Did ISIS help plot the carnage? With suicide vests, Christians targeted on a religious holiday and a brutal contempt for civilian lives, the Sri Lankan bombings bear all the hallmarks of the terror group
Posted on April 21st, 2019

Courtesy Mail online

  • 207 people died, including five Britons, and 450 were injured in Sri Lankan blasts
  • 13 suspects were arrested but no nation or group has claimed responsibility
  • The attack bears the hallmarks of IS: explicitly targeting civilians, designed to cause maximum terror and bloodshed, and perpetrated on a Christian holiday 

By LARISSA BROWN, DEFENCE AND SECURITY EDITOR FOR THE DAILY MAIL

After living through a bloody civil war that dragged on for three decades, the people of Sri Lanka are no strangers to terror.

But the carnage that unfolded yesterday saw the country’s enemies take on new depths of depravity.

It had all the hallmarks of the barbaric Islamic State group – executed meticulously and without mercy.

Within minutes of yesterday’s blasts, MI5 was trying to establish if there were any British links to those who could be behind the plot. There were no immediate claims of responsibility, nor any established motive for the attack, although 13 suspects had been arrested by last night.

Early evidence pointed to the National Thowheed Jamaath (NTJ), a relatively unknown radical Islamist group said to have formed in Kattankudy, a Muslim-dominated town in eastern Sri Lanka, in 2014. 

Alex and Anita Nicholson photographed in London in 2015. Both were killed in the bomb blast in the Shangri-La hotel

Alex and Anita Nicholson photographed in London in 2015. Both were killed in the bomb blast in the Shangri-La hotel  

Last photo: Shantha Mayadunne (second left) and her daughter Nisanga (right) were among the victims of the Sri Lanka bomb attacks on Sunday. The family posted this picture of their Easter breakfast at the Shangri-La hotel just before the blast there

Last photo: Shantha Mayadunne (second left) and her daughter Nisanga (right) were among the victims of the Sri Lanka bomb attacks on Sunday. The family posted this picture of their Easter breakfast at the Shangri-La hotel just before the blast there

A map showing where the eight blasts went off today, six of them in very quick succession on Easter Sunday morning

A map showing where the eight blasts went off today, six of them in very quick succession on Easter Sunday morning  

ISIS militants marching in Raqqa, Syria, in 2014. This year the fundamentalists were driven from the last land they occupied but security experts have warned of 'pop up' terror cells

ISIS militants marching in Raqqa, Syria, in 2014. This year the fundamentalists were driven from the last land they occupied but security experts have warned of ‘pop up’ terror cells

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It has no history of mass fatality attacks.

In fact, its only mention appears to be last year when it was linked to the vandalism of Buddhist statues.

Sources in the Muslim community in Sri Lanka claim the group has publicly supported Islamic State. They also say that Zahran Hashim, named in reports as one of the bombers, was its founder.

Although intelligence files on the group are small, there is no doubt the warning signs were there.

On April 11, Sri Lankan police circulated a document entitled ‘Information of an alleged plan attack’ which said they had been warned by an unnamed foreign intelligence agency that the NTJ was plotting suicide attacks on churches in Colombo.

It added that intelligence pointed to any of the following methods: suicide attack, weapon attack or truck attack.

The original warning is most likely to have come from Australia – one of the ‘five eyes’ with a close intelligence-sharing relationship with Britain – that has kept watch on the rise of extremism in the region.

Documents show that Sri Lanka’s police chief Pujuth Jayasundara then issued an intelligence alert to top officers, specifically warning that suicide bombers planned to hit ‘prominent churches’.

Sri Lanka's defence ministry has now ordered curfew with immediate effect 'until further notice', and the Sri Lankan government said it had shut down access to social media messaging services, sources say

 Sri Lanka’s defence ministry has now ordered curfew with immediate effect ‘until further notice’, and the Sri Lankan government said it had shut down access to social media messaging services, sources say

Hospital staff push a trolley with a casualty after an explosion at a church in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka

Hospital staff push a trolley with a casualty after an explosion at a church in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka

A crime scene official inspects the site of a bomb blast inside a church in Negombo, Sri Lanka, which lost half its roof tiles with the force of the blast

A crime scene official inspects the site of a bomb blast inside a church in Negombo, Sri Lanka, which lost half its roof tiles with the force of the blast

Documents even named six individuals as likely suicide bombers, including Hashim. Yesterday, the seemingly far-fetched plan became frighteningly real.

Why the police did not sound the alarm earlier will remain a mystery. Prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe admitted that information about the attacks had been received in advance but denied having direct knowledge himself. ‘We must look into why adequate precautions were not taken. Neither I nor the ministers were kept informed,’ he said following intense anger in the community.

Whichever group was behind yesterday’s attack, it was most certainly inspired by the tactics used by IS. The suicide bombings explicitly targeted civilians, designed to create maximum terror for maximum effect – like the Manchester Arena bombings and the London Bridge attack.

