WHO CARRIED OUT THE EASTER BOMBINGS, AND WHY?
Posted on April 25th, 2019

DHARSHAN WEERASEKERA

, 22nd April 2019

A State Minister of Defence has said on the floor on Parliament that the ‘Easter Bombings’ of 21st April 2019 were in response to the Christchurch attacks against Muslims in New Zealand.  Meanwhile, almost simultaneously, it is reported in the internet that ISIS has claimed responsibility for the bombings.  For now, as a private citizen, I choose to remain skeptical of the Minister’s claims as well as the reports that ISIS is behind the bombings, for reasons I will explain in a moment.

What is crucial is that, the bombings not be permitted to become a pretext for the Government to join the U.S.’s ‘War on Terror.’  For the past four years, the U.S. and India (the U.S.’s new ally in Asia) have been busy trying to gain maximum indirect control over Sri Lanka in order to prevent the Chinese from establishing a presence in this country.  They would have succeeded had it not been for the collapse of the ‘National Government’ and the subsequent collapse of the drive to enact a new Constitution. 

It is also well-known that an attempt by the U.S. to push through a defence agreement with Sri Lanka, one that would give the U.S. privileged access to strategic parts of this country including its harbours is on hold, because of the lack of support.  Finally, most Sri Lankans are counting the days to the next Presidential and General elections.  It is expected that a pro-nationalist Government will take over and begin the process of returning control of the country back to its population.  

All this can be reversed if Sri Lanka signs on to the ‘War on Terror,’ which would give the U.S. a new lease to continue interfering in the internal affairs of this country.  Sri Lankan investigators must be given sufficient time to get to the bottom of who is responsible for the Easter Bombings.  In my view, investigators should look into whether the bombings were orchestrated by a foreign intelligence agency/agencies (i.e. the Indian and American intelligence services) using local or international Islamist terrorists.   

a)         THE MINISTER’S CLAIM THAT THE EASTER BOMBINGS WERE A RESPONSE TO THE CHRISTCHURCH ATTACK          

To the best of my knowledge the Christchurch attack happened on the 15th of March 2019.  The Easter Bombings in Sri Lanka happened on the 21st of April 2019.  Many people seem to agree that at least by 4th April 2019 and certainly by around 10th April 2019, one of more foreign intelligence agencies had warned of some sort of attack in Sri Lanka.  Most people agree that, in terms of scale and sophistication, the Easter Bombings have few if any parallels in the annals of terrorism. 

So, the Minister would have us believe that, barely two weeks after the attack in Christchurch New Zealand, an obscure group of fanatics in Sri Lanka—a group whose only significant act of violence prior to 21st April appears to have been to shoot the secretary to Kabir Hashim, the prominent UNP Parliamentarian![1]—managed to, a) acquire the specialized knowledge and skill to assemble suicide vests and/or backpacks, and also IED’s, b) acquire the requisite explosives for such devices, c) finalize the tactical plans including logistics and surveillance for an operation that would have made Pottu Amman proud, and d) coral together at least seven highly trained suicide bombers.  As an American might say, ‘You gotta be kidding me!’  

b) ISIS HAS PURPORTEDLY CLAIMED RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE BOMBINGS

There are reports that ISIS has claimed responsibility for the bombings.  There are also reports that videos showing the purported bombers pledging their allegiance to ISIS have been posted on ISIS websites.  However, I choose to remain skeptical until our own security services confirm the links, because of the following reasons. 

First, to the best of my knowledge, when ISIS and other international Islamist terrorists have carried out attacks outside the Middle East, it has been against countries that have troops actively fighting Muslims either in the Middle East or regions of the world that ISIS and others consider to be ‘Muslim lands.’  To my knowledge, Sri Lanka does not have troops fighting in such regions.

Second, certain experts on Islamic terrorism/jihadism—for instance persons such as the British journalist Robert Fisk, one of the few Western reporters ever to personally interview Osama Bin Laden—have said that the jihadists have a tendency to warn their adversaries before an attack, and also to offer terms.[2] 

Apparently, there is an injunction in the Koran that an adversary must be warned before being attacked. Whatever else the Islamist terrorists may or may not be, there is no question that they take the Koran seriously.  In the case of Sri Lanka there has been no warning, at least by the attackers.    

Finally, if killing Christians was the motive, then how does none explain the attacks on the hotels?  Three hotels were targeted—Kingsbury, Cinnamon Grand and Shangri La—which shows that at least one of the motives behind the attacks had to be to strike at Sri Lanka’s tourism industry. 

Tourism is one of the few means by which this country is still able to earn an income.  Whoever is behind these attacks wanted to deprive the country of that income also.  So, the attack is not purely against the Christians, it is against the country as a whole.  It is difficult to imagine what Sri Lanka could have done to ISIS or any other international Islamist terrorist group to make them hate this country to such an extent. 

c)         A FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE AGENCY/AGENCIES CARRIED OUT THE ATTACKS USING LOCAL ISLAMIST TERRORISTS/FANATICS

It is not in dispute that, the Siri-Wiki regime that came to power in January 2015 was a boon to the Americans and the Indians, especially the former.  In retrospect, the Siri-Wiki regime can be seen as a predictable offshoot of the ‘Pivot to Asia’ policy of the Americans begun under the Obama Administration and continued under President Trump. 

