Curiouser and curiouser
Posted on June 24th, 2019

Editorial Courtesy The Island

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe says the National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) threat has been effectively neutralised and all those who had links to NTJ leader Zahran have been arrested. He assures that the country is now safe. Curiously, he is striving to have the government’s controversial Counterterrorism Bill ratified in a bid to replace the existing Prevention of Terrorism Act; he believes that the country has had to tackle the problem of international terrorism and there should be new laws. He is confident that his government has the backing of foreign powers to ward off the ISIS threat.

How can anyone be so sure that the ISIS really had a hand in the Easter carnage? The Hindu has reported that the ISIS was initially unaware of the Easter Sunday attacks though it claimed the responsibility for them, later on. If it had ordered the bombings, it would have lost no time in claiming the responsibility.

Of the seven Easter Sunday blast sites, four were in Colombo and one in a suburb—the Kochchikade Church, Kingsbury, Cinnamon Grand, Shangri-La and a guesthouse in Dehiwala. The others were in Negombo and Batticaloa. There were eight explosions including two at Shangri-La, and five of the blast sties can be connected with a line, which extends from Dehiwala to Kochchikade, skirting the Colombo Port City. Why were there two blasts at Shangri-La? Had Zahran been instructed by the person or persons who handled him to make sure that it suffered extensive damage? Was that hotel the main target?

As for the Dehiwala blast, why on earth did the terrorist on a suicide mission, the planning of which must have taken months, blow himself up in an unknown location? It is being claimed in some quarters that he was the person sent to attack Taj Samudra, but he left the place, having failed to trigger an explosion three times, and blew himself up in Dehiwala. There is no such thing as a defective suicide jacket that fails to explode thrice and then goes off. Interestingly, on 29 April, Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith told the media that St. Mary’s Church, Dehiwala had been among the terrorist targets, but the bomber had abandoned his plan and blown himself up elsewhere in the same area.

Meanwhile, UPFA MP Dayasiri Jayasekera has gone on record as saying that the NTJ bomber assigned to attack Taj Samudra did not carry out the blast due to the presence of some highly connected persons there. The CID and the TID have not requested MP Jayasekera to name them. What one gathers from this statement by no less a person than SLFP General Secretary Jayasekera, a trusted lieutenant of President Maithripala Sirisena, who is the Defence Minister and the Commander-in-Chief, is that information about the identities of the persons he has stopped short of naming will throw fresh light on the terror attacks.

Let it be repeated that all Easter Sunday blasts, save the one in Batticaloa, were on the littoral between Dehiwala to Negombo. China’s string of pearls is known to one and all, and the terror attacks in Colombo looked like a ‘string of blasts’ around the Port City being built by the Chinese, who are also trying to attract investors.

If the ISIS has been behind the Easter attacks, then nobody can claim that the country is safe, for it does not believe in one-off attacks; there must be more sleeper cells. Was Zahran handled by some other external outfit though the ISIS has claimed the responsibility for the blasts? Spy ops can be stranger than fiction if one goes by the confessions made by former top spies like Victor Ostrovsky, who authored ‘By way of Deception’, an explosive chronicle of his work as a secret agent.

The police ought to explain why they have chosen to ignore MP Jayasekera’s aforesaid claim.

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