Name of Organization   Sipah-e Sahaba Pakistan (SSP)
Formation  

The outfit was founded on September 06, 1985 in Jhang, Punjab. The organization was formed under the philosophy to counter Shia influence against Sunni sect[1].

Leadership  

Maulana Haq Nawaz Jhangvi was the founder of Anjuman-e Sipah-e Sahaba Pakistan along with Maulana Zia ur-Rehman Farooqi, Maulana Isar ul-Haq Qasmi and Maulana Azam Tariq. Allama Ali Sher Ghazni is the Patron-in-Chief of the outfit. Maulana Zia ul-Qasmi serves as the Chairman, Supreme Council[2]. Haq Nawaz was born in 1952 at Jhang. He is known to have received no formal education after the fourth grade, but spent a considerable time in religious seminaries in Punjab. He later became a cleric at a local mosque in Jhang city and also participated in the anti-Ahmedi movement in 1974. Jhangvi due to his anti-Shia and anti-Ahmedi activities earned the reputation of a fiery cleric. He also became the deputy leader of Punjab chapter of Jamiat-e Ulema-e Islam (JUI). He later left the party and formed SSP, launching political and militant campaign against Shia landowning class in Jhang. This campaign with support and funding from various local and foreign sources gained momentum throughout Pakistan. Haq Nawaz was gunned down outside his home on February 22, 1990.

After the death of Jhangvi, Maulana Isar ul-Haq Qasmi took over the leadership of the outfit. He was elected in the national assembly during the elections and became the first official SSP parliament member. Qasmi was killed by Shia militants in January 1991. Subsequently, Zia ur-Rehman Farooqi then assumed the role of leadership. He also allied the organization with the then ruling Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) strengthening the organization’s political presence. Farooqi was killed in a bomb blast at Lahore courthouse on January 18, 1997. Azam Tariq was the next in line for the leadership of SSP. Tariq was born in 1962 and hailed from Chichawatni, Punjab. He spent some time in Karachi after graduation and joined SSP as a founding member. He also became a member of parliament and introduced a legislation believed to be anti-Shia, namely the Namus-e Sahaba Bill (Honor of the Companions of the Prophet). During his tenure he strengthened the organization’s nexus with other militant/terrorist outfits including Al-Qaeda, Taliban, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Harkat ul-Mujahideen and Jaish-e Muhammad. After 2002 elections he allied with the pro-Musharraf alliance. Azam Tariq was killed on October 06, 2003 in Islamabad by Shia militants.

Ali Sher Haideri from Kharpur, Sindh was the leader of the outfit till August 17, 2009, when he was gunned down after leaving a rally. Muhammad Ahmad Ludhianvi is the current leader of the outfit[3]. He contested in elections 2013 from provincial and national assembly seats but was defeated[4].
 

School of Thought   Deobandi:

These are a significant group of Muslims present in the sub-continent, who adhere to the Sunni sect and follow the ideology of Imam Abu Hanifah. The school of thought is named after University of Deoband Dar ul-Aloom in India. They believe in safeguarding the teachings of Islam, while spreading the religion through preaching[5].

SSP has its own extremist version of ideology, where it considers Shia sect and Barelvi school of thought as non-Muslims. They justify use of force against other sects in order to preserve their interpretation of Islamic values[6].
 

Structure of the Organization  

As per International Crisis Group estimates the organization had a strength of around 5,000 – 6,000 personnel in 2004. During the initial years, the central executive committee of SSP consisted of 28 founding members[7]. The outfit developed small urban based chapters under the management of a local leader. The main offices and command were created in main cities across Pakistan[8].
 

Financial Resources  

The organization has acquired significant funding from middle east countries, especially private donations from Saudi Arabia. Besides this it also collects zakats and donations from wealthy individuals in Pakistan[9]. The organization extorts protection from businesses[10], while it is also believed to be involved in narcotics trade and criminal activities[11].
 

Status  

The outfit was proscribed by the Pakistani government on January 14, 2002 [12]. The group was re-designated a terrorist outfit in September 2003, after it changed its name to Millat-e Islamia Pakistan [13]. The organization has currently adopted the name of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) and has contested the 2013 elections under this banner [14].
 

Recruitment Tools & Demographics  

SSP gathers its human resource from Deobandi extremist seminaries across South Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh. It also utilizes its linkages with other militant organizations such as Al-Qaeda, Taliban and Jaish-e Muhammad to replenish its ranks [15].
 

Ideology  

The organization has been established on a Sunni sectarian ideology, where the group believes that Pakistan should be declared and run as a Sunni state. They consider Shia as non-Muslims and want to implement their interpretation of Shariah law. The outfit is also against the coalition of Pakistan and US in the war on terror.

