Mapping terrorist groups openly operating inside Pakistan

Yesterday, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs took umbrage with President Trump’s speech where he called out Pakistan for harboring terrorist groups. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed that “Pakistan does not allow use of its territory against any country,” and denounced the so-called “false narrative of safe havens.”

Pakistan’s denial is laughable on its face. For decades, the country has permitted a number of jihadist groups to openly operate under its aegis. Many of these groups – such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harakat-ul-Muhahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Hizbul Mujahideen, and Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami – were created with the support of Pakistan’s military and the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate.

A map depicting the location some of these groups have known to operate from is embedded to illustrate the support Trump spoke about.

Pakistan helped create these groups with the idea that they would focus their activities against Indian forces in the state of Jammu and Kashmir to help bring down the country’s most critical enemy in India. Instead, these groups quickly became part of the South Asia jihadist network and allied themselves with the Taliban and al Qaeda. Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) was even formed at the behest of Osama bin Laden and Abdullah Azzam.

The Pakistani state has supported the Afghan Taliban since its founding. Without Pakistani support and safe haven, the Afghan Taliban would likely have a difficult time waging a successful insurgency in Afghanistan. The Afghan Taliban dinks and dunks across the border with ease, in and out of the tribal regions, where they plot, execute and then return to safety in Pakistan – where it also recruits, runs madrassas and training camps, and receives medical care for its wounded.

The Pakistani military and intelligence services support the Hafiz Gul Bahadar and the Mullah Nazir Groups, despite the fact that these two Taliban organizations wage jihad in Afghanistan and support al Qaeda and other terrorist movements.

While the Pakistan government has targeted and killed or captured key al Qaeda leaders inside Pakistan, the fact that Osama bin Laden was able to live in a large home just outside of Abbottabad, the nation’s West Point, and direct al Qaeda’s operations for years raises serious questions about what Pakistani military and intelligence leaders knew and if he received direct support.

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi began as an anti-Shia group and has joined the jihadist network. The Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi is a Taliban movement in northwestern Pakistan. Both have attacked the Pakistani state. Despite this, the Pakistani government has tolerated their existence.

This map does not include groups such as the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Islamic Jihad Union, the Turkistan Islamic Party, and others as these terrorist outfits wage war against these Pakistani state, and the Pakistan military has actively targeted them.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal. Alexandra Gutowski is a military affairs analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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  • James says:

    Bill, we should label Pakistan as being the Grand Central Station of global terrorism. For years now, I have been commenting on LWJ that we need to work more closely and as a team with India, particularly their intelligence services. Our friend over there ought to be India, much more so than Pakistan. We have a lot more in common with India than Pakistan. Maybe with Trump in there now this hope and vision of mine can be finally realized. This will go a long ways in suppressing the threat posed by global terrorism.

    As far as Pakistan is concerned, they need to get with the program. If anything, our working more closely with India just may impose a healthy jealousy and envy on their part.

  • Zeeshan Awan says:

    Dear sir, read ur story and thought that it would be informative but unfortunately it’s not. It’s an easy way to blame Pakistan for the defeat which Us forces faced in Afghanistan but it was not Pakistan’s fault but America’s as its three presidents fialed to form an anti terror policy for the war land. I am sure you would gather info for the story from different sources but sir i suggest you to change them as they are not providing you the correct information. Yes in the past Pakistan trained the militants but then US was also with Pakistan, now you should and i must say you must visit to Pakistan to witness withown your eyes that here are no place for terrorists now, peace is restored in Pakistan and people are having a normal life like country. We are peace loving people and we expect support from the peace lover’s in the US and world. Would be very grateful of you give a moment to read my response on ur story with open heart. Thank you.

  • Arjuna says:

    Pakistan is laughable on its face.
    Karachi needs an AQ designation.
    That’s where AQIS is based and that’s where news reports say the ISI is “safeguarding” Ayman Al Zawahiri and Hamza Bin Laden.

  • Azad Khan says:

    Pakistan is an economic Singapore for jehadist and radical islamic elements of the Arabic world, it offers cover under islamic sharia law, access and gateways to drug smuggling, human trafficking and gunrunning with the assistance of the local political establishment.
    These structures have been built and consolidated in last 25 years and Pakistan can no longer be viewed as an ally who will keep commitments to anybody, the only way out is to build a punitive sanctions regimen specifically structured for Pakistan based terrorism this may start a movement in its political class to bring Pakistan back into the comity of nations.
    For now Pakistan, Gulf States and China form a block which enable the jehadis.

  • Tomonthebeach says:

    Pakistan is not, nor has it ever been, a friend of the US. Let us not forget who was harboring Bin Laden & Co. They have been Muslim separatists from their bloody formation as an independent country – unwilling to live peacefully with their Hindu countrymen in India (Yes I know there is a muslim minority (14%) in India).

    The question I hope State and DOD is asking is whether or not it would be better if we declared Pakistan to be hostile to the US or continued to pretend they are allies, and keep sending nuclear extortion payments.

  • Nick Mastrovito says:

    Well said, Bill!

