October 7, 2004: Car bomber targets Sunni rally in Pakistan

On October 7, 2004 a remote-controlled car bomb targeting Sunni Muslims exploded in the Pakistani city of Multan, killing at least 40 people and wounding more than 100

MULTAN, PAKISTAN – Sunnis have been killing Shias for centuries; sometimes the underdogs get the upper hand.

The Sunni-Shia divide in Islam goes back to the very origins of the faith in the 7th century. Disagreements over the succession to the Prophet Muhammad led eventually to what amounts to a civil war and centuries of assassinations of Shia leaders by Sunnis, who are a larger part of world Islam by a 90-10 ratio (Iran and Iraq are exceptions where Shias overtake Sunnis).

In this Islam is not really very different than other faiths. Christianity was for the better part of its history beset with doctrinal differences that at their worst engendered vast wars. Anyone remember the Crusades?

We are doing GOD’S work here! (Photo: By David Aubert (1449-79) – 15th century miniature)

Getting back to Islam, the vast majority of Islamist terrorists are Sunnis. And while their victims span a wide swathe of humanity, they have a particular animus for the Shia, whom they call the ‘rafidain’ (the ‘rejectors’). Many, many innocent Shia have been killed by Sunni terrorists over the years.

Sometimes, though, the Shia strike back.

On this day in 2004

A remote-controlled car bomb targeting Sunni Muslim radicals exploded in the central Pakistani city of Multan, killing at least 40 people and wounding more than 100. The attack occurred during a rally commemorating the assassinated militant religious leader Azam Tariq, head of the outlawed Sipah-e-Sahaba (Soldiers of Mohammad’s Companions).

It was dark and people were screaming for help. It was utter chaos.


While the head of a Shia organisation denied responsibility, thousands of Sunni Muslims attending the rally gave little credence to these words, shouting “Infidels, infidels, Shia infidels!” As a matter of fact, hundreds died in violence between majority Sunnis and Shi’ites in Pakistan in the early 2000s.

And so those who worship the same deity continue to kill each other, in defiance of what their faith calls upon them to do. Go figure.

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By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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