EASTER SUNDAY BOMB BLAST IN SRI LANKA Part 1
Posted on April 28th, 2019

KAMALIKA PIERIS

Revised 3.5.19, 12.5.19

On Easter Sunday, April 21 2019 there were consecutive bomb blasts in two Roman Catholic churches, one Evangelist church, and three five star hotels. The churches were St. Anthony’s, Kochchikade, Colombo, St Sebastian’s,   Katuwapitiya, Negombo and Zion Church, Batticaloa. The blasts took place around 8.45 am. The first blast was reported at St Anthony’s, followed by a second at St Sebastian’s. The roof of St Anthony’s had been blown almost entirely off. At St Sebastian’s, buildings in the area shook with the blast. 

There was a third Catholic Church on the list, St. Mary’s, Batticaloa.  However, a priest had seen the suicide bomber lurking around the St Mary’s complex the previous day. The Easter service was advanced to 7 am instead of 7.30 and by the time the suicide bomber arrived, the mass had ended and the congregation had left. When the bomber found that most of the congregation had left, he had made his way to the evangelist Zion Church, about 50 meters down the road.

An alert churchgoer, seeing the bomber’s back pack had detained him. The bomber claimed his backpack held a video camera and he had come to film worshippers. It was not a convincing explanation. He was asked to leave. Barred from entering the church, the bomber detonated the bomb outside. Catholic and Protestant  churches cut short their Easter services and sent the congregation home, when the news of the bomb blasts reached them.

It later emerged  later that a fourth church had been targeted, St. Theresa Church, Kilinochchi.  Parish priest of St. Theresa Rev Father A.J Jesudasan said that a person, arrested in connection with the bomb attacks, had revealed the decision to attack St Theresa Church. It was also felt that the real target at Negombo would have been St Mary’s Negombo, it was  the biggest church there.

Bombs also went off at three hotels In Colombo, Kingsbury, Shangri La and Cinnamon Grand, The blasts took place in the restaurants that were serving Easter Sunday breakfast. Cinnamon Grand was hit sometime after   8.30. Kingsbury and Shangri-La were hit at   9 am approximately. The blast had been felt on the 17th floor at Shangri La. The bombers had checked into the hotels the night before.

A fourth hotel, Taj Samudra was also on the list, but the suicide bomber failed to carry out his task. His handler, not wanting to waste the bomb, had thereafter instructed him to go to Dehiwala and explode the bomb at St Mary’s Dehiwela, but security was too tight there.

There were seven suicide bombers.  All   were Sri Lankan citizens  and all were Muslim. They operated singly, except for Shangri-La where there were two. The extensive damage caused to the buildings indicated that military-grade high explosives were used. The explosive used, triacetone triperoxide dubbed ‘Mother of Satan’ was made in a copper factory in Wellampitiya owned by Inshaf Ahamad, who died bombing Cinnamon Grand. The death toll was 290 with 500 injured.

The horrified public, glued to the television, nevertheless found the whole thing somewhat staged. There was visible uniformity, right down to the identical jeans, baseball cap, the backpack and even the way of walking. At Katuwapitiya the bomber stayed well within the range of the CCTV cameras.  He pats a child on his way into the church. How easily, casually and confidently, as shown on CCTV, the suicide bombers who blasted the church in Negombo and the two hotels walked with explosives in backpacks”, commented Cassandra.

Experts have flatly dismissed the notion that this was a home grown attack. The first efforts of small, homegrown extremist groups are usually marked by failure. Some of the bombs fail to detonate entirely. Others explode early or late, and still others cause smaller blasts than their builders intended. But in this case, all seven bombs had detonated accurately.  The attackers were unusually successful, especially for a group with no track record of large-scale assaults. This shows that the group has received support from a global terror network, experts   said.

This was a very well coordinated sophisticated attack said experts. It was meticulously planned and executed within just 20 minutes. There would have been months of planning, possibly years, with foreign agents arriving in Sri Lanka to advice on the execution.

 Yahapalana has pinned the blame for the attack on   a radical Islamist group called the National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ). Until now, National Thowheed Jama’ath was known mainly  for vandalizing Buddhist statues in Mawanella in December 2018. The NTJ was formed in Kattankudy, in 2014. It is a splinter group of the hard-line Islamist group, the Sri Lanka Thowheed Jamath (SLTJ).  Its founder Zahran Hashim is believed to have been the suicide bomber who targeted Shangri-La Hotel.

NTJ is a tiny organization with few hundred followers, said analysts. it consists almost entirely of young people, especially recent graduates of Islamic schools. The group   has no hierarchy or organizational structure and no older leaders. 

Terrorism experts are definite that NTJ does not have the capability to plan, train and execute the Easter Sunday attacks. Such coordinated suicide attacks,   at several places, at the same time with such powerful explosives were beyond them.  Procuring explosives, getting  them into the country, assembling them, training persons  to handle such explosives, planning the logistics and execution  of the task are beyond the capability of this tiny outfit, they said.

