From the Den of the Mastermind

April 25th, 2019

By Hafeel Farisz in Kattankudy Courtesy The Daily Mirror

The entire family, 2 brothers, a sister and the parents of Zahran Hashim the suspected mastermind of the Easter Sunday massacre have been missing since April 18, 2019, his sister Mohomed Hashim Madaniya aged 25 told the Daily Mirror exclusively.

I went and gave food to my parents and my sisters family on April 18, and haven’t heard from them since” she told us, at her house in Kattankudy located around the mosque of National Thawheed Jamath in Kattankudy.

Providing exclusive access and details of a chilling tail of radicalization of which the sister insists she had been against, and members of the mosque completely dissociating themself with, the Daily Mirror was told that Hashim was a gifted orator and a loving family man until his sudden disappearance”

The family included five children with Zahran Hashim being the oldest (33) he is married to Mohomed Haadiya (23) a resident of Kekenuwella, Kurunegala and is the father of two children aged a boy aged eight and a girl aged four.

His brother Mohomed Zeyin Hashim (30) is married to Abdul Gafoor Afrin (23) and has two children a boy aged 5 and a girl aged 3. The third was Mohomed Rilwan Hashim (28) Nafha (20) and is the father of two children aged 5 years and the other a six month old boy.

The remaining sister Mohomed Yaseera Hashim (20) was married to Mohomed Rishad (22) and is the mother of a boy aged one year, all of whom have left without a trace.

I don’t know where they are. From the 18th onwards I have had no contact with them” she told us.

Accordingly all the family members including the parents of Zahran, Hayath Mohomed Hashim (55) and Abdul Cader Sameema ( 50) have left no trace of their whereabouts since April 18th.

It was early 2017 when he started preaching things that we thought were out of line. They were things like the world was made for Muslims and was against other religions” she said.

My husband didn’t like what he was saying so we stopped our connections with him. That didn’t mean we were angry, its just that we stopped following him” the mother of three said.

On March 10, 2017 following an armed fight between moderate Sufi groups and those following the new mosque and denomination propagated by Zahran, he had reportedly gone missing”.

we didn’t hear from him after. He together with his brother Rilwan completely lost contact with all of us” Moulavi Thawufeek (33) the Head of the National Thawheed Jamath told Daily Mirror.

The National Thawheed Jamath was a denomination originated by Zahran in or around 2011.

Katankudy a small area of land with one of the highest density of population comprises 63 mosques. 8 of the mosques follow the Fundamentalist strand openly and the other barring 3 mosques follow different degrees of wahabist ideology” H. M Ameer from the Badriya Mosque told the Daily Mirror. The Jammiyathul Ulama are also supporters of the Wahabi ideology” he and Jaseem told the Daily Mirror.

The incident culminating in violence on March 10, 2017 was a result of rift between the Badriya Mosque followers of the Sufi Ideology and the religious strand that Hashim propogated.

There was a meeting to be held at the Aliya Junction at which Zahran was to speak when the violence broke out” both parties said, after which differing accounts were narrated as to what took place.

Nine persons from Zahran’s, National Thawheed Jamath were arrested by the Police and Two from the Badriya Mosque. The arrests included Zahran’s brother Zeyin. The suspects had been remanded for over 7 months according to one of the suspects Mohomed Rifaz (32).

Speaking to the Daily Mirror at the two storied mosque of which one storey is yet to be completed, Rifaz said Zahran went missing” after the Police came after him.

We didn’t know of his whereabouts till he started posting videos on Facebook around June 2017” the Daily Mirror were told by the members of the NTJ. We completely disassociated ourselves from him after we saw his videos” they told us after which they showed the Daily Mirror a letter which had been issued by the Mosque expelling Zahran from the mosque.

The fact that the Mosque was a small non sophisticated one with no approval nor accounting books issuing a letter of expulsion” could not be lost.

That is a complete lie. We have information that he visited the mosque around six weeks ago,” Ameer from the Badriya mosque insisted. We had informed authorities of him starting in 2012. We in fact gave dockets to 11 authorities including the Secretary of Defence, the Inspector General and the Attorney General detailing the extremism carried out by Zahran and his ideology,” Ameer told the Daily Mirror. They all fell on deaf ears,” Mohomed Jaseem a trustee said.

Ameer and Jaseem both showed the Daily Mirror the docket which they provided to the authorities on March 27, 2017. The docket details the hatred espoused by Zahran, and contradicts the version of the NTJ that the radicalisation took place after he fled from the police.

The complaint includes preachings by Zahran to the effect that Islam should be the only religion in the island,and that Muslims should not pledge allegiance to the country.

” We gave this to the authorities in black and white. We told them that these guys were preaching some crazy radicalised fundamentalism and that there is a threat to our lives. We did this from as far back as 2012″  Jaseem told the Daily Mirror.

According to those at the National Thawheed Jamath mosque, Zahran had single handedly originated a new denomination and built a mosque through donations given by those attending Jumma prayers” an account rubbished by Ameer.

They opened a new mosque because they got funds from foreign entities. They couldn’t be with the other fundamentalists because the money wasn’t coming in,” Jaseem told us.

The members of the NTJ however,  insist that up until his fleeing from the Police following the clashes on March 10, 2017 Zahran was a peaceful preacher.

We did a lot of charity work and we followed Islam how it should be,” they told us adding that it was following his postings in June 2017 that they realized Zahran had deviated from their path. However, according to the sister Madaniya his radical preaching commenced before.

He had just stared to preach things against the Government, against courts, and against other religions. He may have had 2 to 3 sermons like that when the clash took place in March,” she told us, refuting the underground radicalization” claim of the NTJ members.

Zahran had preached from time to time during the Five years commencing 2012 to 2017 at various junctions”. By all accounts he was a preacher who could hold a crowd. Around 2000 to 3000 people participated at his public sermons although they didn’t go to his mosque,” we were told.

I met Zeyin and his Family last around February,” Madaniya told the Daily Mirror. She claims to have had no contact with Rilwan who had also fled together with his brother Zahran following the clashes of March 10, 2017.

Intelligence sources claim that Zahran may not have been one of the bombers as they scramble to make distinct identification of them. Zahran and his family accordingly may still be at large.

I fear for my safety. We live under a lot of tension,” Madaniya said. Its unbearable to know what has happened. I don’t want to have anything to do with him and hope he is dead,” she told the Daily Mirror.

When asked as to what she believes is the reason her immediate family have been untraceable she said she assumed the worst.

They must have joined him. They never spoke to me about him because they knew my husband didn’t like him. I am the only one who has to take on all of this blame and suffering now. I don’t want to have anything to do with any of them,” she said after being asked of the alternative of the family being alive.

Moulavi Thawufeek insisted that the actions have got nothing to do with religion”. These are despicable acts and have got nothing to do with religon” he said after quoting the Quranic verse stating that the killing of a single man meant the killing of humanity”.

Thawufeek who succeeded Zahran had known the suspected mastermind since 2002. I knew him from the time he was reading at the Al- Falah Madrasa. He couldn’t complete his studies and had to leave in 2007”.

Thawufeek together with the rest present in the mosque insisted that they had not watched the vidoes of Hashim following the realization of his radicalization.

Yes he was an ISIS sympathizer and we were told of it by people. But we didn’t watch his videos” they said.

According to Moulavi Thawfueek, Intelligence Agencies were fully aware of Zahran and his preaching.

” During the past two years they used to visit the mosque at least once a week if not more. They were here a few weeks ago too” he said, sentiments concurred by the rest of the gathering.

When asked as to if he had followers of his doctrine amongst them, he said that they could not be certain.

What you have in your heart only you would know. Even if people were supporters of ISIS they wouldn’t come out openly and tell us,” he said.

Carrying her 10 month old son, Madaniya said she fears for her safety, sentiments echoed by the members of the NTJ too.

” Im the only one from the family and its alot of heartbreak and suffering” she said.

Moulavi Thawufeek also insisted that they remained fearful.

” The forces walk in and out every other day and we might not be able to practice our religion. We are fearful that this mosque we built with so much hardship will be brought down. We are also living under a lot of tension and we want our side of the story told” he said.

Ameer and Jaseem of the Badriya mosque were also fearful of theirs.

We were the only people who stood up against this fundamentalist and we fear for our lives. They will come after us” they said.

WHO CARRIED OUT THE EASTER BOMBINGS, AND WHY?

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

Sri Lanka attacks: Who are The National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ)?

April 25th, 2019

Sri Lanka News

A previously little-known group called the National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ) is being accused of having carried out the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankan officials pinned the blame on the NTJ at a news conference on Monday.

Until Monday, when the Sri Lankan government spokesman mentioned its name, very few people had heard of the NTJ.

The group is believed to have splintered off from another hardline Islamist group in the country, the Sri Lanka Thowheed Jamath (SLTJ).

While still relatively unknown, the SLTJ is a bit more established. Its secretary, Abdul Razik, was arrested in 2016 for inciting hatred against Buddhists. He later issued an apology.

මුස්ලිම් නීතිඥවරයෙක් විශ්වකර්ම සමග කල ආන්දෝලනාත්මක හෙළිදරව්ව | Interview with a Muslim lawyer

April 25th, 2019

Vishwa Karma exclusive interview with a Muslim lawyer.

Easter Day attacks are a plan of powerful nations – Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith (English)

April 25th, 2019

Ada Derana news

Archbishop of Sri Lanka Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith has urged not to hold services at Catholic churches until further notice.

The Cardinal stated this during a press conference held today (24) following a discussion with the ambassadors of Muslim-majority countries in Sri Lanka.

He has also urged to work with peace considering the situation prevailing in the country.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith said that all parties should ensure that the Muslim community is not being harassed at this moment.

Stop foreign forces entering the country: Dinesh

April 25th, 2019

Ajith Siriwardana and Yohan Perera Courtesy The Daily Mirror

Opposition MP Dinesh Gunawardane yesterday told the government that it should not by any circumstance allow foreign security forces to enter this country at this moment.

He also urged the government to conduct an investigation into the issuance of Visas to thousands of foreigners under lax conditions.

He told parliament that investigations into the matter should be carried out immediately and said it was pointless asking the IGP to do so.