They also chose iconic locations packed full of people, including many foreigners.

IS – which lost its final sliver of territory in Syria just weeks ago – also has a history of staging attacks against Christians on holy days, notably Christmas and Easter.

British military chiefs and ministers have long warned that the defeat of the terror group in the Middle East does not mean it has been vanquished.

They have referred to a ‘pop-up’ IS involving the group emerging elsewhere, often in states where they can exploit a vacuum. They have specifically warned of the rising threat from such diehard jihadis in south-east Asia.

IS fostered a brand which was so effective other terror groups wanted to be associated with it.

Some radicalised Muslims travelled from Sri Lanka to Syria to fight in that country’s civil war.

In 2016, the justice minister said 32 Sri Lankan Muslims from ‘well-educated and elite’ families had joined IS in Syria.

The recent loss of its last territory makes it even more likely that foreign fighters from countries such as Sri Lanka may now be returning home.

Terrorism expert Raffaello Pantucci says the demise of the group’s ‘caliphate’ could have persuaded extremists to stay in their countries and mount attacks there instead. ‘Think how big Islamic State’s footprint is,’ he said. ‘This means it has a reverse effect as well – their ideas are going out to a big pool of places.’

Sri Lankan military stand guard near the explosion site at a church in Batticaloa,with police tape keeping out bysanders

Sri Lankan military stand guard near the explosion site at a church in Batticaloa,with police tape keeping out bysanders

Security forces inspect the St. Anthony's Shrine after an explosion hit St Anthony's Church in Kochchikade in Colombo

Security forces inspect the St. Anthony’s Shrine after an explosion hit St Anthony’s Church in Kochchikade in Colombo

State minister of defence Ruwan Wijewardene said investigators have identified the culprits behind the 'terrorist' attacks (pictuerd: Shangri La hotel, Colombo)

State minister of defence Ruwan Wijewardene said investigators have identified the culprits behind the ‘terrorist’ attacks (pictuerd: Shangri La hotel, Colombo)

Yesterday’s bombings end a decade of relative peace in Sri Lanka following the end of its civil war in 2009. Terrorist bombings were common during the brutal 25-year struggle during which the Sri Lankan government fought Tamil separatism.

But despite the period of calm, much bitterness and grievance has remained in the country, riven by ethnic disputes.

Sri Lanka, which is mainly Buddhist, does not have a recent history of persecution of its Christian minority, which comprises 7 per cent of the population.

Yet its relations with others, including Hindus and Muslims, have not always been easy. Over the years there has been an increasing rise of discontent among Sri Lanka’s Muslim community, which make up 10 per cent of the population.

In November 1990, many were expelled from their homes in the north and have since been living as ‘displaced’ in the southern part of the country, under the patronage of the state.

Whatever the motives behind yesterday’s attack, there is little doubt that the brutal tactics used by Islamic State will continue to inspire others.

8 Responses to “Did ISIS help plot the carnage? With suicide vests, Christians targeted on a religious holiday and a brutal contempt for civilian lives, the Sri Lankan bombings bear all the hallmarks of the terror group”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    Going by the arrests this is homegrown terrorism.

    Unless totally eliminated quickly, Sri Lanka is in for another 26 years of war as with Tamil terrorists.

    Politicians must not use this disaster as campaign material. That will only worsen things for the nation.

  2. Ratanapala Says:

    Dilrook, It will be too simplistic to say this is homegrown terrorism with no outside connections. What happened should be understood in its totality and not minimized to insignificance as you suggest. Certainly, Jihad is a franchised weapon that can be made to look homegrown but in reality not and at least in the minimum funded from abroad.

    Sri Lanka must make a clean sweep of this menace – similar to what was done 10 years ago if necessary with international help who are similarly affected especially India.

  3. aloy Says:

    I have a feeling that this is a much deeper conspiracy that it appears. Even Rajitha S. in his address to the media today gave a hint that PM may have known the alert. Prez definitely was aware of this and he was sent to Tirupathy by Sumanthiran and the crowd that was seen behind him on the New Year celebrations.
    They all wanted the votes of some sections of our society in exchange for lives of Catholics and tourists who could be sacrificed. Or was there some thing else also in addition to the votes that may have been assured?.

    We cannot blame the police though they appear to have acted timidly. They always have to take orders from the top.

  4. Dilrook Says:

    @Ratanapala

    All terrorist groups are international. Muslim terrorists who carried out this attack include Indians, Pakistanis and Sri Lankans. Half the arrested suspects are Indians and Pakistanis.

    However, they have ample local followers, counterparts, support, abetters, ideological backers and logistics supporters. They ensure the continuity of terrorism.

