They are the modern-day Einsatzgruppen, the paramilitary SS death squads, who traveled in the wake of the German armies and killed so-called “undesirable” elements like Jews and Gypsies as well as partisans fighting against Nazi Germany.
Lashkar-e-Khorasan or “Army of Khorasan” is an Islamic State affiliate in Balochistan, where Khorasan represents parts of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
It is not so much an army, nor are they regents of large swathes of territory, but a gaggle of street thugs restricted to a barren area of southwest Pakistan, who kill in the name of religion just as the Nazis killed in the name of National Socialism.
Lashkar-e-Khorasan is part of a narco-terrorist network, fueled by the opium trade and operates with the tacit approval of the Pakistan government.
Historically, the motivation of the countless number of home-grown Pakistani Islamic terrorist groups has been the Sunni-Shia conflict, but recognizing the usefulness of proxies, the Pakistan government nurtured and deployed them to quell nationalist and ethnic unrest domestically, while incorporating them as an element of its foreign policy, particularly for attacks against India and Afghanistan.
Lashkar-e-Khorasan is not the only Islamic State affiliate operating in Balochistan, a list that includes Jundullah, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Almi and Jammat-ul-Ahrar, the last two having claimed responsibility for the October 24, 2016 attack on the Balochistan police training college in Quetta, killing 61 cadets and injuring more than 165 others.
The designated role of Lashkar-e-Khorasan in southwest Balochistan has been to kill members of the secular independence movement and cleanse Balochistan of Sufi Zikris, Shia Hazaras, Hindus, Christians, Ahahmadis, Sikhs or anyone else who refuses to convert to the extreme form of Sunni Islam.
But the web of relationships among the Pakistan government, Lashkar-e-Khorasan and drug trafficking is more complex.
The leader of Lashkar-e-Khorasan is Mullah Shahmir Bizenjo, resident of Turbat and son of Aziz Bizenjo, whose cousin is National Party President and Senator Hasil Bizenjo, currently Pakistan’s Minister for Ports and Shipping.
According to The Daily Beast, one of the drug world’s most notorious opium traffickers, also from Turbat, is Imam Bizenjo aka Imam Bheel, a National Party financier, whose son, Yaqoob Bizenjo, served as a member of the Pakistan National Assembly until 2013.
That region of southwest Pakistan is a major transit point for opium originating in Afghanistan reaching Gwadar and other ports on the Makran coast for worldwide distribution, all under the supervision of a relative of the Lashkar-e-Khorasan leader.
It should come as no surprise, then, to learn that Lashkar-e-Khorasan is well-funded and has the support of the Pakistan Frontier Corps, who have reportedly provided it operating bases and whose soldiers have acted as reinforcements for Lashkar-e-Khorasan when it has been under assault by Baloch secular nationalists.
It is counterproductive for the U.S. to continue to give Pakistan billions of dollars in aid, while it works against American interests in Afghanistan and supports murderous jihadi criminals within its own borders. It also makes no sense for the Central Intelligence Agency to fund directly Pakistani terrorist groups simply for pinprick attacks on Iran.
U.S. support for the secular Balochistan independence movement is a wiser alternative to help stop the spread of narco-terrorism and drive a non-Islamist wedge into a critical region of South Asia.
Iran has its own restive Baloch region. Ethnic separatism can be a potent lever against nations like Iran and Pakistan, who use Islamic terrorism as instruments of their domestic and international policies.
That is not even strategy. It is basic military tactics. Go for Iran’s and Pakistan’s right and left flank, respectively.
Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. is a retired colonel with 29 years of service in the US Army Reserve and a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq. Colonel Sellin is the author of “Restoring the Republic: Arguments for a Second American Revolution “. He receives email at firstname.lastname@example.org.