MP Gunawardane said the government failed to act on information given by the intelligent services and added that it could not get away from the responsibility by claiming that it was not aware of such an attack.

“Information was there on extremist groups since 2016. The Government was well aware of it. It cannot get away saying that it was not aware,” he said.

He said if the government could not defeat this extremist terrorist groups, it should quit and hand over this country to someone who could do it.

He said the country could not be governed when there was a crisis between the President and the Prime Minister and stressed the need to pay way for a new government. (

600 deported Pakistanis escorted to community center

April 25th, 2019

Six hundred Pakistanis, who had been living within the Negombo Police Division owing to deportation from Pakistan, have been taken into the Ahmadiyya Community Center in Nittambuwa, stated Ada Derana reporter.

Reportedly, the relevant Pakistan nationals had been deported from Pakistan due to the war situation in Pakistan via the United Nations.

However, the owners of the houses they had been temporarily living in, had asked them to leave the house owing to the recent Easter Day attacks, stated Ada Derana reporter.

Accordingly, upon a complaint received by the Negombo Police regarding the safety of the deported Pakistanis, they have been escorted to the Community Center.

Ada Derana reporter further stated that funds have been received from the United Nations and the Pakistan government for the support of these deported Pakistanis.

CCTV footages of suicide bombers at Shangri-La & Cinnamon Grand

April 25th, 2019

Courtesy Adaderana

The CCTV footages of the suicide bomb attacks on Cinnamon Grand hotel in Colombo have been released to the media.

The suicide bomber arrives at the Taprobane restaurant of the hotel at 9.12 a.m. when it was filled with guests having breakfast.

The bomber appears to be nervously hovering near the diners prior to detonating the vest.

Meanwhile, the CCTV footages of two suicide bombers arriving at the Shangri-La hotel in Colombo has also been released to the media.

They enter the hotel’s elevator and get off at the third floor of the building to enter the restaurant, where they detonated the bombs.

Zahran Hashmi, considered to be the mastermind of the series of suicide bomb attacks was captured in this footage.

The death toll of these terror attacks have increased to 359 as of yesterday (24), and 39 foreign tourists are among the dead.

The Phenomenon of Suicide Bombing

April 24th, 2019

Ruwan M Jayatunge M.D.

On Easter Sunday Sri Lanka suffered suicide bombers attacks which resulted over 300 deaths. At least 45 children were among those that perished. The Isis has claimed responsibility for these suicide bombings. Thesesuicide bombings are the results of religious fundamentalism. 

Suicide terrorism is not a modern phenomenon.  Suicide attack is an ancient practice with a modern history. The threat of suicide bombing attacks has escalated worldwide (Almogy et al., 2004).

As described by Horowitz (2015) a suicide bombing is an attack where the death of the bomber is the means by which the attack is accomplished. Suicide bomber could be defined as an individual carrying high explosive device, attached to his/her body and must be recognized as a separate medicolegal entity (Ruwanpura et al., 2008).

Martyrdom operations are the targeted use of self-destructing humans against noncombatant typically civilian populations to effect political change (Atran, 2003). The suicide terrorism is an operational method in which the very act of the attack is dependent upon the death of the perpetrator (Boaz, 2000). The attacker does not expect to survive the mission.

The literature on suicide terrorism has been dominated by political and social theories (Sheehan, 2014). Psychological, social and political forces contribute to suicide terrorism. Often collective identity motivates their terrorist behavior.  Indoctrination is a unique feature of suicide terrorism (Grimland, Apter, & Kerkhof, 2006). Also group dynamics play a major role (Jayatunge, 2008). Although religion is not a single, simple causal factor in terrorist violence, religious elements often feature strongly in the belief systems associated with terrorist violence(Rogers et al., 2007). Miller (2006) states that psychological and religious dynamics are often associated with suicide terrorism. In addition the cultures of martyrdom is a contributing factor in suicide operations (Hafez, 2007).

The psychology of suicide terrorism is complex. The Suicide attackers do not operate in a vacuum (Jayatunge, 2008). Suicide bombing is the result of a highly complex interaction between many forces (Grimland et al., 2006).Suicide terrorism is strategically planned, rather than randomly performed by individual fanatics (Kao & McAlister, 2018). For suicide terrorists personal identity, which has been shattered by helplessness, shame, and humiliation, is replaced by group identity (Volkan, 1997). Suicide bombing are best understood when analyzed on personality level, an organizational level, and an environmental level.

Suicide bombers have common psychological features such as isolation, feelings of emptiness, cold rationality, a lack of empathy, and a lust for martyrdom and death (Marazziti Det al., 2018). Townsend (2007) hypothesized that suicide bombers are not truly suicidal and should not be viewed as a subgroup of the general suicide population.According to Townsend (2007) suicide is associated with psychopathology, and suicide terrorists do not exhibit overt psychopathology. Furthermore suicide terrorism has murderous intent.

There are connections between mental illness and terrorism (Weatherston & Moran, 2003). Psychiatric disorders such as depression and PTSD are higher among the suicide bombers (Sheehan, 2014). Suicide bombers can commit an extreme form of violence without any remorse.

MUSLIMS: EXTREMIST AND PAROCHIAL ATTITUDES

April 24th, 2019

Dr. Daya Hewapathirane. 

All ethnic and cultural groups within society are not equal and therefore need not be treated in the same way. All people do not hold the same values. All those who are privileged to have  Sri Lanka was their home, should be aware of the fact that the foundation of our nation, its societal norms and values originate from the Sinhala Buddhist heritage, which has a history of over 2200 years in this island. Whether we choose to live as Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Malay or Burger, or as Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Christians or atheists, our right to do so is derived from this heritage and associated way of life. It should be well remembered that in spite of attempts by European colonial powers for over four hundred years, to undermine our nation’s indigenous culture, and also, in spite of serious challenges faced by our country during the decades of Tamil terrorism, the fundamental elements of our Sinhala Buddhist national culture prevailed. That gave our nation its distinct identity and character. It is a well evident fact that our nation was able to confront these vicious forces and subdue them, owing to the courage, dedication and sacrifices made patriotic Sinhala Buddhists.  

          Islamic community in Sri Lanka is a small non-indigenous minority amounting to about 9% of the total population. Despite their small numbers they enjoy many special privileges. In recent years, with their new found petro dollars, it is noticeable from their attitude and actions, that some extremist Muslims in our country are posing a threat to the norms and values of our national culture and way of life. 

          It was an admirable characteristic of the Sinhala Buddhists, from historic times, to have accommodated without prejudice, in their country various non-indigenous ethnic and religious groups of people such as Muslims, Malays and Tamils, who settled down in our country at different times in the past, for various purposes.           Non-indigenous minority communities such as the Muslims should feel morally obliged to reciprocate the generosity and cordiality accorded to them by the dominant mainstream Sinhala Buddhist community, and adapt themselves to the norms and values of this mainstream of the country where they have chosen to live.

         Whatever discord and conflicts between the mainstream and the minorities in recent decades, can be largely attributed to extremist and parochial attitudes of ethnic and religious minorities. These undesirable developments were the outcome of extremist views of these minorities with short-sighted and misguided leaders having their own hidden agendas for their own benefit.

          There is clear evidence of disregard and disrespect on the part of most Muslims, for the Buddhist cultural heritage of our country.  Muslims have been responsible for the destruction of archeological remains and historic cultural monuments in areas inhabited by them, especially in the Eastern region of the country. The fundamentals of ‘Islam’ that are widely propagated by Muslims especially those pertaining to attitude towards non-Muslims, have serious negative implications as far as the national culture is concerned. Peaceful coexistence of different communities and the democratic principles and rule of law that form the basis of social organization in our country appear to be threatened by the divisive attitudes and covert actions of Muslim extremists.  

         The younger generation of Muslims are being brainwashed with extremist Islamic fundamentalism, in ‘Madrasas or exclusively Muslim schools that have sprung up in the country in recent years. The fundamentals of ‘Islam’ that are widely propagated in these Madrasas  have serious negative implications as far as the national culture is concerned. The younger generation of Muslims are being brainwashed with these extremist Islamic beliefs and practices in their exclusively Muslim schools.

Their new male and female attire displays their desire to look different and to be exclusive and separate from the nation’s mainstream. This polarization tendency of the Islamic community is self-imposed. It is definitely not because they feel marginalized.

This divisive spirit of Muslims is owing to the influence of Islamic teachings to keep away from non-Muslims who are considered as inferior to Muslims. The Koran forbids Muslims to closely associate non-Muslims. Islam has dualistic ethics with one rule for Muslims and one rule for non-believers and there is no exception to this rule. Why these extremist Muslims want members of their community to have a common attire and to look different from others is a big question. However, this has a divisive effect on society.  

          Islam’s teachings say that non-Muslims are inferior to Muslims. To closely associate non-Muslims is forbidden or ‘haram’ according to the Koran. Islam has dualistic ethics with one rule for Muslims and one rule for non-believers who form the majority of Sri Lankans. There is no exception to this rule. Most Muslims do not appear to be interested in integrating with other communities, perhaps because assimilation is not permitted under Islamic Shariah law.

         The rules of Islam govern politics, marriage and the day-to-day lives of its followers. In fact, Islam is a political ideology where the church and state are not separate. Under the circumstances, one cannot expect Muslims to develop a sense of patriotism and national pride in a predominantly non-Muslim country such as ours. Our people are well aware of Muslims of Sri Lanka cheering Pakistan at cricket matches played between Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

How many of us, especially those living in Sri Lanka are aware of the fact that Halal is a most repulsive and horrendous practice that involves extreme form of abuse and cruelty towards animals?  Halal is a gruesome method where the animals are tied down and their throats slashed, letting their blood ooze out slowly from the animal’s body and making animals die on their blood, a slow, lingering and agonizing death.  What is most horrendous is that this torturous practice takes place while the animals are desperately struggling for their lives. It is a well evident fact that these animals are conscious of what is happening to them. This is a most sickening and inhuman way of killing animals. It is a practice that should not be tolerated in any civilized society.