    Sri Lanka is the perfect breeding ground of terrorism thanks to the minority-appeasing reconciliation model we follow. Tamil and Muslim terrorists are safest in Sri Lanka than anywhere else in the world. Soon Sri Lanka will be exporting Muslim terrorism unless they are decisively exterminated.

  5. Dilrook Says:

    As at now unconfirmed reports say 44 foreigners have been killed. Their countries are at the forefront of fighting Muslim terrorism. Even if Sri Lanka takes no action, they will.

    Until Sri Lanka exterminates all Muslim terrorists, our best tourist destinations will restrict their people from visiting Sri Lanka.

  6. Ancient Sinhalaya Says:

    Menace locally
    menace nationally
    menace internationally.
    The fast breeding religion of violence still using dirty, disgusting, sub human trick of multiply, multiply and out
    number the natives which the mussies used to turn old Buddhist iran, afganisthan, pakesthan, bangladesh,
    maldives, malaysia and indonesia. In the olden days, natives did not know until breeders came to their door and
    they had to submit the country to the mussies. In this tv, internet, fb etc. etc world, people come to know the
    disgusting, dirty, sub human trick and fight back to save their country.

    Nowadays, mussies resort to murdering unbelievers to get the country, once the breeders have bred enough. This
    is the crux of the matter. The same thing was tried in Buddhist Myanmar, and luckily they had a patriotic leader
    and the breeders had to flee to the hell hole bangladesh from where they came.

    Traitor chief die hard catholic token Buddhist bay gal karaya mega thief mega thakkadiya walking crime bomb
    (against Sinhalese Buddhists, Sri Lanka and Buddhism only) lajja nathi bxjja nathi aga matta Batalande
    wa(n)dakaya Pol Pot [email protected]_leech wickrama Sinhala killer must be rubbing its blood soaked hands (Sinhalese
    Buddhists blood only) with glee thinking it can postpone elections and die on the job like the catholic tigers of tamil
    drealam Sinhalese murdering campaign which traitor UNPatriotic_rats dragged on for 30 years to stay in
    power. But there is a problem for the traitor low life. Army, police etc etc know the true colours of these thieving,
    murderous (Sinhalese Buddhists only), lying, minority worshiping, Mother Lanka dismembering thieves and won’t
    support the UNPatriotic_rats. What’s more, the traitor thieves shot themselves in the foot by murdering tourist
    industry which fed the country during the last 10 years. No money, no honey traitor low lives, people don’t
    make the same mistake twice normally. They should hang these traitor lying, murderous thieves in Galle Face
    to teach a lesson for future traitor thieves starting with Pol Pot. Or seat them on a spike, again starting with the
    Pol Pot for destroying a beautiful country.

  7. Ancient Sinhalaya Says:

    Just like the die hard catholic token Buddhist Pol Pot’s catholic buddy barrel man hilter mala paharan’s catholic
    tigers of tamil drealam were nurtured by traitor tamil politicians from Tamil Nadu Alliance aka TNA, these terrorists
    were nurtured by bada udin, bada udin of old under Sirima B who started segregation by starting mussie only
    schools to hide real numbers of fast multiplying which are full to the rafters with multiplying mussie xxxx today,
    a sad ali (not enough children to be sad?), ass rough in the east (feel sorry for the helicopter crew), xxxxheem, kabir hashish etc etc. destroyed racial harmony in Sri Lanka. Majority Sinhalese, being Buddhists have been
    very tolerant to these traitor foreigner groups and this is the way the traitors paying back. Catholic tigers of
    tamil drealam took 100,000+, mainly Sinhalese lives. Now traitor anti Buddhists, anti Sri Lanka, anti Sinhalese
    UNPatrioitic_rats sacrifice another 100,000+ dragged this for 30 years to stay in power.

    For all the ills of Sri Lanka, all patriotic people will blame UNPatriotic_rats who divides native Sinhalese and make
    these minorities king makers and the natives pariahs in their own country. For all the people in Sri Lanka to live in
    harmony, they should wipe these traitors out of Sri Lanka political map for good and ban all race based parties
    like Tamil Nadu Alliance aka TNA and Sri Lanka Multiplying Community aka SLMC.

  8. Randeniyage Says:

    @Aloy
    I share your thought partially. Even if there was no conspiracy, the bottom line is the president was aware of this and he escaped to Thirumala.
    Ranil said openly he was not aware of it. Not sure whether Sirisena informed Sajth.
    But leave aside politics, the Government should have warned people on TV, Radio and all mass media on this threat if they had any concern for the welfare of people. Also they should have informed tourism to act ( just in case , as tourists also may visit Easter mass). This is the standard in any country !
    Sirisena is in charge of police minstry unlike last time and he escaped to Thirupathy and then to Singapore (to deposit cash ?). This is a criminal charge, but he appointed a committee with a big thief as the head of it. This guy is famous for siding with more powerful side.
    Also strange that Catholic ministers and opposition did not visit churches although John Naked said he went to church..

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