The purpose of the ‘Pivot’ is to consolidate American military as well as economic dominance over Asia.  It is accompanied by a military/naval strategy whose primary focus is to counter Chinese influence in the region and ultimately encircle China itself.[3]  Sri Lanka which sits at a strategically vital spot in the Indian Ocean is crucial for both the Americans as well as the Chinese, the former in order to further entrench their control over this region, the latter to break out of the ‘encirclement.’ 

The Siri-Wiki regime has now collapsed in Sri Lanka, and most people expect that any new Government that will take over will be heavily pro-nationalist as well as pro-Chinese.  In short, all the hopes that the Americans/Indians had in January 2015 are now in ruins, and the ‘gains’ they made in the last 4 years are very much in danger of being reversed. 

If we consider the Easter Bombings from the above perspective, it is impossible not to see that the bombings offer a wonderful opportunity for the Americans to continue to pursue in this country their goals in respect of the ‘Pivot.’

To digress a moment, if I am not mistaken, in Somalia, under the pretext of helping the Government there fight Al Shahab, the Americans have managed to gain various concessions that have allowed them to make Somalia a key station in AFRICOM, the new American military command for Africa.  AFRICOM began under the Bush Administration but was vastly expanded under the Obama Administration.  It is being further extended and consolidated under Trump. 

Len Wengraf, a respected American academic, discusses AFRICOM in its early years in the following terms, and they are highly relevant to Sri Lanka under the present circumstances.  He says:

‘The Obama Administration is also a strong proponent of AFRICOM, a new U.S. military command for Africa officially launched on October 1, 2008, with the frightening potential to subject Somalia and other countries and regions to U.S. terror on a new scale.  In fact, AFRICOM would mean the Somali experience writ large for the entire continent, with local proxies and enhanced military reinforcements. 

As Nunu Kadane put it in an article titled, ‘AFRICOM, Militarization and Resource Control’:

If you’re thinking traditional bases with thousands of military personnel, think again.  General Kip Ward has said it is not about bases” and garrisons” but rather a network of sophisticated military operations strategically placed throughout the continent, which can be moved around and utilized for any purpose.

General Gates called AFRICOM a different kind of command with a different kind of orientation, one that we hope and expect will institutionalize a lasting security relationship with Africa.”  It is a civilian-military partnership” where diplomatic and humanitarian relief by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will get directives from the Department of Defence.’[4]  

The point is this.  If under the pretext of helping to fight ISIS and other Islamist terrorists in Sri Lanka, the U.S. extends something like AFIRCOM to this country, we are finished.  So this is something that Sri Lankans will have to watch out for.  Also, to recall Somalia, if I am not mistaken, around 2006, the Americans, claiming that the Somalia had become a breeding ground for terrorists, got Ethiopia to invade and occupy Somalia. 

If Sri Lanka is portrayed as a breeding ground for Islamist terrorists who are not just a menace to this country but to others as well, particularly our big neighbor to the North, it is possible to envision a scenario where the Indians might be enticed into invading and occupying this country or at any rate setting up a puppet regime here, a regime directly answerable to New Delhi.  Such a thing would solve both the Indians’ as well as Americans’ problems in respect of the Chinese presence in Sri Lanka.  

To repeat, these are all opportunities that the Easter Bombings have created.  Under the circumstances, I hope our investigators look into the possibility that the Indian or American intelligence services had something to do with these attacks. 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

  1. Sri Lanka needs either a Presidential election or General Elections as soon as possible.  We must have a chance to choose the leaders who we think are capable of meeting this new threat.  Under no circumstances should the bombings or the security situation in the country be made an excuse for postponing elections.
  • If Sri Lanka is to seek foreign assistance to fight the Islamist terrorists, it is wiser to look to Russia than to the U.S.  Russia at least proved in Syria that it knows how to beat the Islamists.  In contrast, as a general rule, wherever the Americans have got involved they have only increased Islamist terrorism rather than diminished it.
  • In my view, the best long-term solution to the rise of Islamist terrorism as well as Tamil separatism/terrorism in this country is to resettle large numbers of Sinhalese people in the North and East of the country and thereby prevent the growth of ethnic enclaves which have tended to thrive especially over the last 30-40 years.  So, a practical plan to move, say, a minimum of 200,000 Sinhalese to the North and East over the next two years must be put together as soon as possible. 

[1] See ‘Kabir:  Suspect released by police due to powerful politician’s intervention carried out Easter attack,’ The Island, 23rd April 2019

[2] See for instance, ‘9/11 Remembered:  Robert Fisk’s Close Encounter with Osama Bin Laden,’ The Independent, 11th September 2018, www.independent.co.uk

[3] See John Pilger, ‘A World War Has Begun:  Break the Silence,’ www.counerpunch.org, 23rd March 2016

[4] Len Wengraf, ‘The Nightmare in Somalia,’ Counterpunch, 13th February 2009

One Response to “WHO CARRIED OUT THE EASTER BOMBINGS, AND WHY?”

  1. Randeniyage Says:

    My first suspicion was RAW, which I commented here in Lankaweb. Not sure whether it appeared or not becuase most my comments are deleted for no reason.
    However, we cannot rightly blame anyone, which we have an idiotic president, who was the root of every problem, from 2015 January cheating of public to win votes to current lies that he did not know. Whether he knew or not he MUST resign now.

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