Stringer Asia Logo
Share on Google+
news of the day
in depth
Tracking footprints in Easter massacre
  • sri lanka bomb
    sri lanka bomb
This morning the Islamic State agency has finally claimed the Easter massacre in Sri Lanka, after the Sri Lanka government had blaimed the attack on a local group, the National Tawheed Jammat (NTJ) which is said to be associated with Al Qaida in Sri Lanka. Is claimed responsability after two days and, according to some analyst, the claim is not the most reliable one. The Colombo Gazette had reported in 2016 the continued attempts of Al Qaida to recruit cadres for Jihad in Syria. The Al Qaida trail leads, digging into the biography of some of the bombing organizers arrested by the Sri Lankan police, some of whom actually returned from jihad in Syria, to a couple of interesting things: repeated trips to Pakistan, studies at the International Islamic University, also in Pakistan, plus some members of the Thowheed Jamath arrested in India as a spy on behalf of ISI. Zahran Hashim, the suicide bomber of Shangri-La hotel in Colombo, more than to Islamic States is in fact linked to the pakistani Lashkar-i-Toiba. Not surprising, if you go back in time. In 2015 a report stated that in 2004 LeT contingents visited Sri Lanka and Maldives, disguised as social workers, to look for Jihadi recruits. Later, fighters from these areas have been found in LeT training camps in Punjab and in the tribal areas of KP. According to the same report, ISI was using LeT and one of its charitable wing, the Idara Khidmat-e-Khalq, as proxies to radicalise Sri Lankan Muslims. IKK has been added in 2006 on the Specially Designated Global Terrorist Designation of LeT by US Department of State. LeT was building bases in remote inland towns and East Coast. IKK claimed to have spent USD 290k in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Maldives post Tsunami. In 2010, during a Senate hearing, Commander of the US Pacific Command Admiral Robert Willard had also confirmed that LeT was expanding its bases, inter-alia, to Sri Lanka and Maldives. During the years, the presence of ISI in Sri Lanka has been also reported by both national and international press. Sri Lankan Daily Ceylon Today reported more than once that ISI was using LeT and IKK as proxies to radicalize Sri Lankan Muslims. And, according to the Sunday Guardian, several ISI officials visited Sri Lanka, often in disguise of tourists to help LeT in building safe zones. NTJ has been taking advantage of the seeds of radicalization, been sown for years by LeT/Idaarat Khidmat-Khalq, and has a number of associates and followers from Pakistan. Eastern Sri Lanka has most visible influence of Wahabism, especially in Katankudi area, and security experts had warned many times that the area could develop into an operational zone for LeT or likeminded Jihadi groups. In fact Jamaat-ud-Dawa's charity front FIF advertised in 2016 its presence in Sri Lanka apart from its activities in other conflict theatres like Syria, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Somalia. And the pattern of the recent attack is similar to what the LeT carried out in Mumbai (2008), involving hotels frequented by foreigners, combined with attacks on religious places. Even if you want to believe the IS trail, you'll find LeT's footprints. According to reports, at least 38 Sri Lankan youths have joined ISIS and one of them, Sharfaz Nilam Muhsin, has been killed in coalition attacks in Syria. Mohsin completed his LLB in Shariah Law from the International Islamic University in Pakistan. LeT terror footprints are not limited to Sri Lanka alone, but appear to be spreading also to neighbouring countries like Maldives. As per 2014 US Dept of State Country Report on Terrorism, the IKK has also been spearheading the radicalization in Maldives, the attempts for which also started post Tsunami. According to Maldivian Security agencies, more than 50 Maldivian youth have been trained in LeT camps. About 9 Maldivian terror suspects were arrested from South Waziristan, in Pakistan in 2009. Earlier Ibrahim Fauzee, another madivian national, was arrested in Karachi.
Francesca Marino