Defining the Punjabi Taliban Network
By Hassan Abbas, CTC Sentinnel, April 2009
On march 30, 2009, militants launched a deadly assault on a police training center outside Lahore, the capital of Pakistan’s Punjab Province. Eight police cadets were killed, and nearly 100 injured. Less than a month earlier, on March 3, gunmen in Lahore ambushed members of the visiting Sri Lankan cricket team, killing at least eight people. Punjab, the most populated of Pakistan’s provinces, has largely escaped the bloodshed plaguing the country’s troubled northwest. Yet since 2007, violence has escalated in the province. The increasingly bold terrorist attacks in Pakistan’s heartland—within Punjab Province and in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad—show that local logistical support for these attacks is attributable to what is often labeled the “Punjabi Taliban” network. The major factions of this network include operatives from Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan and Jaysh-Muhammad — all groups that were previously strictly focused on Kashmir and domestic sectarian violence.
Members of these groups are increasingly supporting Taliban elements from Pakistan’s tribal regions to conduct attacks in sensitive cities such as Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Lahore. Ongoing investigations into the Marriott hotel bombing that rocked Islamabad in September 2008, in which dozens of Punjabi suspects were arrested and interrogated, show the role played by Punjabi militants. One unnamed investigator working on the Marriott attack revealed that “all evidences of the terrorist bombing led to South Waziristan via Jhang [a city in Punjab where Lashkar-i-Jhangvi has strong links]. The truck that was rammed into the hotel was also from Jhang.”
This article attempts to define the Punjabi Taliban network, in addition to profiling the three main factions that contribute to its ranks.
For complete article (pdf), click here
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