International manoeuvres Sri Lanka must not become a victim
Posted on May 26th, 2019

By Sugeeswara Senadhira Courtesy Ceylon Today

Sri Lanka, struggling back to its feet following one of Asia’s deadliest terrorist attacks in years, is still wondering why this serene Island-Nation became the target of Islamic terrorists. The country did not get any breathing space after the Easter Sunday terrorist attack that claimed over 250 lives, including nearly 40 foreign nationals, and Colombo became the most sought after place for international intelligence agencies from every part of the globe.

It has already been established that a local Islamist extremist group called the National Thowheed Jama’ath (NTJ) was behind the deadly suicide bomb attacks. It has also been verified that the NTJ was linked to international Islamist terrorists.

The terrorist group, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for the bomb attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. This was claimed by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed Caliph of Islamic State. In a bulletin posted by its Amaq News Agency, ISIS said: The perpetrators of the attack that targeted nationals of the countries of the coalitions and Christians in Sri Lanka before yesterday are fighters from the Islamic State.”

There are strong indicators that the perpetrators of Islamist terrorism carefully selected anti-Western targets for the Easter Sunday attacks. In the recent past, there was a marked increase in anti-Western attacks in the West as well as the non-Western Nations. In recent years, Middle Eastern jihadis have been too preoccupied with local conflicts in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen to head elsewhere. The pull of the Islamic State, meanwhile, has faded after its almost total defeat in Iraq and Syria. Losing of the ISIS territory, including the strongholds in Syria, was a deadly blow to ISIS. 

Hence, there was an urgent requirement for ISIS to show the world, especially to its widespread support base of militant cadres that the organisation is still a force to reckon with. Experts on Islam terrorism were of the unanimous opinion that targets such as Indonesia, Turkey, Egypt, and Sri Lanka were selected purely for that purpose.

Middle East wars

Experts on Islamic terrorism say the wars in the Middle East have transformed militants from Russian-speaking areas, who previously focused on fighting repressive governments at home, into global terrorist movement. By 2017, at least 8,500 fighters from former Soviet republics had flocked to Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic State. That experience gave many of these jihadis their first taste battling US and NATO troops, and it left them looking for vengeance, convinced that future operations should be aimed at the West.

Anthony Cordesman of Center for Strategic and International Studies said it is far too easy to focus on individual acts of terrorism and extremism, and ignore the global patterns in such violence. He has listed a wide range of indicators that help quantify and explain the patterns of these attacks. They include the fact that relationships between extremist and terrorist movements and the reasons for the rejection of such movements by the vast majority of Muslims, and the critical role that Muslim States play as strategic partners in the fight against such movements.

For decades, officials have focused on attacks launched by Middle Easterners. Today, however, the real threat increasingly comes from further East. The threat posed by Middle Eastern terrorists has been shrinking for some time.

One expert opined that it is easy to avoid analysing the links between extremist violence and Islam in order to be politically correct or to avoid provoking Muslims and the governments of largely Muslim States. The end result is to ignore the reality that most extremist and terrorist violence does occur in largely Muslim States, although it overwhelmingly consists of attacks by Muslim extremists on fellow Muslims, and not some clash between civilisations.

Some analysts are of the view that as the persecution of Muslims in Asia grows, so do opportunities for grievances to turn international. Such persecutions and episodes of defeat of Muslim groups by Israelis help the extremist groups to recruit young and vulnerable Muslim youth. One analyst who was in Bangladesh said there were at least two separate groups providing religious aid in Muslim Rohingya refugee camps. Such contact could boost the capabilities of local jihadis already conducting anti-Western operations in the area, including those who stormed a bakery in Dhaka that was popular with expatriates. And it may win more Rohingya over to the idea that they’re involved in a global struggle for Islam, not just a local fight for their own survival.

Eric Rosand

The well-known expert on Islamist terrorism, Eric Rosand said that the West and its allies need to recognise that future attacks are more likely to come from the East than the Middle East and that there is no other option than to cooperate with other countries to stop them. If the United States fails to do so, it could soon see the effects in either a surge of attacks on the United States or the rise of a new post-Soviet-dominated terrorist group in one of the world’s many war zones, he warned.

