with Al-Qaida.” The United Nations. 2 Jun. 2014. Web. 25 Jun. 2014; Department of Public Information. “Security Council Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee Amends Entry of One Entity on its Sanctions List.” The United Nations, 30, May. 2013. Web. 25 Jun. 2014.
Mujtaba Rathore, MasrorHausen, Amir Rana, Safdar Sial and Abdul Mateen. Profiling the Violence in Karachi. Conflict and Peace Studies, Volume 2, Number 3. July-Sept 2009. Page number 17