In a society such as ours where Buddhists predominate, and where non-violence towards all living beings is a fundamental tenet, practices of this nature cannot and should not be tolerated under any circumstances.  Animal welfare has been a tenet of the rulers of our nation from very early times, from the 3rd century BCE, when King Devanampiyatissa ruled the country. This was in-keeping with the declaration of the Buddha in the Cakkavatti Sihanada Sutta (Digha Nikaya of the Sutta Pitaka) that an ideal or virtuous ruler of a nation or ‘Cakkavatti King” will give protection and shelter not only to human beings, but also to birds and beasts. It was this king, over 2200 years ago, who established the world’s first Bird and animal sanctuary in Sri Lanka. Since this time, the principle of animal welfare prevailed in our country until the arrival of European colonial powers, starting with the ruthless Catholic Portuguese invaders, about at the beginning of the 16trh century. Besides hunting animals as a sport, the slaughtering of animals as a vocation started with the entry of Christianity and Islam to Sri Lanka.

The resurgence of Buddhism is a well evident development in the country in recent years. It is an opportune time to take action, on the part of the nation’s Buddhist leadership – lay and ordained, to develop a well-conceived policy against cruelty to animals, to save our animals from   ‘terrorism’ meted out to them by some quarters of people in our country.

Muslims are well known to be running successful businesses in predominantly Sinhala majority areas with the Sinhala people as their customers. They are involved in wealth generating employment connected with tourism and travel.  The household income of Muslims far exceeds those of ordinary Sinhala people. The per capita income of the Muslim community is far higher than that of the Sinhala majority community.

It is a pity that the Muslim leaders and successful individual in general, have shown greater interest in furthering the interests of the Muslim community and not the general public as a whole. It is time that Muslims invested more on hospitals, schools and other national social welfare activities and contributed tangibly for infrastructure development activities that benefit everyone and not necessarily the Muslim community.

It is time that Muslim establishments refrain from exclusively hiring Muslims, especially for responsible positions in their establishments.  There have been many instances of Muslim encroachment of places that are of Buddhist historic value, and the destruction of Buddhist monuments and items of archeological value in the Eastern Province in particular.  This definitely has to stop. If Muslims are involved in the illicit drug trade as often reported in the media, this is a national crime and has to stop. There has been much discussion in recent times about the deceitful and exploitative nature of the halal’ business venture of Muslims. Also, the allegation of various covert practices to increase the Muslim population at the expense of the Sinhala population has received much publicity in recent times.

Muslims should consider it their duty to participate more actively in national events such as the National day festivities and other important national events and international events as Sri Lankans and cheer Sri Lanka and rejoice in their international attainments in all fields including cricket and sports in general.  The indigenous cultural norms and values upon which this nation is founded should be well understood and respected by all citizens of this country, irrespective of their religious or other affiliations.

Most importantly, there are no restrictions in Sri Lanka for the construction of mosques in predominantly Sinhala areas.  It is a well known fact that Muslim countries do not permit even the display of a Buddha image, let along building Vihares. In activities connected with Muslim mosques, especially in early morning prayers using load speakers, the Muslims should pay more attention to the comforts and conveniences of the non-Muslim neighbors.   

It was not long ago that the exclusively Muslim, religion-based political party – the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and several Muslim civil society groups opposed the construction of Buddha’s statues on the southeast coastal areas. These were   predominantly Buddhist areas in the recent past, where Buddhist historic monuments and important archeological remains abound and these are some of  the cultural wealth of the nation

Dr. Daya Hewapathirane. 

PAKISTAN’S NEW IDENTITY

April 24th, 2019

ALI SUKHANVER

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s two-day official visit to Iran is certainly going to bring the two neighbouring countries more close to each other. Pakistan and Iran have a very long history of cordial relationship. Iran was the ever first country to recognize Pakistan’s sovereign status after its independence in 1947. Moreover the Shah of Iran was the first head of state that paid an official visit to Pakistan. According to a survey conducted by the PEW Research Center, Pakistan is a country where Iran is viewed positively. The conclusion report of that survey says, Polls have consistently shown that a very high proportion of Pakistanis view their western neighbor Iran positively.” But in spite of all this cordiality, things have not always been very good between these two countries and ‘credit’ of creating rather ‘encouraging’ misunderstandings between Iran and Pakistan certainly goes to the Indian agents of R&AW who have ever been very active in the bordering area of the two countries. On both sides this area is known as Baluchistan; on Iranian side this area comprises of 180,726 km² and a population of 2,775,014, whereas on Pakistani side the total area of Baluchistan is 347,190 km2 and population is 12,344,408. Baluchistan is a treasure land on both sides having immeasurable mineral deposits of Chromite, Copper, Lead, Iron, Zinc, Titanium, Manganese and Gold. On Pakistan’s side reserves of Copper and Gold were discovered in district Chaghai at Saindak and Rekodiq. Experts say that the deposits of Gold at Saindak and Rekodiq are of finest quality.  In short the mountains of Baluchistan are simply heaps of gold and other precious minerals and these minerals are making every one’s mouth water. By killing innocent people in Baluchistan sometimes in the name of sectarianism and sometimes in the name of racial identities, the agents of R&AW are trying to give the world an impression that there is no writ of the government of Pakistan in that region. When the security agencies start taking seriously strict action against such culprits, the agents of R&AW sitting in different western and Indian media houses start a blame game against the security agencies of Pakistan.

A few days back on 18th of April, more than fifteen terrorists camouflaged in Frontier Corps uniform barricaded the road and stopped four buses traveling to Gwadar from Ormara on the Makran Coastal Highway, Baluchistan. They checked the identity cards of all the passengers and off loaded fourteen of them who in fact belonged to the security forces of Pakistan. They were made to stand in a queue and then all shot dead. It was reported that the terrorists had come there from the Iranian side of Baluchistan and after ‘performing’ this massacre they ran back to the area they belonged to. As the terrorists had camouflaged themselves in the uniform of the Frontier Corps, it is very much obvious that they simply wanted to give an impression that this cowardly act was done by the security personnel of Pakistan. Though BRAS, an alliance of three terrorist organizations has claimed responsibility for this terrorist act but still things are not very much clear. But one thing is very much clear that the terrorists had come from the Iranian area and returned there after completion of the task assigned. The foreign office of Pakistan has written a letter to the Iranian Embassy which says, The information about the hubs of these Baloch terrorist organizations in Iran, having training camps and logistics bases across the border, was shared with Iranian intelligence in the recent past, and on a number of occasions earlier. Unfortunately, no action has been taken by Iran in this regard, to date.” The letter further says, Killing of 14 innocent Pakistanis by terrorists groups based in Iran is a very serious incident that Pakistan protests strongly. Pakistan awaits Iran’s response to its request for action against these groups based in Iran, whose locations have been identified by Pakistan a number of times.”

Whatever is happening there in Baluchistan has a direct link with the CPEC, with Gwadar Deep Sea Port Project and the recently discovered huge oil reserves close to the Iran border located 230km of Karachi’s offshore. Hu Weijia said reporting in the Global Times, Pakistan may soon hit the oil jackpot, and that will be good news for not only the country itself but all of South Asia as well as China and Gulf nations.” According to different media reports, US oil giant Exxon Mobil and Italy’s ENI have been involved in drilling process since January 2019. Experts say that on one hand these oil reserves would prove another CPEC like game changer for Pakistan and on the other hand these reserves would play a very important role in bringing the South Asian countries closer. This closeness would certainly bring a new spring of peace and prosperity in the region. Other than Mobil and ENI, there are so many other international companies which are willing to be a partner in different projects related to digging of the ‘oil-wells’. Experts are of the opinion that if Pakistan succeeds in attracting more companies to the project, it would certainly help Pakistan in fighting its present financial crisis. In short, it is being predicted that in near future Pakistan is going to gain a new identity; the identity of a leading oil producing country. It seems that some of the neighbouring countries are taking this new expected identity of Pakistan as a threat and a challenge to their own existence.

MUSLIMS AND SPIRIT OF INTERRELIGOUS UNDERSTANDING

April 24th, 2019

Dr. Daya Hewapathirane

Historically, Muslims have gone to great lengths, even waging wars, to impose Islam, their version of what they deem to be the one and true way. The attitude and position of ‘exclusivism’ adopted by Muslims, that Islam is the only true religion and rejecting the legitimacy of other faith traditions, does not help in developing a spirit of religious pluralism in society. The principle of ‘one truth, one religion’ or Exclusivism” lies at the heart of Islam. For the Muslims, the teaching in Islam represent the ‘best path’ and their egocentric attachment to their religion obstructs them from seeing the value of other religious traditions. They will not accept the pluralistic perspective of ‘many truths, many religions’.

It is time that Muslims of Sri Lanka, especially their leaders realize that without developing a genuine spirit of inter-religious understanding or a spirit of religious pluralism, there is no hope for the development of harmony based on true interreligious understanding. From the Buddhist point of view, there is tremendous diversity among sentient beings and individuals and groups find different ways of approaching and seeking spiritual development. This standpoint allows one to develop a sense of appreciation of all faith traditions.

From the Buddhist point of view, the belief in Allah with its emphasis on the idea of a ‘first cause’ that in itself is uncaused, amounts to falling into extreme absolutism, a view that obstructs the attainment of enlightenment.  If one believes that the entire cosmos, including the sentient beings within it, is the creation of one all-powerful and compassionate Allah, then, the inescapable consequence is that other faith traditions are also Allah’s or God’s creation. If this is not the case, then Allah is not omnipotent or the implication being that although these other faiths are ‘false ways’, Allah was  incapable of stopping their emergence.  If one maintains that although Allah or God is perfectly capable of preventing the emergence of these ‘false ways’ but he chooses not to do so, then one rejects Allah’s or God’s all-embracing compassion. This is because,  if Allah is all-powerful and compassionate, why did he choose to exclude millions of His own children, from following the so-called ‘false ways’ that would lead to their damnation? So the logic of monotheism in Islam, the standard version that attributes omnipotence, omniscience, and all-embracing compassion to Allah, inevitably entails recognition that the world’s many religious traditions are in one way or another related to Allah’s or God’s divine intentions for the ultimate well-being of His children. This means that, as a devout follower of Allah, one must accord respect, and if possible, reverence to all religions.   

