Sipahe Sahab Pakistan(SSP, currently camouflaged as Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat ASWJ) is a banned extremist organization.
Comprising radicalised Jihadi-sectarian assets of Pakistan army, the SSP-SWJ represents a tiny minority of the Deobandi sub-sect of Sunni Islam, and per se does not represent the majority of Sunni Barelvi, Deobandi or Salafi Muslims.
Sunni Muslims inPakistanare divided into three main sects or sub-sects: Barelvis (70%), Deobandi (25%) and Ahl-e-Hadith (5%).
During the CIA-Saudi sponsored Jihad against the Soviet-backed regime in Afghanistan (1979-87), Pakistan army (ISI in particular) recruited and brainwashed thousands of Deobandi Muslims, most of them from Deobandi madarasahs (seminaries) in Pakistan and Afghanistan, to deploy cheap mercenaries in the so called Jihad in Afghanistan.
There were two types of Deobandi Jihadis produced by Pakistan army: Internal and External.
The Internal Jihadis were tasked to attack all those individuals and groups (political parties, religious sects, rights groups etc) who could cause an obstruction in the way ofPakistanarmy’s international Jihadist agenda. WithinPakistan, the internal jihadis focused on killing leaders of progressive political parties (e.g., ANP, PPP, other progressive intellectuals etc) as well as religious sects opposed to radical Deobandi-Wahhabi agenda. Shias, Sunni Barelvis, Ahmadis and Christians were particularly targeted by the brainwashed Jihadist Deobandis.
The External Jihadis were tasked to operate in Afghanistan, India, Bosnia, Chechnya and other countries to promote the goal of international Islamic Empire or Caliphate.
In view of the mounting international pressure in the aftermath of the 9/11, General Musharraf declared the extremist Deobandi organization (the internal Jihadi branch) Sipahe Sahaba as outlawed in 2002. The organization was banned in 2002 as a terrorist organization under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997.
However, while the SSP was apparently banned, the organization was secretly allowed to operate byPakistan’s military establishment. The organization continued its Jihadi-sectarian activities by simply adopting a new name “Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat” (ASWJ).
The adopting of the ASWJ was a cunning move by the SSP leadership because Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal-Jamaat or Jamaat-e-Ahle-Sunnat is a name particularly used byPakistan’s Sunni Barelvis, moderate Sufi Muslims who constitute a dominant majority ofPakistan’s Sunni Muslims and are strictly opposed to extremist Deobandis’ (SSP) Jihadi-sectarian agenda.
In fact, Jihadi-sectarian militants of SSP (which also operates as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi LeJ) have conducted numerous attacks not only on Shias, Ahamdis and Christians but also on Sunni Barelvis in which hundreds of Barelvi Muslims have been killed or injured.
Jihadi-sectarian militants of the SSP-LeJ are pro-Wahhabi and puritanical in their ideological interpretation and practice of Islam and consider Sunni-Barelvi Muslims as polytheists (mushrik) and deviant Muslims. In the last few years, LeJ-SSP-Taliban terrorists have attacked dozens of Sunni Barelvi congregations including attacks on sufi shrines in Islmabad, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar etc and also attacks on Eid Milad-un-Nabi’s processions and Sunni Barelvi mosques. Numerous Sunni Barelvi leaders have been killed by the LeJ-SSP militants including but not limited to Saleem Qadri, Abbas Qadri, Sarfraz Naeemi and several others.
