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Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ)

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is a Sunni terrorist group formed in 1996 by a group of radical sectarian extremists of the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) a Sunni extremist outfit, which accused the parent organisation of deviating from the ideals of its slain co- founder, Maulana Haq Nawaz Jhangvi. It is from Maulana Jhangvi that the LeJ derives its name. It was formed under the leadership of Akram Lahori and Riaz Basra. The LeJ is one of the two sectarian terrorist outfits proscribed on August 14, 2001, by President Pervez Musharraf.

The LeJ aims to transform Pakistan into a Sunni state, primarily through violent means. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is part of the broader Deoband movement

Muhammad Ajmal alias Akram Lahori is reportedly the present Saalar-i-Aala ('Commander-in-Chief') of the LeJ. Lahori was originally with the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), which he had joined in 1990. Subsequently, in 1996, he along with Malik Ishaque and Riaz Basra founded the LeJ and launched terrorist activities in Punjab.

The active cadre strength of the LeJ is approximately 300. Most of these cadres are either under arrest in Pakistan or were based in the various training camps in Afghanistan, from where they regularly came to Pakistan to carry out terrorist activities. Media reports have also added that the outfit is never short of cadres, in spite of the large-scale arrests or the deaths of cadres in encounters. Media reports in September 2001 have indicated that the LeJ has been fielding newer cadres to evade arrests.

The LeJ's chief area of operation is within Pakistan, where it has admitted responsibility for numerous massacres of Shias and targeted killings of Shia religious and community leaders.

The Al Qaeda network is suspected to have worked with LeJ cadres to plan both the car-bomb attacks. Intelligence sources have indicated that certain LeJ terrorists arrested in Karachi in June 2002 have been allegedly working with the Al Qaeda to strike at targets in Pakistan.

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