The highly tolerant nature of the large majority of Buddhists of Sri Lanka should not be taken for granted.They are becoming increasingly aware of the various forms of threats to which they are subject without good reason, and as proven repeatedly in their nation’s long history of foreign aggression and misdemeanors, they will rise to the occasion when necessary, to save their Buddhist norms and principles forming the foundation of the national culture of their nation, their only motherland.   

Dr. Daya Hewapathirane

Our Sorrow and Condolences to the Victims and Families of the Sri Lanka’s Easter Carnage

April 24th, 2019

Society for Peace, Unity and Human Rights in Sri Lanka (SPUR) NSW Inc Australia

Our Society expresses its profound and heartfelt sorrow on the senseless killing of innocents in Sri Lanka. Our thoughts are with the families and persons affected by the deaths, grievous injury and destruction of property by terrorists who have caused fear and terror in the people of Sri Lanka and to the visitors to the island.

We give our condolences to the Christians who had been targetted on their Holiest Day of Easter Sunday whilst at prayer with sacred thoughts and goodwill at heart. This is a heinous crime our Society condemns unreservedly.

Our Society has been in the forefront of anti-terrorism in the 30 years of terrorism, conflict and the carnage in Sri Lanka which ended in 2009. Such an ending was possible due to the selfless life sacrifices made by members of our valiant defence forces. We will continue to assist in Sri Lankans to overcome the scourge of terrorism foisted on them once again this Easter Sunday.

Our Society also condemns multiple policy weaknesses of the present government in Sri Lanka that has contributed to the carnage. The government has deliberately let the guard down from 2015 in Sri Lanka even when surrounded by a world of enhanced extremist ideology, expansionist ethnic and religious greed, indoctrination through re-constructed histories, fake news, malicious propaganda, uncontrolled undisciplined social media and by open terrorism.

The government of Sri Lanka has again started bending backwards to please terrorist fronts who manipulate and operate through national and international agencies both government and non-government. Our security forces had been belittled, then witch-hunted time and again, and its moral broken and almost equated to terrorists themselves. Our intelligence agencies treated step-motherly, politicised, disbanded or their funding cut.

In this time of great sorrow let us pray and wish for the speedy recovery of all injured, the recovery from physical, mental and emotional damage caused to themselves and to those near and dear. Our respect and thoughts lie with the three members of the security forces and their families for the selfless sacrifice made in apprehending the suspects to this crime. It is once again time for those who deliberately forgot the security forces to reflect their undeniable worth and valour. Our thoughts are also with all Sri Lankans and others affected by these barbaric acts.

Let us also urge the persons in power or had been in power in Sri Lanka, not to find escape routes and hide behind flimsy excuses being made to the citizens, but to reflect upon their own deliberate actions in the past few years that contributed to this debacle, and take responsibility like leaders.

They will need to work for the good of the people, and to immediately stop working for their own selves and for their own political survival only.

Nimal Liyanage  
President                                                                                               
Nihal Jayasinghe
Secretary

                                                                                                  

ESTABLISHMENT OF MUSLIMS IN SRI LANKA

April 24th, 2019

Dr. Daya Hewapathirane

The Muslims of Sri Lanka should be aware of some important historic facts about Sri Lanka, if they are serious on becoming a legitimate part of this great nation. First, they should realize that, they are a small settler community in this country amounting to about 9% of its total population. Prior to the 15th century, the sole interest of the few male Arab merchants who visited the country was trade and they were basically visitors to the country. Gradually with passage of time, they married local woman and began settling down in some coastal regions. It was only by the 15th century that the Muslims became an established small minority community of the country. Therefore, it is incorrect to claim that Muslims have been an established community in Sri Lanka for over 1000 years. There is reference to Muslims and their settlements in Sri Lanka only during the period immediately prior to the arrival of the Portuguese in 1505 or the early 16th century.  For all purposes, the history of Muslims in Sri Lanka as an established community extends to about 600 years and definitely not 1000 years as claimed. The on and off, arrival and departure of sea-faring male Arab merchants exclusively for trade purposes in earlier centuries cannot be regarded as the beginnings of the establishment of the Muslim community in Sri Lanka.    

The country was referred to early times as Heladiva or Helabima which means the land or island of the Hela or Sinhala people. It was also referred to as Thunsinhalay (Ruhunu-Pihiti-Maya) or Sinhalay as it was called during the European colonial times (The Udarata Giwisuma or the Kandyan Convention of 1815 refers to the island as Sinhalay).

Muslims should be aware of the fact that this country has an unbroken written or recorded history that extends to a period exceeding 2500 years. According to this history, this country has been a Sinhala Buddhist nation since the introduction of Buddhism in the 3rd century BCE, in an unbroken manner for over 2200 years. The cultural norms and way of life of this country are an outcome of or are based on Buddhist principles.

The Muslims of Sri Lanka should be aware of the historic fact that Buddhism was brought to Sri Lanka about 1000 years before the origin of Islam, in the year 247 BCE.  That is about three hundred years before the origin of Christianity.  It is noteworthy that at the time of origin of the Islam religion in the early 7th century (622 CE?). the Sinhala were a highly advanced community. Up to the 7th century, our country has had 97 Sinhela Buddhist kings ruling the island. 

The 1600 year long period from 3rd century BCE to the 13th century CE, is referred to as the Golden era of our motherland, because of the vast overall development seen in the country, economically, socially and spiritually. Evidence of this prosperity is seen even today in the spectacular network of irrigation tanks and canals considered in modern times as engineering marvels, extensive farmland, and numerous Buddhist historic sites some of which have been designated by the UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. All these developments were the work of Sinhala Buddhists and took place in this country, way before Islam was ever known to the world. Besides, this development and prosperity was not attained through plunder, ruthless invasions and atrocities like in the case of communities that professed theistic religions such as Islam and Christianity. It is also noteworthy that this country had some of the greatest of literary works, paintings, sculpture and architecture, and historical chronicles written way before the Quoran and the Bible. The world renowned historic chronicle, laying out the written history fo this nation and of Buddhism in this country – the Mahawamsa was a product of this period.  

All these developments occurred way before the origin or Islam and some of it before the origin of Christianity. Our country was built on the Buddhist foundation for over two thousand years and the national character and identity of our motherland is Sinhela Buddhist. We were hospitable to permit non-indigenous settlers such as Tamils, Muslims and Moors in our motherland, with the expectation that they will integrate with our nation. They have no right whatsoever to seek autonomy or to claim territorial rights. They have no right to impose their religious or cultural norms and laws in our country which has its own characteristic national cultural norms and a well established rule of law. Muslims who live in Sri Lanka have no right to claim religious enclaves or regional autonomy in Sri Lanka. It is highly treacherous and ungrateful of settler communities to undermine the national culture, especially to destroy Sinhala Buddhist cultural sites, monuments and other historic and archeological treasures, and to impose Islamic norms such as the halal-halal stuff on the non-Muslims of Sri Lanka, and to propagate visible Islamic cultural norms in the open, that are damaging to the established visible cultural norms that characterize the of the vast mass of people of this country.       

Dr. Daya Hewapathirane

Ununpardonable blunder

April 24th, 2019

EDWARD GUNAWARDENA Former Director of Intelligence

Going by the media, both print and electronic, there had been overwhelming intelligence on the impending disaster that took away over 300 lives and injured over 500. Perhaps for the first time even intelligence agencies of friendly nations such as MI6, Mossad, FBI and RAW have fed the local counterparts with ‘red hot stuff’ in intelligence parlance. Understandable indeed, with the IS and its affiliated cells becoming a clear and present danger to peaceful democracies.

How is it that intelligence on this calamity that was to cruelly affect the nation as never before in its recent history, was not conveyed to the President and the country?

Intelligence that portends severe damage to the country must necessarily come to the notice of the Secretary/Defence of the President. I say this with authority.

In the late seventies of the last century when I was the Director of Intelligence, it was my report that was discussed by the National Security Council, presided over by the President. In exceptional situations I was able to bypass the Secretary/Defence, meet the President direct and personally brief him.

The failure on the part of the President and the National Security Council to initiate the necessary precautions, and also to alert the nation, is an unpardonable blunder.

Even if intelligence alerts had been ignored, proper police action on the Wanathavilla detection would have prevented the carnage.

The bombshell exposure by Minister Kabir Hashim that the suspects had been released on the request of a ‘Top’ politician is shocking, to say the least.

The ‘Top’ politician, the police that investigated the case, and even Minister Kabir have a lot to answer. The Minister responsible for the release of the suspects is a traitor who has to be taken in to custody and subjected to due process.

Mr. President, even if you get rid of the IGP, please give his successor the liberty to carry out his duties according to the law without political interference.

In any other country, govt. would have resigned – SF Easter Sunday bombings

April 24th, 2019

By Saman Indrajith Courtesy The Island

The entire government would have resigned if a disaster like the Easter Sunday carnage had happened in any other country, but such things would never happen in Sri Lanka, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka told Parliament, yesterday.

Participating in the debate on gazette declaring a state of emergency, Field Marshal Fonseka severely criticised both the government and the Opposition for allowing the deterioration of intelligence services.

He said that soon after the end of the war in 2009, he had proposed to build a national intelligence agency combining all intelligence units and divisions and to make it the best in South Asia. But no such thing had happened. Instead, the intelligence operatives had been used to stalk and surveillance of political enemies and their children, the former Army Commander said.

Fonseka said: “Governments that have been in power during the past 10 years need to take responsibility for this failure. Immediately after the war, the then government used intelligence services as instruments of political revenge. They used them to spy on us and our children. Even the new government did not do what should have been done.

“For example, I still depend on the security vehicle provided to me by the previous government. This government has done nothing to enhance my security though I am critical of terrorists and their activities. It is clear now that the National Security Council and Defence Secretary have neglected their responsibilities.

“As such, no one could escape responsibility for what happened.”

MP Fonsea pointed out that it had taken the LTTE years to mount large scale attacks like those carried out on Easter Sunday. “The LTTE’s terrorism was markedly different as it was an organisation fighting to divide the country. Its motives were political, whereas this group is pursuing a religious agenda.

