The Massive Bomb Attacks in Sri Lanka Remain Puzzling
April 22 (EIRNS)—Following the coordinated attack by seven suicide bombers on churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka yesterday that killed at least 290 people and wounded more than 500, the Sri Lankan government said today the Islamist group National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ) was behind the attacks. NTJ is believed to have split from Sri Lanka Thowheed Jamath (SLTJ), another hard-line group. SLTJ’s leader, Abdul Razik, was arrested in 2016. Hilmy Ahamed, vice president of the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka, said he warned military intelligence officials about the group and its leaders about three years ago. In addition, according to AFP, Sri Lankan police had reportedly issued a warning to top officials 10 days before the deadly blasts that wreaked havoc in the churches and hotels in multiple cities across the country.
Beyond that, why these deadly attacks took place, as well as the involvement of the Muslims, is puzzling. Less than 10% of Sri Lankans are Muslim and less than 8% are Christian. Muslims, who are poorer and located in a territory about 150 miles northeast of Colombo have no known support base inside the capital city. Muslims, who had provided hide-outs for the Tamil Tigers but never joined hands with the Tigers during the decades of civil war, had never been in conflict with the Christians, although some Buddhist fanatics had attacked and pillaged Muslim properties a few years ago. Under the circumstances, it is likely that the officials ignored the exigency and gravity of the warnings, since it is likely that they found no reason why any Sri Lankan Muslim would target the Sri Lankan Christians indiscriminately on Easter Sunday.
While failure of the Sri Lankan intelligence is self-evident, there were reports a couple of years ago of Saudi money coming to the Sri Lankan Muslims to counter the growing bilateral relations between Iran and Sri Lankan authorities. It was said then that the Saudis were encouraging the Sri Lankan Muslims to embrace the Saudis’ Wahhabism. In recent days, however, no further report of growing Saudi support appeared in the public domain.