Sri Lanka’s Easter Sunday Massacre: The ISIS Owns it, So What?


Sri Lankan security personnel walk past dead bodies covered with blankets amid blast debris at St. Anthony’s Shrine following an explosion in the church in Kochchikade in Colombo on April 21, 2019.More than 200 people were killed and at least 450 injured in bomb blasts that ripped through churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday.
AFP

by Taj Hashmi 28 April2019

Thanks to so many absurd and conflicting stories and claims by experts, laymen, victims and purported perpetrators, 9/11 gave birth to so many conspiracy theories, similarly, this Easter Sunday terror attacks in Sri Lanka on 20thApril have also brought us to the threshold of multiple claims and theories about who did them, and why! Interestingly, most of them sound pathetically subjective lies and half-truths. Throughout, moments after the horrid massacre of more 253 people (the new official figure, down from an earlier 359), most analysts and media outlets, especially Western, Indian, and Israeli ones started sculpting and chiseling “truths” only to blame some unknown, little known, and well-known Muslim or Islamist terror outfits for the attacks. 

The so-called ISIS claim, which came more than forty-eight hours after the attacks that they had been behind them, further embellished their arguments by taking the whole world to only one scenario, i.e. Muslims, inspired by Islam, were the perpetrators of these horrific terror attacks. However, those who understand Islamist terrorism – most importantly, those who are honest and objective – know it quite well it’s too early to fathom the mystery behind the attacks. The so-called or purported ISIS claim doesn’t fetch anything beyond a “so-what-moment” for them as it raises more questions rather than answering many, about the whole thing.

This insensitivity, if not prejudice against Muslims, reminds me of what leading newspapers and analysts in the US did on 19th April 1995, moments after Timothy McVeigh had bombed a Federal Government building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people. They just imputed the terror attack to some undefined, unknown Islamist terror outfit. This is another déjà vu moment for us! 

Now, where is the credible evidence to implicate Muslims for the latest terror attacks in Sri Lanka? What could be their possible motive? Can we really exonerate or keep some other suspects off the radar? Why should not we first finger point at countries or entities who do not like Sri Lanka flirting with China and allowing the latter to go ahead with its “String of Pearls” and the “Belt-Road” agenda in the country? Why should not we also suspect Sinhalese Buddhists who do not like Christians, Muslims, and Tamils? The world should not be told another hyped-up story about Islamist terrorism in Sri Lanka à la Oklahoma City bombing! By the way, one may pose the question to countries and media outlets who are now producing names and identities of “Muslim” terrorists behind the latest terror attacks in Sri Lanka: Since you knew the terrorists, why couldn’t you inform the Sri Lankan authorities before they killed so many people?

What one analyst has pointed out about the Sri Lankan government’s and Sinhalese-majority’s treatment of Christians and Muslims in the country is very pertinent to explain the latest attacks in the country (K.M. Seethi, “Colombo Carnage Ominous Signals”, Countercurrents, April 22, 2019):

In Sri Lanka, there were reports that some sections of the Buddhist majority were attempting to disrupt services in churches. The Sri Lankan Muslims, mainly of Moors, were also reported to have been attacked by the Buddhist sections from time to time…. Apparently, the Colombo attacks predominantly targeted Tamil Christians…. In 2018, there were more than 80 reported incidents of discrimination, threats and violence against Christians, says the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL), which represents more than 200 churches and other Christian organizations.In the current year also, the NCEASL recorded more than two dozen incidents, including one in which Buddhist monks reportedly attempted to interrupt a Sunday worship service.

It is disappointing but not surprising that countries and individuals took no time in pinpointing who had done these suicide bombings in churches and hotels. Toronto University professor Randy Boyagoda was one of the first to do so in the most unprofessional way. His New York Times op-ed (“The Tragic Familiarity of the Sri Lankan Bombings” April 21, 2019) singled out some unknown Muslims as the perpetrators. Although not Islamist but Tamil LTTE bombings had been the most “familiar” things in the realm of terrorism in Sri Lanka, the article seems quite subjective, both from its title and content. 

Soon afterwards, the Sri Lankan defence minister told his nation’s parliament that the attacks “were revenge for last month’s killings at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand”, which the New Zealand Prime Minister has rejected as baseless. Another unsubstantiated claim! He also put the blame on Sri Lanka’s National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ), a newly created tiny Islamist outfit in the country. The Minister’s balderdash seems to be his fig leaf to hide his government’s failure to prevent the attacks. Some of his compatriots imputed the attacks to the Jamiyathu Millahathu Ibrahim, another obscure Islamist outfit in the country. Now, if these tiny Islamist outfits are capable of orchestrating the attacks – so far as the largest in magnitude in the history of terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka – is the question! One wonders, the mysterious, decimated ISIS is still powerful enough to terrorise a distant island nation from its purported base in the Middle East! 