“Whatever said and done, we are now back in an era where people’s lives are uncertain. We will see security barriers coming up again. Even those with beards will be subjected to more stringent checks. Tourists will stop coming and our economy will suffer. Even if a new government comes to power, it will face the same challenges.”

Fonseka questioned why some Opposition MPs were reportedly sitting in the National Security Council while both the PM and State Defence Minister were excluded. “There are some politicians who knew more about gambling and horses sitting at the National Security Council meetings while those who had the mandate to sit there are not invited. This is the sorry state prevailing with regard to national security today,” the Field Marshal said.

He also criticized the PM and State Defence Minister for not publicly raising the matter of their exclusion prior to the Easter Sunday atrocities. Even they could not escape responsibility for what happened, he added.

“I have nothing personal against the President, but he only returned to the country from Singapore at midnight on the day following Easter Sunday attacks. There were flights from Singapore which landed in Sri Lanka at 3.00pm and 9.00pm that day. Yet, he did not choose to take an earlier flight even after such an incident.”

Fonseka said he regretted that the intelligence reports on the impending attacks were seemingly not given even a fraction of the consideration given to information provided by Namal Kumara.

Mosque Officials Say They Warned Sri Lankan Authorities About Attacks

April 24th, 2019

DOUG MATACONIS ·Courtesy Outside the Beltway

Further evidence that Sri Lankan authorities failed to act on warnings of rising Jihadism in their country.

Officials at a mosque in Sri Lanka where several of the attackers responsible for Sunday’s massacre that resulted in the deaths of more than 300 people say that they warned law enforcement and government officials about some of the attackers involved in Sunday’s attack:

Reyyaz Salley, chairman of the Shaikh Usman Waliyullah mosque, told CNN that he had repeatedly attempted to warn the government about radical preachers in Sri Lanka, including Zahran Hashim, the alleged mastermind of the attacks. 

They started to attack Sufi mosques and shrines (in 2010),” he said. 

In February 2019, Salley sent police and intelligence officials videos that Hashim made, which Salley considered promoting jihad. He urged them to act upon it.

People have been brainwashed. He was talking about jihad. These are all very dangerous messages for the country,” he says.

If the authorities had taken our advice this could have been prevented.”

This news comes in the wake of the reports earlier this week that government officials had at least some warning of the attacks prior to Sunday but failed to act on them. At this time it’s still unclear what level of detail those warnings included so it’s not at all clear if the information the government did have would have been anywhere near sufficient to stop the attacks even if it had been acted upon. Additionally, it’s unclear if the sources of the information that the government had were sufficiently reliable to justify acting on them.

Notwithstanding this, though, the fact that the Sri Lankan government had those warnings in hand prior to the attacks and that it failed to act on that information, combined with the fact that it apparently failed to heed the warnings of Sri Lankan Muslims about the rise of Jihadist rhetoric from members of their own community is likely to lead to many questions about exactly how the government handled the situation and whether they are prepared to deal with what appears to be a growing Jihadist threat in the country.

This news comes at the same time that it is being reported that the group responsible for Sunday’s attacks was apparently planning a second wave of attacks:

A high-level intelligence official in Sri Lanka tells CNN that National Tawheed Jamath (NTJ) was planning a second wave of attacks across Sri Lanka.

NTJ has been named as the perpetrators by the Sri Lankan government, but it has not claimed the attacks.

In a statement published by the ISIS-affiliated news agency Amaq, the terror group said Sunday’s attackers were fighters of the Islamic State,” but its involvement in the attacks has not been proven.

The information was discovered in intelligence operations since Sunday’s explosions, according to the official.

If nothing else, this seems to be an indication that Islamic Jihadism is attempting to make inroads in parts of the Muslim world where, until now, it has not had any serious impact. That poses serious problems not just for Sri Lanka but also for nations such as India and Indonesia which, until now, have largely managed to avoid the rise of Jihadism among their Muslim population.

Sri Lanka’s Muslims Face an Angry Backlash

April 24th, 2019

By Jeffrey Gettleman and Dharisha Bastians Courtesy The New York Times

Muslims seeking safety in a mosque in Negombo after the Easter bombings.

NEGOMBO, Sri Lanka — Auranzeb Zabi was cooking rice at a friend’s house on Wednesday when he heard angry shouting outside, looked out the window and saw a mob of Sri Lankan men carrying iron bars.

A day after the Islamic State claimed responsibility for suicide bombings that killed more than 350 people, Muslims in some areas of Sri Lanka were facing a rising backlash.

The mob surrounded the house. Mr. Zabi, a Pakistani refugee who has lived in Sri Lanka for two years, said he grabbed his two children, dashed into the yard and scampered over two walls before reaching an army checkpoint.

There the mob caught up with him, he said, and delivered a harsh beating, begging the soldiers to let them kill him. Hours later, Mr. Zabi still looked terrified.


When you face 100 people,” he said, and then his voice slipped and he couldn’t finish the sentence. His eyes hardened.Muslims from Negombo being relocated to another town.CreditAdam Dean for The New York Times

Muslims from Negombo being relocated to another town.CreditAdam Dean for The New York Times

They even beat my kids,” he said.

In the town of Negombo, where an attack on a church during Easter services killed more than 100 people, gangs of Christian men moved from house to house, smashing windows, breaking down doors, dragging people into the streets, punching them in the face and then threatening to kill them, dozens of residents said. No deaths were reported, but many Muslims fear it is only a matter of time.

If one of the bombers’ goals in slaughtering hundreds of innocent men, women and children at hotels and churches on Easter Sunday was to stir new religious hatred in Sri Lanka, that may now be happening in some areas.

Despite pleas for calm from religious leaders of all faiths, tensions are rising and fear is traveling across this island nation like a fast-moving shadow. Many Muslims in different parts of the country say they are lying low and avoiding public places.

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Until this week, Sri Lanka didn’t have much history of Christian-Muslim violence. The two faiths are small minorities: The country is about 7 percent Christian, 10 percent Muslim, 13 percent Hindu and 70 percent Buddhist.

Religion was not a driving factor in Sri Lanka’s decades-long civil war, in which ethnic tensions between the majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils nearly tore the country apart.Until this week, Sri Lanka didn’t have much history of Christian-Muslim violence.CreditAdam Dean for The New York Times

During the war years, many Muslim men rose up the ranks of the government’s intelligence services because they were known for their fluency in Sri Lanka’s three major languages — Sinhala, Tamil and English.

But after the civil war ended in 2009, militant Buddhism began to surge. Some observers have said it was as if powerful forces in Sri Lankan politics were looking for a new enemy to fight. Hard-line Buddhist monks targeted churches and mosques, priests and imams, often with the tacit support of the security services.

While Muslims bore the brunt of these attacks, Christians suffered, too, and the two communities were essentially on the same side. But that informal alliance was seriously challenged by Sunday’s attacks, which the authorities say were carried out by Muslim extremists, primarily against Christians.

Many Muslims have tried to help grieving Christians, offering food and friendship, but the outreach has been complicated. Feelings are so raw that one priest told members of a mosque to stay away from the funerals.St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo, where terrorists attacked on Easter Sunday.CreditAdam Dean for The New York Times

St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo, where terrorists attacked on Easter Sunday.CreditAdam Dean for The New York Times

On Wednesday, as Christian gangs roved their neighborhood, hundreds of Pakistani Muslims including Mr. Farhan and Mr. Zabi, rushed for protection first to a police station and then to a mosque. Soldiers and police officers guarded the mosque gates and checked the identification of any visitors. Still, elders felt uneasy about the location.

By late afternoon a string of buses chugged out of the mosque with every seat filled and people packed in the aisles, instantly relocating an entire community of Muslims to a small town miles away where none had ever lived.

The Pakistani refugees are easy targets. They look different, speak a different language and were already on unsure footing, living in Sri Lanka as guests of the government while refugee agencies sorted out longer-term resettlement plans.

But they are hardly the only Muslims who are frightened.

About two hours away, in the town of Bandaragama, Mohamed Iqbal, a Muslim man as Sri Lankan as anyone else, winced as he looked at his shoe shop.

He had run Shoe Fashion for 15 years and the few hundred dollars it generated each month supported his wife, his three adult sons and two grandchildren. But Shoe Fashion is no more.Easter Sunday Attacks Add a New Dimension to Sri Lanka’s Sectarian TensionsThe deadly attacks on Easter Sunday marked a departure from the country’s sectarian tensions, with a radical Islamist group targeting Christian minorities.

It was gutted by fire the night of the suicide bombings — obviously revenge,” a neighboring shopkeeper said. A rock lay on the ground that had been used to smash the lock and open the roll-top shutter. Inside, it still smelled like char.

Our religious beliefs could not be more different from the Islamic State’s,” said Mr. Iqbal’s son Ifaz. But now everyone is looking at us as if we were the ones who bombed the churches.”

Sri Lanka is a complicated tapestry of ethnicities and religions. Many Muslims said they have gotten used to discrimination operating in the background, even during the peaceful times.

Say you walk into a bank and someone sees your beard,’’ Mr. Ifaz said. They might make you wait, even when they don’t have to.’’

In June 2014, after years of dehumanizing speech by hard-line Buddhist monks, religious bigotry exploded. Mobs of young Buddhist men attacked a Muslim neighborhood in a southern town, burning down houses, killing at least three Muslims and sending fear into just about every Muslim household in Sri Lanka.

Police officers were accused of standing by and sometimes even helping the Buddhist mobs. The Iqbal family wonders if the same is happening again.

On Wednesday, officials played down reports of violence, saying no one had been seriously hurt. The police said they were beefing up security around mosques and in Muslim neighborhoods, and trying to tamp down tensions.

But you know,” Mr. Ifaz said, there was a curfew the night our shop was burned. Maybe the police were there.”

Sri Lanka’s Bloody Legacy: A Country Ravaged by UK-Fueled 26-year Civil War

April 24th, 2019

La nueva Televisión del Sur C.A.

The history of Sri Lanka is marred with bloodshed and a 26-year-old civil war caused by British colonial rulers pitting Sinhalese and Tamil against each other. 

Located in the Indian Ocean south of India, the small island country of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka witnessed one of its deadliest attacks in recent history.