List of key attacks on Sunni Barelvis by extremist Deobandis of SSP:
18 May 2001: Sunni Tehreek leader Saleem Qadri was assassinated by the SSP. His successor, Abbas Qadri, charged President Pervez Musharraf’s regime with “patronising terrorists” and “standing between us and the murderers.” (Source). Various Sunni Barelvi outfits alleged that the country’s intelligence agencies were responsible for the killing of Maulana Saleem Qadri. According to these outfits, the agencies were utilising the SSP to trigger sectarian violence among the Shia, Deoband and Sunni Barelwi sects. (Source). When the SSP’sKarachifinance secretary was arrested after the murder of Sunni Tehreek chief Saleem Qadri, he revealed that his organisation received 32 lakh rupees a year from Karachi for the purposes of posting bail, assisting its imprisoned activists and the families of deceased activists. This entire amount was reportedly kept as amanat (safe custody) with one Maulvi Saadur Rehman, head of a religious school inKarachi, and the withdrawals were made through written messages. (Source). Qadri, a high-profile Muslim cleric of the Sunni Barelvi school, was ambushed, apparently by a team of six well-trained assassins riding three motorbikes while he was on his way to Noorani Masjid in Rasheedabad no 7 for the Friday congregation. Qadri and five others were killed on the spot, and three others, including his six-year-old son Bilal Raza, and eight-year-old nephew, Ahmed Raza, were wounded. The dead include Anis Qadri, 23, Mohammed Altaf Junejo, 40 (Qadri’s nephew and brother-in-law), Ibrahim Qadri, 30, van driver Abid Baloch, 30, and police constable, Hafeez Qadri. The corpse of one of the killers, who was later identified as “Arshad alias Polka, an activist of the Sipha-e-SahabaPakistan(SSP)”, was also found in the vicinity of the Qadri killing soon afterwards, who was killed in retaliatory firing by Saleem Qadri’s guards. (Source)
19 March 2005: An SSP-LeJ suicide bomber killed 36 at the shrine of Pir Rakhel Shah in Jhal Magsi, Balochistan.
27 May 2005: As many as 20 people were killed and 100 were injured on May 27, 2005 when an extremist Deobandi suicide-bomber attacked a gathering at Bari Imam Shrine during the annual festival. According to the police the two men, said to be active members of Sipah-e-SahabaPakistan(SSP), were arrested from Thanda Pani and police seized two hand grenades from their custody. The police said that the two men brought the suicide-bomber from Northern Areas and provided him boarding at the house of another member of the SSP inRawalpindibefore sending the attacker to the shrine.
11 April 2006: A grand Sunni Barelvi congregation celebrating the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad on Eid Milad un Nabi was suicide-bombed by an extremist Deobandi. 57 died including almost the entire leadership of the Sunni Tehrik; over 100 were injured. T
16 December 2008: Pir Samiullah was killed by extremist Deobandis in Swat, his dead body was exhumed and desecrated.
17 January 2009: Pir Rafiullah was killed inPeshawar.
18 February 2009: JUP-Noorani’s provincial leader Maulana Iftikhar Ahmed Habibi was killed inQuetta.
8 March 2009: Attack on Rahman Baba Shrine by extremist Deobandis
12 June 2009: Mufti Sarfraz Ahmed Naeemi was killed by an extremist Deobandi. He was a leading Sunni Islamic cleric fromPakistanwell known for his moderate and anti-terrorist views. He was killed in a suicide bombing in Lahore, Pakistan after publicly denouncing the Taliban’s terrorist actions and ideologies.
2 September 2009: Attack on Hamid Saeed Kazmi in Islamabad. He sustained injuries but survived.
1 July 2010: The July 2010Lahorebombings occurred in Lahore. Two suicide bombers blew themselves up at the Sufi shrine, Data Durbar Complex. At least 50 people died and 200 others were hurt in the blasts.
7 October 2010: 10 people killed, 50 injured in an attack on Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine in Karachi
25 October 2010: 5 killed, several injured in an attack on the shrine of Baba Farid Ganj Shakar in Pakpattan.
14 December 2010: Attack on Ghazi Baba shrine in Peshawar, 3 killed.
3 April 2011: At the annual festival of Sakhi Sarwar Shrine near D.G.Khan, a twin suicide attack left 42 dead and almost a hundred injured.
List of Deobandi and Wahhabi Muslims killed by SSP:
30 May 2004: A senior Deobandi religious scholar and head of Islamic religious school Jamia Binoria, Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai, was gunned down in his car while leaving his home in Karachi.
17 September 2007: Maulana Hasan Jan was killed in Peshawar.
19 September 2008: A bomb exploded at an Islamic religious school inQuettakilling five people and wounding at least eight. The school was run by Jamiat Ulemae Islam of Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman.
2 October 2010: Dr Muhammad Farooq Khan, Mardan