The post-Easter days show many intelligence experts from the West as well as other parts of the world embarking to assist Sri Lanka to fight Islamist terrorism.” The members of intelligence services of many countries are involved in the investigations. Whole lot of others from India, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, and China are in the new game of intelligence exchanges to assist investigations.

While, Sri Lanka, as a developing Nation with limited resources, should welcome the support extended by friendly countries to combat this horrifying threat of international Islamist terrorism, one has to be extremely cautious of hidden agendas of some countries. It is a well-known fact that there are serious differences of Shia Muslim Nations and Sunni Muslim countries. 

Furthermore, some countries are in alliance with Western Powers to crush Islamist militants in some of the Muslim-majority countries. Sri Lanka should take every possible precaution not to become a cat’s paw in this power struggle among Islamic countries themselves, with overt or covert support from superpowers.

2 Responses to “International manoeuvres Sri Lanka must not become a victim”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    I don’t think Sri Lanka will succeed for the following reasons.

    1. SL minorities have aligned with their motherlands. Tamils are with India and Muslims are with Saudi Arabia led Muslim countries. CUlturally, religiously and politically their umbilical codes are to these countries and not to Sri Lanka.

    This cannot be changed.

    2. Executive presidency has weakened Sri Lanka as all EPs depend on minorities. Some are even connected to US citizens.

    3. All major superpowers – USA (#1 by defence spend), China (#2 by defence spend), Saudi Arabia (#3 by defence spend) and India (#6 by defence spend but soon to be #4) are after a military base in the island. This is a very strange case where such a large number of world’s top superpowers are into one nation!

    USA and NATO are Sri Lanka’s largest export destination.
    China is Sri Lanka’s largest donor and development partner.
    Saudi and its kingdoms are Sri Lanka’s largest forex providers.
    India is Sri Lanka’s largest import source.

    Therefore they can choke Sri Lanka economically if we refuse to allow their military bases.

    4. They want their bases to be safe. For this they want mono-ethnic regions within which their bases will come up. For instance, India doesn’t want pro-Saudi/Pakistani/China people around its base. The same goes for others. China doesn’t want Indians around its bases and USA/Saudi don’t want pro-Chinese or pro-Indian people around their bases.

    This requires them to divide the island into mono-ethnic enclaves whether we like it or not.

    5. Sri Lanka must immediately abolish executive presidency and later remove the PR system of elections. Provincial councils must be abrogated or provincial boundaries must be re-demarcated frustrating division plans. One official language must be introduced to unify the island nation.

    6. At the same time, Sinhalas must have a Plan B. If superpowers with the help of the UN and very strong support by minorities split the island into three or two, Sinhalese must make sure they get their fair share (75% of the land) and no future separatist enclaves are left behind (a peaceful relocation agreement must be implemented throughout the island).

    Having a Plan B does not mean we support or expect it. Having lifeboats doesn’t mean the ship will sink or having lifejackets doesn’t mean the plane will crash. It is lunatic not to have a lifeboat particularly in a nation that is supposed to believe the four noble truths including impermanancy.

  2. aloy Says:

    It is naive to think that US will invade SL. They already have troubles at home, with North Korea, Venezuela and Middle East. They will not want another Vietnam like situation here. There is a technological war going on between China and US. That is about trade and mostly about 5G. They will soon resolve that matter as Trump cannot face another election with a weakened economy. So, unless the unpatriotic party offer the country on a platter that would not happen.
    Only thing we should not allow our country become subservient to India. They will play all the tricks in the trade to weaken us as much as possible. To face that we must have a fearless leadership; not the type that will leave the country to attend the emperor’s coronation when the powerful clergy is protesting about no action about the 21/4 massacre. What ever it is the next couple of weeks will decide which way it will head.

    Do not forget that this country has survived much bigger disasters in its 2600 year history and that there are some powers protecting it.

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