On Easter Sunday a series of suicide bombingsclaimed 359 lives. However, the bloodbath is not uncommon in the island which was ravaged by a civil war spanning over two decades and ending in 2009.

The civil war in a country of 21.2 million population, was between majority Sinhalese and minority Tamilians. It was a war for recognition, respect, and basic rights.

To understand the aspects of the civil war, one needs to take a brief look at the country’s history.

HISTORY

Sri Lanka, called Ceylon until 1972, had its own Indigenous population but later people from India started settling in the country.
In 1505 the Portuguese colonized Ceylon when seven warring kingdoms were trying to increase their territory. The Buddhists disliked the Portuguese occupation and welcomed Dutch intervention just to oust the former colonizers.

The Dutch started colonizing in 1638 and by 1660, they controlled the whole island.

During the Napoleonic wars, Britain started colonizing Sri Lanka and in 1815, they were successful in occupying the whole island. In 1833, the island was united under one British administration.

In 1948 Sri Lanka gained its independence and took a path which would later start a civil war.

The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. | Photo: Google Maps

GENESIS OF CONFLICT

After gaining its independence, the Sinhalese started disenfranchising Tamil migrants who were preferred by the British during colonialism.

The British, during its ruling, used only English for official purposes and education which was not widely accessible. A few English language schools were in the north of the country where the majority of inhabitants were Tamilians. Hence they started getting civil service jobs and the Sinhalas were left behind.

After independence, the ruling power was transferred to Sinhalese elites by the UK outgoing power. They started making policies that would marginalize the Tamilians like passing the Sinhala Only Act” in 1956 that would make Sinhala the official language. In 1972  Buddhism was made the official religion. The Tamils are mainly Hindus and Christians.

The repression spread to many sectors including education. It was harder for Tamilians to get a place in university because of the Sinhala Only Act.

Initially, the Tamilians started non-violent protests demanding an independent state for Tamilians. But it soon turned violent after facing brutal repression from the government.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE). | Photo: Reuters

EMERGENCE OF LTTE AND CIVIL WAR

Amid growing tensions, in 1976 Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) was formed under the leadership of Velupillai Prabhakaran. It started campaigning for Tamil homeland mainly in northern and eastern Sri Lanka.

It was an armed movement which had a well-trained army of fighters. They partook in many suicide bombings in the country.

In 1987, India, which has a large number of the Tamil population in the south, sent a peacekeeping force for three years which caused mayhem in the country. The troops were sent to enforce the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord according to which Tamilians were supposed to have some degree of regional autonomy in Tamil areas.

However, India did not take into account LTTE’s demands which led to a full-fledged war between the two.

Soon after the battle, the LTTE assassinated then Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 and the Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa in 1993.

Since then peace talks started being regularly held, ceasefires announced and subsequently breaking of ceasefires.

RELATED:

Sri Lanka Gov’t Says Unknown Islamist Group Behind Attacks, Imposes Curfew

In 2008, the ceasefire was broken for the last time when the government withdrew from the truce and started full-fledged repression of LTTE which also included a witchhunt of Tamilians. Around 40,000 Tamil civilians were killed in the final few weeks of the war.

Finally in 2009, under the administration of the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the army killed Prabhakaran and a few days after that declared victory over LTTE.

As many surviving LTTE cadres surrendered, many more fled to India.

POST CIVIL WAR

The human cost of the 26 years civil war was the death of more than 100,000 civilians, 65,000 missing people, almost 800,000 internally displaced.

In August 2011, the Rajapaksha government allowed the expiry of state emergency laws which had been in place for almost 40 years with small interruptions in between.

Efforts were made to integrate Tamilians in the society but war crimes against Tamilians were never investigated despite outcry by international communities.

Tamils in Sri Lanka protesting against war crimes during the civil war. | Photo: Reuters

The country did not see any bloody violence since the end of civil war even though analyses said many top cadres of LTTE are still alive in self-imposed exiles who might try to regroup and return.

But the country did witness political upheavals recently. Current President Maithripala Sirisena suspended the parliament in 2018 replacing Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa whose increasing hard-line attitude after the war, waned his fame. A ruling by the Constitutional Court re-instated Wickramasinghe as the prime minister.

The island has also been witnessing sweeping anti-Muslim bigotry mainly fed by majority Buddhist nationalists but the country never had a history of Mulsim militants.

On April 21, rupturing 10 years of relative peace on April 21, seven suicide bombers from a militant Islamist organization killed 359 people bringing forth emergency laws and fear psychosis among a population which was still trying to heal from a bloody past.

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Island’s tourism may take a hit, hurting economy badly

April 24th, 2019

Courtesy The Straits Times

Country with already precarious external position may be forced to seek more IMF aid

HONG KONG • Sri Lanka faces a likely collapse of tourism following the Easter Sunday bomb attacks on churches and hotels, which would deal a severe blow to the island’s economy and financial markets, and potentially force it to seek further IMF assistance.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) extended last month a US$1.5 billion (S$2.04 billion) loan for an extra year into 2020, a key step in keeping foreign investors involved in a top-performing frontier debt market this year.

But with growth, and therefore state revenues, now likely to slow significantly, the budget targets agreed with the IMF may have to be reviewed, and the government is expected to resist pressure for any spending cuts before elections expected later this year.

There is even a possibility that more IMF money may be needed if foreign investment falls, adding to the hard currency gap left by plunging tourism receipts.

IMF’s Sri Lanka mission chief Manuela Goretti said on Tuesday that initial financial market pressures on Sri Lanka appeared contained after the horrific attacks.

“Decisive policy and security measures by the authorities will be important, in particular for tourism, which accounts for 5 per cent of GDP, to build on the strong performance of recent years,” she said.

The Sri Lankan stock index dived 2.6 per cent on Tuesday in its first day of trading after the attacks that left more than 300 people dead, while the heavily managed rupee held steady. Tourism is Sri Lanka’s third-largest and fastest-growing source of foreign currency, after remittances and garment exports, accounting for almost US$4.4 billion of gross domestic product last year.

A fall in tourism receipts is bound to weaken the rupee over time.

The central bank, whose coffers are too light to defend the currency through interventions, is likely to have to raise interest rates.

This would choke lending, hurting consumers and the investment plans of local businesses, while also making it more costly for the government to seek funding from foreign investors via bond markets.

Sri Lanka’s external position was already precarious. To help fund a record US$5.9 billion in foreign loans this year, the country successfully sold US$2.4 billion in five-year and 10-year US dollar bonds last month, but that was right after the IMF extension and amid bets of looser monetary policy.

In January, Sri Lanka used its reserves to repay debt worth US$1 billion. It had about US$5 billion left in February, the least since April 2017, and only enough to cover two months of imports and about two-thirds of its short-term external debt. Colombo also needs to finance a current account deficit of about 3 per cent of GDP.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is already facing heavy criticism domestically for higher taxes, and tight monetary and fiscal policies that have crimped growth to a 17-year low.

He has set an ambitious fiscal deficit goal of 4.4 per cent of GDP, compared with 5.3 per cent last year. But he also boosted spending on state employees, pensioners and the armed forces, and promised more funds for rural infrastructure, leading economists to doubt the targets.

A presidential vote is expected later this year, followed by a general election next year.

Blood brothers: the wealthy family behind Sri Lanka’s suicide attacks

April 24th, 2019

COLOMBO (Reuters) – Sri Lankan housewife Fathima Fazla thought of her neighbors in the grand three-storey home across the street as the wealthy celebrities of her humble Colombo suburb. She had no idea how infamous they would become.Security personnel stand guard near St Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo, three days after a string of suicide bomb attacks on churches and luxury hotels across the island on Easter Sunday, in Sri Lanka April 24, 2019. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

Two brothers who lived at the white house on Mahawela Gardens have emerged as key players in suicide attacks on Easter Sunday that killed more than 350 people and stunned an island state that had enjoyed a decade of relative peace.

The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for the coordinated attacks on three churches and four hotels.

Inshaf Ibrahim, a 33-year-old copper factory owner, detonated his explosive device at the busy breakfast buffet of the luxury Shangri-La hotel, a source close to the family said.

When police went later that day to raid the family home, his younger brother Ilham Ibrahim detonated a bomb that killed him, his wife and the couple’s three children, the source told Reuters, requesting anonymity for fear of reprisals.

They seemed like good people,” Fazla told Reuters from her rundown home opposite the Ibrahim family residence, now cordoned off with crime-scene tape and marshaled by police.

The brothers’ names were also reported in local media. Sri Lankan authorities have not released the identities of any of the bombers, and police did not respond to request for comment.

The brother’s father, Mohamed Ibrahim, was arrested as police investigate those behind the attacks, police said. Ibrahim, a wealthy spice trader and pillar of the business community, had six sons and three daughters. He was admired by many who knew him.

He was famous in the area for helping the poor with food and money. It’s unthinkable his children could have done that,” Fazla said, glancing affectionately at her two young daughters. Because of what they have done, all Muslims are treated as suspects.”

Ilham Ibrahim, 31, openly expressed extremist ideologies and had been involved in meetings of National Thowheed Jamath, a local Islamist group suspected of involvement in planning the attacks, according to the source close to the family.

His entrepreneur brother, Inshaf, was outwardly more moderate in his views, and was known to be generous with donations to his staff and struggling local households, the source said. Inshaf was married to a daughter of a wealthy jewelry manufacturer and he faced no problems with money.

I was shocked. We never thought they were these kind of people,” said Sanjeewa Jayasinghe, a 38-year-old network cabling engineer who works next door to the Ibrahim family home.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-sri-lanka-blasts-bombers/blood-brothers-the-wealthy-family-behind-sri-lankas-suicide-attacks-idUSKCN1S0202?feedType=RSS&feedName=worldNews&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Reuters%2FworldNews+%28Reuters+World+News%29&&rpc=401

Pregnant wife of Sri Lanka bomber detonates suicide vest, killing children and police

April 24th, 2019

By South Asia correspondent Siobhan Heanue, Middle East correspondent Eric Tlozek and wires Courtesy ABC News

Yellow crime scene tape blocks off a white house as a police man stands and talks on his phone.