Areas of Operation  

Sargodha, Bahawalpur, Jhang, Multan and Muzaffargarh in Punjab province are considered the stronghold of SSP. The organization has operations running throughout Pakistan, while it also has acquired a significant vote bank through their political activities [16].

Linkages  

SSP has established links with Al-Qaeda, Taliban, Jaish-e Muhammad (JeM) and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). The organization also has deep-rooted links with its splinter group or offshoot Lashkar-e Jhangvi (LeJ) [17].

Resources    
     
Tools  

Print Media:
As per the available information SSP utilizes books[18] and magazines[19] to promote their ideology and incite sectarian hatred. These are published and maintained by Jhangvi Media Movement. These publications are available at http://jmmpak.org/ and http://archive.org/details/Books.Jmmpak.

Audio/Video:
The outfit is also utilizing audio[20] /visual[21] tools to disseminate their agenda. These tools are meant towards gaining outreach to individuals who are less literate or are not in the habit of reading. Jhangvi Media Movement also maintains these tools, which are available at
http://jmmpak.org/

Social Media:
AThe group is also active on social media and propagates its ideology on the following links.
Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ahl-E-Sunnat-Wa-JamaatSunniHanfi/150514215051449?ref=ts&fref=ts
https://www.facebook.com/sspnews1official
 

Al-Esar Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/AlesarNews
https://www.facebook.com/Forceofmuslims?ref=ts&fref=ts
https://www.facebook.com/ulmaedeobnad
 

Twitter:
https://twitter.com/SipahESahaba
https://twitter.com/SSPNEWS1 
 

    Websites:
There are various websites which are being maintained by SSP. These promote sectarian tensions and propagate the extremist ideology of the outfit.


http://ahlesunnat.info/
http://sipah-e-sahaba.org/
www.ownislam.com
http://www.khatm-e-nubuwwat.com/
http://www.kr-hcy.com/
http://www.jhangvi-shaheed.com/  (not working)
http://www.jhuf.net  (not working)
http://www.kr-hcy.com/multimedia/anti-shia/jhangvi/index.shtml
http://www.sipah-e-sahaba.webs.com/Establishment%20of%20Sipah-e-Sahaba%20Pakistan%20%28SSP%29.htm
http://jmmpak.org/


Proscribed websites:
http://www.alesar.com.pk/
www.thelalmasjid.com 


Service Delivery:

In the floods of August 2010, SSP activists were deployed in areas of Jhang, Layyah, Muzzaffargarh, Peshawar and Nowshera areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The group members did not identify themselves, just to avoid attention by the government[22].

 

Name Variations

Anjuman-e Sipah-e-Sahaba, Guardians of the Friends of the Prophets, Millat-e Islamia Pakistan and Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat[23].

Who they are

Sipah-e Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) has incited and carried out sectarian violence against Shias throughout Pakistan since 1985. It demands for Pakistan to be declared a Sunni state and run under its interpretation of Shariah law. Its tactics include target killing of high profile Shia leaders, while it is also involved in mass killings and attacks on processions and congregations. The organization also targets Ahmedis and Barelvis as they are considered non-Muslim by the outfit. Besides this the group has also carried out activities against foreign targets on Pakistani soil. During the riots resulting after the killing of SSP leader Zia ur-Rehman Farooqi, Iranian cultural centers in Lahore and Multan were set on fire[24]. The outfit also has been involved in active politics and its leaders have contested in elections and have even been elected to national assembly seats. The group also developed ties with Jaish-e Muhammad (JeM), Taliban and Al-Qaeda during the 1990s and its members have also been involved in the civil war in Afghanistan. It also has close ties with its splinter group or offshoot Lashkar-e Jhangvi (LeJ) and provides support to its violent activities against rival sectarian groups[25].
    

History

The organization was formed on September 06, 1985 in Jhang, as a reaction to the growing Shia influence after the 1979 Iranian revolution. Another premise for the formation of this outfit is identified as to undermine the influential Shia landowners in South Punjab. The organization strives to declare Pakistan a Sunni state, while it also participates in sectarian violence. The outfit attacked Shia congregations, processions, mosques, targeted rival leaders, Iranian diplomats and infrastructure within Pakistan. Maulana Haq Nawaz Jhangvi was the founder of Anjuman-e Sipah-e Sahaba Pakistan along with Maulana Zia ur-Rehman Farooqi, Maulana Isar ul-Haq Qasmi and Maulana Azam Tariq. All of the founding members of SSP were killed in targeted attacks. The group has taken part in the political scene within Pakistan and from 1993 – 1996 it supported then ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP). Its leaders also lent support to the Musharraf government till 2003[26].
During the 1990s the group established strong ties with other militant groups operating in Afghanistan and Kashmir. SSP had ties with Al-Qaeda, Taliban and Jaish-e Muhammad (JeM). Yousaf Ludhianvi, who was the chief commander of SSP was also declared supreme leader of JeM. During the leadership of Zia ur-Rehman Farooqi from 1991 – 1997, the group spread its influence and operations at countrywide scale. However, this period also witnessed considerable divisions among the organization leading to the formation of Lashkar-e Jhangvi (LeJ) in 1996. Despite the falling out, SSP has provided support to LeJ and has been involved in terrorism incidents carried out by the splinter group
[27].


