Sri Lanka attacks in bid to create Islamophobia?

Sri Lanka attacks in bid to create Islamophobia?

By: Hema Subramaniam

Anti-Muslim bigotry is a threat to all of us. In all major terrorist activity, the media and people quick to blame the Muslim community involvement in it. Sri Lanka blast is not spared from this speculation as well.

When the story broke across the mainstream news media, there was speculation on Muslim terrorist involvement across the social media and news reports.

Rohan Gunaratna, a Singapore-based security expert, said the Sri Lankan group is Daesh’s branch in Sri Lanka and perpetrators were known to have links to Sri Lankans who travelled to join the hardline group in Syria and Iraq.

Other security experts say they believe the attacks bore the hallmarks of militant groups Daesh or al Qaeda, citing the level of sophistication of the attacks.

Pakistani Christians and Muslims hold candles at a tribute to Sri Lankan bomb blast victims at the Sacred Heart Cathedral Church in Lahore on April 22, 2019. – The death toll from bomb blasts that ripped through churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka rose dramatically April 22 to 290 — including dozens of foreigners — as police announced new arrests over the country’s worst attacks for more than a decade. (Photo by ARIF ALI / AFP)

In a phone conversation with The Leaders Online, Governor of The Eastern Province, Government of Sri Lanka Mahamood Lebbe Alim Mohamed Hizbullah has dismissed allegations that National Thowheed Jamaat was responsible for the multiple bomb blast on Sunday.

Meanwhile, some Sri Lanka government officials on a contradicting statement on Monday said a little-known Islamist group that promotes a terrorist ideology in South Asia was responsible for the attacks.

In some of the news reports, Rajitha Senaratne, the health minister, called the group “a local organization” and said the suicide bombers appeared to be Sri Lankan citizens. “All are locals,” he said at a news conference on Monday.

But, he added, “there was an international network without which these attacks could not have succeeded.”

In a news release, Mr. Sirisena, the president, said that, according to Sri Lanka’s intelligence agencies, “there are international terrorist organizations behind these incidents.”

Sirisena in his latest tweet revealed conflicting information narrowing the terrorist activity to LTTE.

No one has publicly claimed responsibility for the bombings.

Most attacks were carried out by lone bombers, but two men targeted the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo. Two other bombings at a guesthouse and at the suspects’ apparent safe house remain under investigation.

Sri Lanka does not have much history of Islamist terrorism. The country is predominantly Buddhist, with significant Hindu, Muslim and Christian minorities.

One of the suicide bombers who blew himself up in an attack last Sunday had been a suspect who was arrested a few months ago in connection with an incident in Mawanella in which Buddha statues were damaged, Highways Minister Kabir Hashim said at a press conference held today.

“One of my security officers was attacked in the incident. A few suspects were arrested and some of them were released later. It was found that one of them had been the suicide bomber of an attack that took place last Sunday. I am in the process of receiving more information on this,” he said.

Six more individuals including Singer Amal Perera who were arrested along with notorious drug kingpin Makandure Madush in Dubai were deported this morning, police spokesman SP Ruwan Gunasekera said.

He said the suspects were detained by the CID on their arrival at the Bandaranaike International Airport this morning for questioning.

Investigations are still on-going and it’s still too early to place the blame on any community or organisation based on all the conflicting information we receive. However, this entire tragedy is deemed barbaric, cruel and inhumane by all quarters of human race.

A woman cries during a funeral for bomb blast victims at St Sebastian’s Church in Negombo on April 23, 2019, two days after a series of bomb attacks targeting churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka. – Sri Lanka began a day of national mourning on April 23 with three minutes of silence to honour nearly 300 people killed in suicide bomb blasts that have been blamed on a local Islamist group. (Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP)

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe tweeted early Tuesday morning, saying that the country grieved as one.

“Today as a nation we mourn the senseless loss of innocent lives this past Easter Sunday,” he tweeted, spelling out his gratitude for the emergency and security forces who responded to the multiple bombings that tore through three churches, three luxury hotels, and two other locations.

He added that it “is imperative that we remain unified as Sri Lankans in the face of this unspeakable tragedy.”

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