PHOTO: A policeman stands outside the family home raided by police after the Sri Lanka terror bombings on Easter Sunday.(ABC News)

The pregnant wife of a Sri Lanka bomber detonated a suicide vest when police raided the affluent family’s home in the wake of the terror attacks, killing her own children.

Key points:

  • Death toll from Sri Lanka suicide bombings stands at 359 killed, 500 injured
  • Two brothers at the centre of the plot were the sons of a wealthy spice merchant
  • Many hotel staff are not turning up to work, scared that their workplaces will be targeted

Another of the suicide bombers behind the deadly string of attacks that killed 359 people and injured 500 on Easter Sunday studied in Australia before returning to settle in Sri Lanka.

Abdul Lathief Jameel Mohamed studied in the UK before doing postgraduate study in Melbourne.

Sri Lanka’s deputy defence minister Ruwan Wijewardene told a press conference most of the suicide bombers were well educated and from affluent families.

Some had law degrees, and all were Sri Lankan, he added.

A camouflage van is parked in front of a white house, with police in the background with yellow crime scene tape.

PHOTO: A bomb squad vehicle on the street in Sri Lanka following the Easter Sunday terror bombings that claimed more than 300 lives. (ABC News)

‘Blood brothers’

Two brothers at the centre of the plot were the sons of a wealthy spice merchant, and their sprawling white house is one of the most ostentatious in the suburb where they lived.

A picture of broken windows.

PHOTO: When police raided the home of a family believed to be involved in the Sri Lanka terror attacks, a bomb was detonated, killing those inside and shattering windows. (ABC News)

One of them, Inshaf Ibrahim, a copper factory owner in his 30s, is believed to have been the mastermind of the bomb plot.

He detonated his explosive device at the busy breakfast buffet of the luxury Shangri-La hotel, a source close to the family said.

The family’s Colombo home was raided by police shortly afterwards.

Mr Wijewardene said that as police arrived, the pregnant wife of one of the brothers detonated a suicide jacket, killing herself and her two children as well as three police officers.

Sri Lankan police outside a big white house.

PHOTO: Police outside the Ibrahim house, where a pregnant woman detonated a suicide vest, killing herself, her two children, and three police officers. (ABC News: Eric Tlozek)

Ilham Ibrahim openly expressed extremist ideologies and had been involved in meetings of National Thowheed Jamath, a local Islamist group suspected of involvement in planning the attacks, according to the source close to the family.

Who are the National Tawheed Jamaath?

Who are the National Tawheed Jamaath?

Questions are being raised regarding an alleged warning by the Sri Lankan Foreign Intelligence services prior to the attack, and whether enough was done to prevent it.

His entrepreneur brother, Inshaf, was outwardly more moderate in his views, and was known to be generous with donations to his staff and struggling local households, the source said.

He was married to the daughter of a wealthy jewellery manufacturer.

The brothers’ father, Mohamed Ibrahim, was arrested as police investigate those behind the attacks, police said.

Mr Ibrahim, a wealthy spice trader and pillar of the business community, had six sons and three daughters. He was admired by many who knew him.

“He was famous in the area for helping the poor with food and money. It’s unthinkable his children could have done that,” neighbour Fathima Fazla said.

“Because of what they have done, all Muslims are treated as suspects.”

A black garage door is badly dented with yellow crime scene tape in front.

PHOTO: The garage door was badly damaged after a bomb detonation at the Ibrahim house in Dematagoda, Colombo, Sri Lanka. (ABC News)

Muslim community instilled with fear

Sri Lanka’s Muslim community is on edge, with Pakistani Muslim refugees near Negombo — where a church was blown up — boarding buses to escape the threat of retaliation.

Muslims living nearby the family of the two sibling suicide bombers expressed their sorrow that their neighbours were involved in the terror plot.

Yellow flowers in vases and a statue of the Virgin Mary in a window with a streetscape in the background.

PHOTO: A Christian shrine opposite the Dematagoda mosque in Colombo, Sri Lanka. (ABC News: Eric Tlozek)

“Not only for Muslims, the whole community, the whole of Sri Lanka, everybody is our brothers and sisters, everybody who has passed away are our brothers and sisters,” said a woman who identified herself by her first name Taybeh, a Muslim neighbour of the Ibrahim brothers.

“Everybody was worried; we didn’t have proper sleep for three days.

“I have a small brother, he was very afraid, all the kids in the lane, they were very afraid, my small brother — he is not even going to the bathroom by himself.

A large banner reads: 'We condemn the senseless killings of innocent Christians at worship in their Churches'.

PHOTO: A banner condemning extremism outside a mosque in Sri Lanka following the terror suicide bombings that claimed hundreds of lives. (ABC News: Brant Cumming)

“Everyone is thinking, what will happen the next moment?” she said.

“Even when I sleep I don’t know whether I’ll get up the next morning.”

Intelligence failure heightens political tensions

The failure to act on detailed intelligence pointing to the planned attacks has led to feuds at the highest levels of government, with Sri Lankan President Maithrapala Sirisena asking for the country’s defence secretary and police chiefto step down.

A special task force officer speaks with an official outside the Ibrahim home

PHOTO: A special task force officer speaks with an official outside the Ibrahim home, where the Sri Lanka terror bombings were allegedly masterminded. (ABC News: Eric Tlozek)

Mr Wijewardene, the deputy defence minister, said authorities had been investigating Islamic State group infiltration in Sri Lanka for years, keeping a close eye on returned foreign fighters and their families.

“I didn’t know it was going to be scaled up to this,” he said.

Arrests, interrogations and controlled detonations are still continuing around Sri Lanka, with authorities saying they also plan to beef up security around airports and for airlines.

‘She was already dead’

'She was already dead'

Australian man Sudesh Kolonne describes the harrowing moment his wife and 10-year-old daughter were killed in the Sri Lanka terrorism attacks. 

Australian, UK, US and UAE agencies are helping with investigations.

“Within a couple of days, we will have total control,” Mr Wijewardene said.

The attacks have already had a devastating effect on Sri Lanka’s economy, with mass cancellations of bookings at hotels.

The Colombo Shangri-La hotel, which was bombed, has shut until further notice.

Many hotel staff are not turning up to work, scared that their workplaces will be targeted.

The increased security presence around major centres and night time curfews are continuing.

But there is concern whether the funding, as well as the manpower and training to sustain this degree of security, will be available.

But for now, sweeping emergency powers for the military is the new normal.

Warning from Sri Lanka’s bombings

April 24th, 2019

Courtesy The Economic Times

If the Islamic State is active in south Asia, India would definitely be a prime candidate for terror strikes. Indian intelligence agencies have to be on high alert and policing, rigorous. Most importantly, the citizenry must be vigilant, ready to notice suspicious activity, investigate it discreetly and report what does not pass the test of innocence to the authorities. At a broader and generalised level, religious and quasi-religious activity across all faiths must be monitored for signs of radicalisation and voices raised from within communities against radicalism that could lead to violence. Political parties must appreciate their special responsibility in curbing the radical impulse, even when the temptation is strong to feed it for short-term political gain.

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the bomb blasts in Sri Lanka on Easter that killed more than 350 people. While it is unclear if this is mere glory-seeking by the outfit after it has been stripped of territory or a substantive claim, prudence calls for taking the claim seriously, and being on guard. India is said to have supplied intelligence to Sri Lanka about the bombing being planned by an outfit called the National Thowheeth Jama-’ath. Sri Lankan officials have brought into the discussion a splinter group as well. Whatever the precise name of the organisation that planned and executed this horrific massacre, what is striking is the fanaticism of the suicide bombers, who blew themselves up without any personal grievance or direct animosity towards their victims, except for their adherence to a faith other than their own. Such religion-based animosity towards fellow human beings is not the monopoly of the Islamic State, nor new to India — Mohandas Gandhi fell victim to precisely such religion-based hatred.

Community elders, religious heads and political leaders of all hues must wake up to the dangers of breeding religion-based hatred. It can blow up not just some people and buildings but the foundations of our nation itself. Politics must build and protect, not just jostle for power.

First pictures of ‘middle class’ suicide bomber brothers who calmly walked into Sri Lanka’s five star hotels and murdered innocents having breakfast

April 24th, 2019

Courtesy Mail OnLine

  • Wealthy brothers Inshaf and Ilham Ibrahim bombed the luxury Shangri-La and Cinnamon Grand hotels in Sri Lanka’s Easter Sunday terror attack
  • Suicide bomber brothers were the sons of a millionaire spice trader and were privately educated in Colombo
  • Their attacks claimed the lives of at least 41 foreigners, including eight British holidaymakers – three of whom were children
  • As police raided their £1m mansion in an exclusive neighbourhood of Colombo, Ilham’s pregnant wife Fatima blew herself up, killing her three children and three officers
  • Inshaf, a successful businessman, owned a copper factory thought to be where the suicide bombs were made 
  • At least 321 people were murdered in the massacre, 45 of them children, while more than 500 were injured
  • Chilling footage shows Ilham and an accomplice bomber attack the Shangri-La while guests had breakfast 
  • Second clip earlier showed different bomber patting a girl on the head before launching attack on a church 
  • ISIS has claimed responsibility and released footage of the fighters swearing allegiance to the jihadist group

These are the first pictures of the suicide bomber brothers who butchered eight Britons when they blew themselves up in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday.

Wealthy brothers Inshaf and Ilham Ibrahim calmly walked into the luxury Shangri-La and Cinnamon Grand hotels and detonated their vests as guests were eating breakfast.

Their attacks claimed the lives of at least 41 foreigners, including eight British holidaymakers – three of whom were children.

Hours later, as police raided their mansion in an exclusive neighbourhood of Colombo, Ilham’s pregnant wife Fatima blew herself up, killing her three children and three officers.   

