ISKP vs LeT in Pakistan: Intensifying Terror Rivalry

In a chilling confrontation between terrorist groups, Pakistan finds itself grappling with a deadly showdown as the Islamic State-Khorasan Province (ISKP) clashes with Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). Recent months have witnessed a series of violent encounters that have left Pakistan’s security forces on high alert. The billion dollar question is who is funding ISKP to attack LeT?

The Conflict Unfolds: The recent escalation highlights the tensions between ISKP and LeT, with a particular focus on the latter’s affiliate, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD). Reports indicate that Lashkar has lost five prominent terrorists associated with JuD over the past few months, leaving a void that has not gone unnoticed. The most proficient and skilled terrorist organisation functioning in South Asia, according to South Asia specialist Christine Fair, is Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD, Society for Proselytization), also known as Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT).

ISKP Strikes: In the most recent incident, ISKP claimed responsibility for shooting an Imam associated with JuD on October 27. According to Pakistan media he was shot at during the Friday prayers. This targeted killing follows a grim pattern of violence, marking the third such gunman attack to be claimed by ISKP in the span of just one week.

Changing Dynamics: What makes this rivalry even more concerning for Pakistan is the evident shift in power dynamics among extremist organizations. In recent months, multiple individuals associated with Lashkar’s ranks have met their demise, often at the hands of various extremist factions. The following incidents provide a glimpse into the ever-evolving landscape:

  1. On May 30, a terrorist (Abdul Salam Bhuttavi) linked to the 26/11 attacks passed away due to a heart attack while in a Pakistani prison.
  2. August 7 witnessed the Sindhudesh Revolutionary Army (SRA) assassinating a prominent leader of Jamait-ul-Dawa (Lashkar-e-Taiba), Sardar Hussain Arain, in Qazi Ahmed, further highlighting the vulnerability of LeT’s leadership.
  3. In addition to the October 27 attack, two other men associated with JuD were shot at by ISKP within the last week, shedding light on the escalating tension between rival terrorist groups.

On May 30, the United Nations-designated terrorist Abdul Salam Bhuttavi, a key figure involved in preparing Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists for the 26/11 Mumbai Attacks. Bhuttavi, who was also the founder of the terror group Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), succumbed to a cardiac arrest while in custody at Sheikhupura Jail, Pakistan. His role extended to issuing fatwas for these notorious terrorist organizations, his death has left a significant void in JuD’s leadership.

On August 7th, in its statement released yesterday, SRA (Sindhudesh Revolutionary Army) said:

“SRA claims responsibility of attack on the Jamait-ul-Dawa (Lashkar e Taiba) Leader and Punjabi Settler ‘Sardar Hussain Arain’ in Qazi Ahmed, Nawabshah today.
Sardar Hussain Arain was a Pakistani Agency’s agent, running network of a religious extremist group ‘Jamait-ul-Dawa (Lashkar e Taiba)’ . He contested 2018 election from platform of ‘A-o-A Tahreek’, political front of LeT.”

Arain came under attack on 1st August in Qazi Ahmed city, Nawabshah while traveling from his residence to one of his shops. According to local sources, Arain played an influential role in expanding network of JuD’s religious schools and LeT’s local centers.

JuD was created in 1985, by terrorist HafizSaeed and Zafar Iqbal which later began coordinating with Pakistan’s spy agency ISI for carrying out terror activities inside India.

As the conflict intensifies, Pakistani authorities are under immense pressure to contain this internal strife. The clashes between ISKP and LeT, along with other factions, have exposed the vulnerability of Pakistan’s security landscape, warranting a comprehensive approach to counter-terrorism efforts. In the wake of these violent confrontations, Pakistan faces the challenge of not only safeguarding its citizens but also upholding its global commitment to combat terrorism.

The ISKP, following its policy, operates as a terrorist mercenary organization. This leads to hypotheses suggesting that either Pakistan’s spy agency, ISI, is funding ISKP to eliminate terrorists on its soil, thereby preventing Pakistan from being grey-listed by FATF (Financial action task force).

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