Sri Lanka attacks were planned locally and not directly guided by ISIS: Report
Posted on May 6th, 2019

Despite claiming responsibility for the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka, the Islamic State did not directly organize the deadly terror attacks.

It was a locally led attack. It uses the ideology of ISIS to get the credit for ISIS so it has a success story,” Lt. Gen. Mahesh Senanayake, commander of the Sri Lanka army, told the Wall Street Journal.

All nine of those who detonated bombs across the island nation on Easter have been identifiedand belong to two local terrorist groups. Those involved reportedly planned and executed the attacks by studying ISIS designs for explosives on the internet and by testing those designs out before the six suicide bombings that killed more than 250 people.

One of the bombers, the son of a wealthy Sri Lankan spice trader, appears to have used his means to independently finance and coordinate the attacks, which took a year to plan and execute. During the test runs for the explosives, one of the plotters blew off some of his fingers and lost his eye.

Related: Pence calls Sri Lanka bombings on Easter ‘an attack on Christianity’]

The conclusions, which are still tentative, are drawn from investigators poring over evidence gathered from the terrorists’ computers and possessions in addition to interrogations of arrested people associated with the bombers with knowledge of the plot. While some of those who participated in meetings about the bombings remain at large, Senanayake said about three-quarters of those involved are either dead or in federal custody.

Sri Lankan officials said the interrogations appeared to show that the timing of the attacks and the targets were aimed at boosting ISIS’ global image while territorial control of ISIS’ self-described caliphate continued to collapse.

A few of those involved did have some connections to ISIS, though. One of the eight men who bombed the hotels and churches was reportedly radicalized while studying in Australia and made ISIS contacts while there. Another one of the bombers claimed that ISIS had put him in charge of the group in Sri Lanka, but there is uncertainty of the veracity of that assertion, and authorities believe he falsely claimed to the others to be receiving instructions from ISIS in Syria.

As part of the attack, the bombers used washing-machine timers as mechanisms to set off explosives. They reportedly tested out the design on a motorcycle just days before Easter Sunday and planted one of the timed bombs in a car parked outside one of the churches that was attacked in an effort to kill survivors and authorities after the suicide bomb exploded. That timed charge did not detonate, though.

Following the attacks, ISIS leader Abū Bakr al-Baghdadi appeared in the first video footage of him in over five years. In the clip, Baghdadi praised the attacks in Sri Lanka. In an audio portion of the video, Baghdadi said the attacks were revenge for the territorial losses it has suffered.

Sri Lanka is still under a state of emergency, and as public schools begin to reopen Monday, Catholic schools across the country remain closed.

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