Inshaf Ibrahim (pictured) was on of the Sri Lanka suicide bombers who attacked the luxury Cinnamon Grand Hotel on Easter Sunday
His brother Ilham Ibrahim (pictured) detonated his suicide vest at the Shangri-La Hotel as guests ate their breakfast

Suicide bomber brothers Inshaf Ibrahim (left) and Ilham Ibrahim (right) calmly walked into the luxury Shangri-La and Cinnamon Grand hotels on Easter Sunday morning and detonated their vests, killing guests having their breakfast

Inshaf (pictured far right at a business awards), 38, lived with his wife and their four children - an eight-year-old daughter and three boys aged six, four and two - in a £1.5million six-bed mansion on one of the most exclusive streets in Colombo

Inshaf (pictured far right at a business awards), 38, lived with his wife and their four children – an eight-year-old daughter and three boys aged six, four and two – in a £1.5million six-bed mansion on one of the most exclusive streets in Colombo

The wealthy brothers - sons of a millionaire spice trader - are two of nine jihadis who carried out the devastating bomb attacks in Sri Lanka. They are believed to be pictured here alongside National Thawheed Jamaath leader Moulvi Zahran Hashim

The wealthy brothers – sons of a millionaire spice trader – are two of nine jihadis who carried out the devastating bomb attacks in Sri Lanka. They are believed to be pictured here alongside National Thawheed Jamaath leader Moulvi Zahran Hashim

Ilham, whose wife Fatima blew herself up when police raided their mansion in an exclusive part of Colombo, is pictured alongside an accomplice bomber entering the second-floor restaurant at the Shangri-La hotel before the deadly attack

Ilham, whose wife Fatima blew herself up when police raided their mansion in an exclusive part of Colombo, is pictured alongside an accomplice bomber entering the second-floor restaurant at the Shangri-La hotel before the deadly attack

It comes as CCTV footage has revealed the moment one of the bomber brothers, Inshaf,  nervously shuffling back and forth before deciding to blow himself up at the Cinnamon Grand hotel.

The footage from a camera in the hotel’s packed Taprobane restaurant shows the bomber hovering just inches away from diners. 

Wearing a light shirt, dark baseball cap and a large backpack, the attacker hesitates – shuffling from foot to foot before detonating his suicide vest at 9.12am. 

Inshaf had reportedly checked into the hotel the previous night using a fake name and claiming to be on a business trip.

Earlier, footage revealed that his brother Ilham and an accomplice bomber took a lift to the restaurant of the five-star Shangri-La hotel before blowing themselves up. 

Wearing backpacks, the two men appear to discuss their plans in the elevator on the second floor in the final moments before the Easter Sunday massacre. 

The bombers then enter the Table One eatery almost unnoticed while hotel guests are having breakfast before he detonates his deadly weapon. 

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6955605/First-pictures-Sri-Lankas-middle-class-suicide-bomber-brothers-murdered-innocents.html

One of nine suicide bombers a woman: Minister

April 24th, 2019

Courtesy The Daily Mirror

One of the nine bombers that detonated explosives on Easter Sunday was a woman, State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardene has said on Wednesday.

Straits Times said the state minister’s comment came after police confirmed that nine suicide bombers were involved in the blasts and eight have been identified.

It has been revealed that one of the suicide bombers had studied in Britain and Australia, it said.

Hizbullah’s connection to NTJ – Sumanthiran

April 24th, 2019

ANANTH PALAKIDNAR & METHMALIE DISSANAYAKE Courtesy Ceylon Today

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Parliamentarian, President’s Counsel M.A. Sumanthiran said today (24) that Eastern Province Governor M.L.A.M. Hizbullah’s alleged connections to the National Thowheed Jamaath (NTJ) must be investigated along with all connections this group has had with various other politicians and previous defence officials.

Sumanthiran was addressing the Parliament on the Easter Sunday carnage.

He said: The Muslim people, to their credit, have repeatedly complained about these miscreants. Years ago, Muslim groups raised the issue of radicalisation with Government Intelligence officials, and appealed that steps be taken to halt this process. Further, in 2017 itself, they even held a demonstration in Kattankudy and asked that Zahran (suspected Leader of the NTJ) be arrested. I must, in this respect, commend the brave conduct of Minister Kabir Hashim, who has set a great example for all of us. There are many serious questions that are being asked about Hizbullah and his connections to the NTJ. This must be investigated along with all connections this group has had with various other politicians and previous defence officials.”

Meanwhile, TNA Leader R. Sampanthan, speaking in Parliament on the same day, said that there should be an investigation to determine whether there was a foreign link in the recent terror attacks.

He also said that an independent investigation should be carried out to find out why the authorities failed to act to prevent the tragedy when they had all the intelligence information.

Findings of this investigation should be made public because people deserve the truth,” he said.

Another important question is why the terrorists chose Sri Lanka for this attack. Is it that we are divided politically? Is it that we are weak in the economic perspective? We should find out that as well. We should turn this situation around. This Parliament unanimously agreed to pass a new Constitution. We should go forward with that for the sake of our country. We shouldn’t be a divided country. We should be united. For that a new Constitution should be implemented. Then everyone will feel that Sri Lanka is going on a new path. So everyone should commit to achieve that. Otherwise we won’t be able to survive. We should keep to our commitment without any interruption,” he said.

Inspector General of Police transferred 12 SIS officers days prior to Easter attacks – SLPP

April 24th, 2019

RANMINI GUNASEKARA Courtesy Ceylon Today

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) today (24) claimed that the Inspector General of Police, Pujith Jayasundara, had on 18 April, authorized the transfer of 12 officials attached to the State Intelligence Service (SIS), just days prior to the Easter Sunday attacks which took place on 21 April.

Parliamentarian Rohitha Abeygunawardena revealed this at a press conference held at the Party headquarters.

He also produced supporting documents, on these transfers, purportedly signed by the IGP, containing the names, current status and the transferred divisions of the said SIS officers.

Abeygunawardena further claimed that those Intelligence officers, who were transferred, were those who tipped off the authorities regarding the impending attacks that were set to take place on Easter Sunday.

I didn’t earn the title ‘Field Marshal’ for selling snacks in Galle Face – Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka

April 24th, 2019

Vehemently criticizing both, the Government and the Opposition equally, over the recent terror attacks carried out by Islamic fundamentalists; United National Party (UNP) Parliamentarian, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka today (24) said that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardena cannot escape the responsibility for the tragedy by simply saying that they were not summoned for the meetings of the National Security Council (NSC).

Participating in the special Parliamentary debate on the prevailing terror situation in the country, Fonseka said, I respect the Prime Minister. Nevertheless, if you were not summoned for the NSC meetings, you could have raised that issue in this House. You had six full months and you never said anything about it. Now you cannot escape saying that you were not summoned or informed about this. As the State Minister of Defence, Wijewardena must be at the NSC meetings. What is the point of a State Minister of Defence if he cannot attend such crucial meetings? If he could not do anything about it, he should have resigned from the post.”

Fonseka added, I was given a chance to meet the Prime Minister 48 hours after the terror attack. I did not earn the title Field Marshal for selling snacks in Galle Face. There is no member in this Government who has more knowledge than I have with regard to national security related matters. If there is any such person, I will give this title to him. This Government never uses our knowledge. I do not need any positions. Just utilize the knowledge of people like me to ensure national security.

“Also, I have nothing personal against the President. However, he only returned to the country from Singapore, at midnight on the day following the tragic incidents. There were flights from Singapore which landed in Sri Lanka at 3:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. that day. Yet, he did not choose to take an earlier flight even after such an incident. Is that suitable for a Leader?

All the Governments after 2010 should take responsibility for this terror attack. I think Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa can remember that I proposed to build a national intelligence agency combining all intelligence units and divisions and to make it the best in South Asia soon after the war. But unfortunately, that did not happen. Instead, the intelligence operatives had been used to stalk political enemies and their children and conduct surveillance. Even the new Government did not do what should have been done. Both these Governments allowed intelligence services to deteriorate,” he added.

Furthermore, he noted that the Easter Sunday’s attack was a long planned one.

It took 12 years for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to carry out a suicide attack on the then Defence Minister Ranjan Wijeyaratne. Therefore, these people must have planned the recent attack at least seven to eight years ago. The LTTE’s terrorism was markedly different as it was an organisation fighting to divide the country. Its motives were political, whereas this group is pushing a religious agenda. I regret that the intelligence reports on the recent attack were ignored. It seems that the authorities did not give a fraction of the consideration given to information provided by Operations Director of the Anti Corruption Force, Namal Kumara for them,” he added.

UNICEF says 45 children killed in Easter Day attacks

April 24th, 2019

Courtesy Adaderana

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said Tuesday it is deeply shocked and saddened” by the terrible violence against families including children in churches and hotels on Easter Sunday across Sri Lanka.

The total now is 45 children who died (in the series of blasts in Sri Lanka),” said UNICEF spokesman Christophe Boulierac at a briefing here.

Many are wounded and are now fighting for their lives in intensive care units across the country,” said Boulierac.

UNICEF condemns this violence in the strongest possible terms. No child should experience such a heart-breaking situation, and no parents should lose their child forever under such horrible circumstances,” he said.

According to him, 27 children died and 10 children were injured as a result of the blast that occurred in St Sebastian’s Church in Katuwapitiya, Negombo.

In Batticaloa, 13 children lost their lives, with the youngest victim just 18 months old and five children aged between 7 years and 16 years are receiving treatment in hospital.

Five children of foreign nationality are confirmed to have died, and 20 children have been admitted to hospital in Colombo, four of them in intensive care as a result of the blasts in Colombo.

Many children have lost one or both parents and countless children have witnessed shocking and senseless violence,” said Boulierac.

Some hospitals where children were admitted need essential medical supplies and UNICEF is procuring and providing needed supplies.

UNICEF said children separated from parents need support to identify relatives and connect with their families.

Psycho-social support and counseling are also identified as a significant need, and UNICEF said this week it would provide psycho-social first aid” to children and their families impacted.

UNICEF expressed its deepest sympathy to the victims, families, and communities impacted by the brutal attacks” on the day of one of the biggest celebrations for Christian believers worldwide, in which 310 people have died so far, and more than 500 others injured.

-Agencies

Cardinal urges not to hold church services until further notice

April 24th, 2019

Courtesy Adaderana

Archbishop of Sri Lanka Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith has urged not to hold services at Catholic churches until further notice.

The Cardinal stated this during a press conference held today (24) following a discussion with the ambassadors of Muslim-majority countries in Sri Lanka.

He has also urged to work with peace considering the situation prevailing in the country.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith said that all parties should ensure that the Muslim community is not being harassed at this moment.


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