The ISIS has never been an independent terror outfit. As US General (Ret) Wesley Clark has asserted publicly that some very close US allies are behind the ISIS, hinting at Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. As al Qaeda is virtually a Frankenstein’s Monster of the West, as HAMAS is that of Israel, the ISIS is a different ballgame. It’s a Western false flag, a deceptive covert operation to bleed “non-compliant” countries in the Middle East, such as Syria, Iraq, and Iran. Since its decimation after the defeat of the US-sponsored forces in Syria and Iraq, it has a new sponsor in South Asia, which masterminded and executed the terror attacks in Sri Lanka, not with any religious but totally secular geopolitical motives. Thus, the so-called ISIS affirmation, which came two days after the attack, wasn’t totally unexpected. The masterminds of the attacks needed an alibi, and they produced this “affirmation”, albeit in somewhat unconvincing manner! 

While laymen and motivated/biased governments and media across the world have welcomed the so-called affirmation, experts who know the ISIS know what has happened to the outfit, and its genuinely committed fighters – who just dissipated and died in large numbers – after the collapse of the Islamic State. However, certain Indian government agencies – with or without the knowledge of Prime Minister Modi – have been playing a duplicitous role as a proxy for the ISIS, at least since 2017. Prominent Indian politician Digvijaya Singh, a former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh and General Secretary of the Congress Party tweeted this in 2017: “Telangana Police has set up a bogus ISIS site which is radicalising Muslim youths and encouraging them to become ISIS modules” (India Today, May 4, 2017). And, circumstantial evidence suggests that Mr Singh was possibly not lying. As media reports reveal India was the second big source for ISIS arms and ammunition, after Turkey during the heydays of the terrorist group, so we get from some recent reports that the explosives used in the recent attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka came from India.

One may, however, argue that since the ISIS in its webpage produced pictures of the nine suicide bombers who had died in the attacks, we don’t need to question the terror outfit’s involvement in the whole thing. So far, so good! Then again, we know who runs the “ISIS webpage”! Countries and individuals sometimes hire professional killers from terrorist organizations. As the Afghan Taliban have been doing it since long, letting drug lords hire their gunmen for protection, so did the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), at least on one occasion, during the Mumbai Attacks in November 2008. Fugitive Indian drug lord Dawood Ibrahim hired ten LeT gunmen to kill his own rivals in Mumbai. While two of them selectively killed only Dawood Ibrahim’s rivals, others did the indiscriminate killing, believing they were doing their “jihad”.

Renowned international affairs and security analyst Adam Garrie has convincingly debunked the theory that some obscure Islamist group like NTJ was behind the Sri Lanka attacks. Without resorting to innuendoes, he has singled out India’s hegemonic and intrusive foreign policy in countries like Sri Lanka. He believes Sri Lanka’s joining the Chinese Belt Road Initiative (BRI), and the growing Chinese influence in the country were the catalysts behind the attacks. He argues: 

Therefore, due to NTJ’s foreign links, it is highly likely that a foreign entity, most likely a foreign state or state intelligence agency was behind the attacks and that the men on the ground who have been captured are merely pawns in a much larger and even more dangerous game. When it comes to seeking to pin-point the country with a clear motive for orchestrating the attacks, India is the one that springs immediately to mind, not least because NTJ reportedly trains where the LTTE once did. India has a long history of seeking to manipulate the power balance in Sri Lanka in order to turn the country into something of an Indian protectorate [emphasis added] (“Sri Lankan Authorities May Have Fallen Into a Trap Set by a Foreign Power”, Eurasia.com, April 22, 2019). 

Countercurrents editor Binu Mathew has raised some interesting questions about the anomalies in Sri Lankan, Western, and Indian government and media reports in regards to the attacks, such as: why the intelligence warning which came on April 4 was ignored and even withheld according to Sri Lankan minister Lakshman Kiriella; it was India which gave the intelligence warning, as to how it got this information ahead of others; as to how India knew the names of the suicide bombers ten days ahead of the attacks; why little-known group National Thowheeth Jama’ath was named in the intelligence report; why ISIS which was not heard of in Sri Lanka claimed the responsibility after three days of the terrorist attacks; how ISIS which was decimated in the Middle East managed to carry out such a massive coordinated attacks in Sri Lanka where it did not have any strategic interest; why the persecuted Muslim minority in Sri Lanka carried out a terrorist attack on another minority group; and who would benefit from the attacks (“10 Questions on Sri Lanka Easter Day Bombings?”, Countercurrents, April 24, 2019). 

To conclude, the so-called ISIS affirmation doesn’t prove the Sri Lanka attacks were an Islamist backlash to the agents of “Western Crusaders” in tiny Sri Lanka. They simply reflect Indian hegemonic designs in the neighbourhood with tacit support from the West and its allies across the Asia-Pacific region. This false flag operation in Sri Lanka is least likely to be the last “ISIS Attack” in the country. And, countries in the region also enthused over the BRI, such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Iran should brace themselves for similar attacks. Debunking the myth of ISIS as a threat to them is a step toward that direction.

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