Lashkar-e-Jhangvi splitting into eight cells

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is Pakistan-based terror outfit with strong links to Qaeda.

Islamabad: Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), the Pakistan-based terror outfit with strong links to al Qaeda, is in the process of splitting into at least eight small cells for better coordination from Karachi to Waziristan, a media report said.

"Each sub-group is responsible for carrying out activities in a specific geographic location," The Express Tribune quoted a source as saying.

Individuals having connections within the group and intelligence officials tackling them said the move appeared to be an attempt to outsmart Pakistani`s overworked law enforcement agencies.

"It looks like they (LeJ strategists) don`t want to put all their eggs in one basket," explained an intelligence official.

"It`s a typical guerrilla warfare and urban militancy technique. With scattered cells, they have better chances of survival by diverting the focus of law enforcement agencies," added the official.

The LeJ -- an anti-Shia terror group dominated by militants from Punjab province -- has set up safe hideouts in North Waziristan, an area controlled by the network of veteran Afghan jehadi, Jalaluddin Haqqani.

While there are hardly any significant signs suggesting that the Haqqani network is directly supporting the anti-Pakistan LeJ activists, officials contend the two groups have one strong commonality -- both take pride for being staunch allies of al Qaeda.

The LeJ`s cell for Karachi and Balochistan has been named "Jundullah" but it operates separately from an existing organisation of the same name, led by separatist Iranian Sunnis.

"That`s where intelligence personnel are often mistaken. They sometimes confuse activists from one group with the other," an official in the Sindh province`s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) said.

The LeJ is the biggest group operating in Karachi. Of the 246 terrorists arrested from the city since 2001, 94 belonged to it, according to a report by the CID.

Several small cells operate under the outfit -- Punjabi Taliban -- including those belonging to Usman Punjabi, Qari Imran, Amjad Farooqi and Qari Zafar. These cells generally target Punjab.