Haq Nawaz Jahngvi Founder of SSP

The outfit was proscribed by the Pakistani government on January 14, 2002[28]. The group was re-designated a terrorist outfit in September 2003, after it changed its name to Millat-e Islamia Pakistan[29]. The organization has currently adopted the name of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) and has contested the 2013 elections under this banner[30]     

Organization's message

Sipah-e Sahaba follows an extremist interpretation of Sunni/Deobandi sect, where they deem Shia sect and Barelvis as non-Muslims and also carry out violence against Ahmedis. The outfit apparently claims to protect the interest of the Sunnis against the exploitation and influence of Shias. They demand Pakistan to be declared as a Sunni state and to be run under their interpretation of the Shariah law[31].

Target audience

The organization focuses upon all segments of the society, with a Deobandi ideological mindset. They concentrate especially on the youth in religious seminaries for recruitment among the ranks. They have influence in various areas throughout Pakistan; however their strongholds remain the districts of Sargodha, Bahawalpur, Jhang, Multan and Muzaffargarh in Southern Punjab region.

Tools

This organization uses offline and online tools like print and electronic media e.g. magazines, radio and television etc to promote their ideology. Despite the organization’s tools and dissemination being banned it uses social media like Facebook to disseminate their agenda. Following are some of the websites and links that are associated with Sipah-e Sahaba Pakistan. Links to speeches made by their prominent leaders are available on these websites. However most of the links either don’t exist or have been proscribed.
• Offline Tools
Most of the offline tools employed by SSP have been proscribed. Al-Esar was a newspaper considered as mouthpiece of the organization. It was a newspaper of Difa E Sihab published from Karachi. However, this newspaper has an updated Facebook page (last monitored December 31, 2012). It was launched on September 12, 2012 with 1,401 likes (monitoring date 6th Dec 2012). Official website of Al-Esar newspaper has been proscribed.
However, the organization openly organizes rallies, conferences and seminars. It is also important to mention here that, although SSP was banned back in 2002 and it now operates under the banner of Ahl-e Sunnat wal Jamaat, but its leaders still like to call it SSP. Some images of their rallies, conferences and seminars etc. are provided, click
here to download complete details of tools being used by SSP

 

The above image is an advertisement of a seminar titled ‘Shaan-e Ameer Muavia.’ This upcoming seminar will be organized in Lahore on January 5, 2013. This advertisement was printed in Sialkot and also provides the link to their website . It also announces that the seminar can also be streamed live on the website.

The above image is an advertisement of the reception of the participants of the long march, which will start from Karachi and according to the advertisement, will reach Gujarat on January 17, 2013

Splinter Groups

Lashkar-e Jhangvi (LeJ):
Lashkar-e Jhangvi is a splinter group of SSP which was formed somewhere in the mid-1990s. The group was formed under the leadership of Riaz Basra, Akram Lahori, and Malik Ishaq. The group apparently split after SSP participated in reconciliatory efforts with rival sectarian outfits in 1995 – 96. LeJ stepped up violent sectarian conflict through their activities and was formally banned by the Pakistani government in 2001. The group is allied with
Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and has links with Al-Qaeda.
This upcoming seminar will be organized in Lahore on January 5, 2013. This advertisement was printed in Sialkot and also provides the link to their website . It also announces that the seminar can also be streamed live on the website.

 

 

References:

 [1] Stanford University. (2012). Mapping Militant Organizations: Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan. February 15, 2012. Retrieved on: September 18, 2013. Retrieved on: http://www.stanford.edu/group/mappingmilitants/cgi-bin/groups/view/147.

[2] South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP). Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan. Retrieved on: September 20, 2013. Retrieved from: http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/pakistan/terroristoutfits/ssp.htm.

[3] Stanford University. (2012). Mapping Militant Organizations: Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan. February 15, 2012. Retrieved on: September 18, 2013. Retrieved on: http://www.stanford.edu/group/mappingmilitants/cgi-bin/groups/view/147.

[4] The Nation. (2013). MDM rallies, demands re-polling in NA-89, PP-78. May 21, 2013. Retrieved on: September 20, 2013. Retrieved from: http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/national/21-May-2013/mdm-rallies-demands-re-polling-in-na-89-pp-78.

