Jihadists Arrested for Sri Lanka Attacks: Govt Was Warned, Alert Went Unheeded.
After the Sri Lanka Easter attacks, the government has made it official: they are blaming an Islamist militant group for executing the Easter attacks on churches and luxury hotels that killed at least 290 people and wounded almost 500. Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne revealed that ten days ago, warnings about a possible attack were issued from a “friendly government,” but promptly ignored.
The friendly government may have been India.
The group, National Thowfeek Jamaath is an Islamic extremist group and one of their members, a frequent speaker named Moulvi Zahran Hashim is implicated as the “mastermind” in the bombings. He was known for statements like “Anyone who disagrees with Muslims should be killed.” No one paid any attention to that, either.
But experts are saying that the bombings are likely connected to more jihadist networks outside of Sri Lanka. At least 24 people have been arrested so far. The Islamist group also may have members connected to Syria returnees.
Why did the warning go unheeded? The government admitted the mistake, and issued an apology to the victims and families. Small comfort.
Lawrence Sellin, a retired Army Colonel well versed in the region, tweeted: “Could this be the source of the intelligence failure? PM not told? National security & intelligence is under President Maithripala Sirisena & tensions between him & PM Wickremesinghe are high. Last October, Sirisena attempted to sack Wickremesinghe as PM.”
Political games at the expense of citizens appears to be an international problem. Security patrols along the Sri Lankan coastline have been increased and police protection given to various churches in the wake of the attacks.
We spend hours exposing extremists every day. This video & its background went unnoticed due to language barriers. If he was exposed & brought to the attention of the authorities, he could’ve been stopped.#SriLanka terrorist: “Anyone who disagrees with Muslims should be killed” pic.twitter.com/CVyybRPd3Y— Imam Mohamad Tawhidi (@Imamofpeace) April 21, 2019
"The alleged suicide bomber & mastermind of the Shangri La hotel attack has been identified as an Islamic extremist imam, Moulvi Zahran Hashim. He was a prolific lecturer for National Tawheed Jamaath with a long history of racism and Islamic superiority."https://t.co/fOQPf9pcrL— Lawrence Sellin (@LawrenceSellin) April 22, 2019
The US State Department revised their travel advisory for Sri Lanka by saying that more attacks could come.
When police were told of a van that was parked on the street in Colombo for several days, they went to check it out. They found it packed with three bombs, and attempted to defuse them according to Fox. Instead, they detonated. Fortunately no one was killed in that explosion. Another large bomb was found on the road to the airport, but it was defused successfully.
It is unlikely that such a crop of coordinated attacks were “masterminded” by just one man. Logically, according to experts, it was probably a collective effort.
Featured photo: Moulvi Zahran Hashim (screenshot)