  • pre-Boomer Marine brat says:

    I sometimes have a momentary fantasy of seeing DAWN publish an article like this, but then I would also know that Hell is frozen solid. That newspaper brags about having been founded by Jinnah, but its news desk staff urinates upon his legacy daily, and so contributes to the sewer that nation is in. One of their columnists, Nadeem Paracha is very worthwhile, very savvy, but the rest ….? Paracha has written that the only thing Pakistan’s news media can do is “bleat”.

  • iyer says:

    more importantly, pakistan has continued to jail the doctor who assisted in locating OBL. Now go figure pakistani lies.

  • Angeleyes says:

    It is typical of Pakistanis to deny their active involvement and complicity in perpetuating extremism in the region; in undermining the great nation of India and in fomenting instability in Afghanistan. Moreover, Pakistanis seem to forget they harboured Osama bin laden and his good for nothing offspring.

  • Ahmad Arsala says:

    Mr. Awan repeats the old narrative of Pakistani establishment. “Yes in the past Pakistan trained the militants but then US was also with Pakistan,” Did the US came to Pakistan and stated , hey Pakistan round up and put together these Islamic fundamentalist extremists to fight the Soviet Union? The answer is NO.
    1- Pakistan has been established on the shoulders of Islamic extremism. If the Islamic extremism were not used, even if seculars wanted, they could not establish Pakistan convincingly.
    2- The secular- Whisky drinking – Oxford educated Bhutto used the extremist to come to power and signed some of the most extremists Islamic laws in the early 70’s.
    3-The Pakistani’s had already created and used Islamists such as Hekmatyar and Ahmad Shah Masoud against the President Daud in Afghanistan in the early 70’s.
    4- Pakistan sold the idea of use of the Islamic extremists as the group organized and capable of fighting the Soviet Union to the US, and conditioned accepting US support and involvement to the USE and Support of the Islamic extremists.
    Now claims like “US was with Pakistan” is like selling a defective refrigerator to someone and once the refrigerator does not work , blaming the purchaser , saying you used it.

  • BaconLover says:

    Pakistan is the HQ of global Islamist conflict entrepreneurs. The random lashkars are the entrepreneurs, while the Pakistan Army and the ISI are the Venture Capitalists. The seed funding is provided on display of some basic competence by killing local Shias, Baloch, Mohajirs (Urdu speaking muslims), some poor Christian or Hindu still left there, or just about anyone who is not convenient to the Pakistan Punjabi establishment. The IPOs are the terror spectaculars, such as the recent attacks in Uri, Mumbai, even 9/11. The exit strategy of the Venture capitalists is the Coalition Support Funds, IMF/World Bank Aid and grants, Visas and scholarships for relatives, free oil from Saudis in return for a (unfulfilled) promise of LeJ (anti Shia group) and Pakistani Army support, support from Chinese in return for a crack down on the Turkmen Islamist groups etc. The list goes on.

    Another objective the Islamist armies are used for is as mercenaries. Rented to the US for use against the USSR, and now these armies are being hawked to China and Russia for use against the US and coalition forces in Afghanistan. This is the ‘outsourcing’ model that brings in the dollars (or now the Remb) without the terror spectaculars/IPOs.

    But notice how even though there are regular successes in capture of killing of mid level functionaries but the ‘system’ of radicalisation , R&R, training and materiel support never ends. I lost count of the number of Al-Qaida ‘number threes’ caught by the Pakistanis and the rewards the Pak army proudly claimed. If the system ended, the rewards and the support and the importance the Pakistani elite attach to themselves would end too!

    What the United States and allies need to do is to shut down this model of enrichment for Pakistani elite and put the onus of rolling up this terror HQ squarely on the Pakistani Army. That is what any civilized country would do on its own land. Why should the Pakistanis be paid to solve the problems they themselves create? Why indeed should there be vast mercenary armies for hire to be rented out to the highest bidder against this country or that?

    Whether one supports Trump’s style and politics, calling out Pakistan as a problem state is the plain truth and long over due.

  • Ahmad Arsala says:

    Right on!

  • Azad Khan says:

    You are right- this is an industry in Pakistan, how does one shut down an industry when so many are making a living from it ?

  • The entire narrative is incorrect, complete disinformation and an attempt to malign Pakistan. The US has lost many wars in six decades. Let us keep Afghanistan on a side for the time being. Tell us why the US lost wars in Vietnam, Korea, Iraq and Syria? Why the US Ambassador was blown up along with Pakistani Generals who fought the US proxy war in Afghanistan?

  • Jaque Bauer says:

    China is now Pakistans friend. Russia is arming the Taliban. Afghanistan is an endless pit of corruption that only a dictatorship can fix. Just a Sadamm held Iraq together strong man is needed as the Afghan leader. Democracies don’t work in tribal lands. Only a big sword and big stick are understood by the people. Trump lied once again to the voters who trusted him. He said he would get us out.

  • Jiggs says:

    The Taliban was first created in the 70s by Zulifkar Bhutto as the Afghans started questioNing the Durrand Line. Then we all know what happened.
    As an Indian I repeat it the umpteenth time that the Global Headquarters for terrorism is General Head Quarters, Rawalpindi, Pakistan.
    Till the time the world refuses to accept this Pakistan will continue to train terrorists.

  • Elham Anwari says:

    The Pakistanis here defending their government and its ISI, the jig is up! Everyone can see that the emperor has no clothes.


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