[5] IslamQA. Deobandis. Retrieved on: September 19, 2013. Retrieved from: http://www.islam-qa.com/en/22473.

[6] Stanford University. (2012). Mapping Militant Organizations: Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan. February 15, 2012. Retrieved on: September 18, 2013. Retrieved on: http://www.stanford.edu/group/mappingmilitants/cgi-bin/groups/view/147.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Institute for the Study of Violent Groups (ISVG). Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan. Retrieved on: September 19, 2013. Retrieved from: http://vkb.isvg.org/Wiki/Groups/Sipah-e-Sahaba_Pakistan.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Stanford University. (2012). Mapping Militant Organizations: Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan. February 15, 2012. Retrieved on: September 18, 2013. Retrieved on: http://www.stanford.edu/group/mappingmilitants/cgi-bin/groups/view/147

[12] The Express Tribune. (2012). List of banned organisations in Pakistan. October 24, 2012. Retrieved on: September 19, 2013. Retrieved from: http://tribune.com.pk/story/456294/list-of-banned-organisations-in-pakistan/

[13] National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START). Sipah-e-Sahaba/Pakistan (SSP). Retrieved on: September 19, 2013. Retrieved from: http://www.start.umd.edu/start/data_collections/tops/terrorist_organization_profile.asp?id=3870

[14] Walsh, D. (2013). Extremists Pursue Mainstream in Pakistan Election. The New York Times. May 05, 2013. Retrieved on: September 24, 2013. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/06/world/asia/extremists-pursue-mainstream-in-pakistan-election.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

[15] Stanford University. (2012). Mapping Militant Organizations: Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan. February 15, 2012. Retrieved on: September 18, 2013. Retrieved on: http://www.stanford.edu/group/mappingmilitants/cgi-bin/groups/view/147

[16] Ali, N. S. (2013). Faustian Bargain. Dawn. April, 2013. Retrieved on: September 24, 2013. Retrieved from: http://x.dawn.com/2013/04/23/faustian-bargain/

[17] Stanford University. (2012). Mapping Militant Organizations: Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan. February 15, 2012. Retrieved on: September 18, 2013. Retrieved on: http://www.stanford.edu/group/mappingmilitants/cgi-bin/groups/view/147

[18] Books: Jhangvi Media Movement (JMM). Retrieved on: December 26, 2012. Retrieved from: http://jmmpak.org/index.php/books.html

[19] Magazines: Jhangvi Media Movement (JMM). Retrieved on: December 26, 2012. Retrieved from: http://jmmpak.org/index.php/magzines.html

[20] Audio: Jhangvi Media Movement (JMM). Retrieved on: December 26, 2012. Retrieved from: http://jmmpak.org/index.php/audios.html

[21] Videos: Jhangvi Media Movement (JMM). Retrieved on: December 26, 2012. Retrieved from: http://jmmpak.org/index.php/videos.html

[22] Institute for the Study of Violent Groups (ISVG). Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan. Retrieved on: September 19, 2013. Retrieved from: http://vkb.isvg.org/Wiki/Groups/Sipah-e-Sahaba_Pakistan

[23] Stanford University. (2012). Mapping Militant Organizations: Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan. February 15, 2012. Retrieved on: September 18, 2013. Retrieved on: http://www.stanford.edu/group/mappingmilitants/cgi-bin/groups/view/147

[24] Ibid.

[25] South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP). Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan. Retrieved on: September 20, 2013. Retrieved from: http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/pakistan/terroristoutfits/ssp.htm

[26] Stanford University. (2012). Mapping Militant Organizations: Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan. February 15, 2012. Retrieved on: September 18, 2013. Retrieved on: http://www.stanford.edu/group/mappingmilitants/cgi-bin/groups/view/147

[27] Ibid.

[28] The Express Tribune. (2012). List of banned organisations in Pakistan. October 24, 2012. Retrieved on: September 19, 2013. Retrieved from: http://tribune.com.pk/story/456294/list-of-banned-organisations-in-pakistan/

[29] National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START). Sipah-e-Sahaba/Pakistan (SSP). Retrieved on: September 19, 2013. Retrieved from: http://www.start.umd.edu/start/data_collections/tops/terrorist_organization_profile.asp?id=3870

[30] Walsh, D. (2013). Extremists Pursue Mainstream in Pakistan Election. The New York Times. May 05, 2013. Retrieved on: September 24, 2013. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/06/world/asia/extremists-pursue-mainstream-in-pakistan-election.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

[31] South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP). Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan. Retrieved on: September 20, 2013. Retrieved from: http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/pakistan/terroristoutfits/ssp.htm