Such an extensively planned and coordinated attack would almost certainly have required considerable financing as well as expertise from an experienced group overseas. The brilliant execution of these bomb blasts clearly indicated a foreign hand. There is an international force behind this, experts said. A foreign entity, most likely a foreign state or state intelligence agency was behind the attacks. The locals are merely pawns.

Given the level of sophistication, this was probably the work of al-Qaeda or Islamic State, announced analysts.  Sure enough, two days later, ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) claimed responsibility for the killings but without providing any evidence. ISIS only released a photograph which claimed to show the seven suicide bombers.  Expect for Zaharan Hashim, the faces of the others are completely covered. The photo generated no interest, and the ISIS argument was immediately dismissed.  ISIS only carries out attacks against countries that are fighting Muslims. That is not the case in Sri Lanka, said  the public.

Analysts think otherwise .The sophistication of the synchronized blasts in Sri Lanka, are indicative of a much more sinister design by the ISIS. The extent of planning and calculation that went into planting the right amount of explosives so as to inflict the kind of damage that was done, plus the level of sophistication in the use of detonators and fuses, as well as the extent of radicalization, should clear all doubts over whether or not the Islamic State has spread its wings to South Asia.

The group has long been specifically looking at recruiting young engineers, computer professionals and other qualified individuals so as not to go wrong in either planning or execution of attacks. The group has done away with any form of satellite communication to avoid being tracked. What is now a cause for concern is the pattern of lethal, coordinated explosive vector attacks, which can’t be traced.

Yahapalana government  however, offered three separate causes for the attacks. JVP said the bomb attacks were to create a Muslim state in Sri Lanka. State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardene said that ‘preliminary investigations have revealed that what happened in Sri Lanka was in retaliation for the attack against Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand. That cannot be, replied critics. These bombings would have been planned months or years ahead.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe said the attacks were a part of global terrorism. Global terrorism had now come to Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka too is now in the global terrorist incidents map thanks to those who unleashed terror on Easter Sunday, he said in Parliament.

But the public do not think it is ISIS, Christchurch or global terrorism. They think it is the CIA, the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States of America. The possibility of CIA is hinted at by the analysts. They said,” A foreign entity, most likely a foreign state or state intelligence agency was behind the attacks.”

CIA knows about bombs. In 1999 CIA admitted to bombing the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. They said it was an accident. They were going to bomb elsewhere. It is thought that CIA was responsible for the 2002 Bali bombings and the 2009 bomb blasts at Ritz-Carlton and the Marriott hotels In Jakarta in 2009. It is also important to note that ISIS, which says it is responsible for the bomb blasts, was created by United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, so was al Qaeda. So there is a USA link there too.

Many said that the moment they heard of the bomb blasts, the first thing that came to mind was this is CIA”. The name was mentioned on television news on the 21st itself. (Derana 6.55 news. 21.4.19). This is not the first time that CIA has been suspected in Sri Lanka., L.H.Mettananda, who had access to political information,   had said in a private conversation that SWRD Bandaranaike’s assassination in the 1960s was done by the CIA. In the 1970s The JVP was considered a CIA organization.

The public are angry about the bomb blasts. This has put the USA temporarily on the defensive in Sri Lanka. The US Navy and the Sri Lanka Navy to called off their CARAT military exercise at Hambantota port. After the NTJ attacks, foreign governments were certain to review joint exercises conducted in Sri Lanka territory.

The US ambassador has had to face interviews and questions. She is the only ambassador to be interviewed and questioned. The US ambassador, questioned by Amanpour, denied the United States had prior knowledge of the Easter Sunday attacks.”We had no prior knowledge of these attacks,” US ambassador Alaina Teplitz told the CNN in an interview.

US ambassador said expert teams from the FBI and the US Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) are helping with the bomb investigations. This was at the request of the Sri Lankan government. These teams are working side by side with Sri Lankan officials. This cooperation is short-term, temporary, and specific to the recent attacks and bringing the perpetrators to justice, said the US embassy in a statement.

However, USA is a prominent force in Sri Lanka today. The Yahapalana government is a creation of the USA.  At the Parliamentary debate on the bomb blasts, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe emphasized that US President, Donald Trump had phoned and offered assistance. Mike Pompeo US Secretary of state had also phoned. The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) of the US Government has given  Yahapalana government a grant of USD 480 million for land related projects.  (Continued)

One Response to “EASTER SUNDAY BOMB BLAST IN SRI LANKA Part 1”

  1. Christie Says:

    The dead locals are Sinhalese Christians and Muslims both religions Hinduthwa wants out of India and its neighbors.
    India knew the locations and even the names of the bombers and they had a local group in South India of the same names.
    It is Tirupati that spared the Taj hotel? I am sure Sirisena prayed for it!
    Taj is frequented by our king makers and kings like Chandrika, Atul Keshap of the days gone by; local Indians and Indian from overseas.
    Taj is part of TATA and our tea is next on the line with Tetley’s.
    India is good at covert operations; Jeppos and Tamil Tigers both killed Sinhalese.

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