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Sri Lanka fails to nab the real culprit behind Easter Sunday carnage

Sri Lankan government, Moulavi Naufer, Nilantha Jayawardena, Islamic State, State Intelligence Service, Abu Hind

Counterterrorism

Sri Lanka fails to nab the real culprit behind Easter Sunday carnage

Sri Lankan government is making frantic bid in letting people believe it has already identified the mastermind behind the heinous Easter Sunday carnage. According to official version, Moulavi Naufer, who currently is in custody had introduced Islamic State (ISIS) ideology in Sri Lanka. But Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is yet to digest this official claim. In my opinion, although Naufer has been one of the many spreaders of ISIS ideology in the country, he certainly is not the mastermind, Instead, he was under Zahran Hashim and it is not possible that Zahran took part in a suicide attack at the behest of Moulavi Naufer. Anyone would give ditto to a commentary of The Island, where the newspaper said: “Would Zahran have put in place a terror network complete with stockpiles of arms, ammunition and explosives, funds, brainwashed cadres ready to explode themselves, and, most of all, indoctrinated children, if his goal had been to carry out a series of attacks and perish therein?”   

Sri Lankan authorities should further investigate the case before drawing a quick conclusion by portraying Naufer as the mastermind.

According to Nilantha Jayawardena, Head of the State Intelligence Service (SIS) in his testimony quotes an unnamed international expert on terrorism as having said that Zahran had reposed trust in a person named Abu Hind, who claimed to be the regional representative of the ISIS, and the latter had been in touch with Zahran’s brother Rilwan, and Naufer; the intelligence Jayewardene received was from Abu Hind, who was a character created by a section of a provincial intelligence apparatus of India; the operatives of this intelligence outfit operate on social media pretending to be Islamic State figures, and they are trained to run ‘virtual persona’. Thus, it is possible that Zahran was swayed by Abu Hind’s influence. Did ‘Abu Hind’ have Zahran carry out the terror attacks, claiming that orders had come from the ISIS? Did any foreign intelligence outfit use ‘Abu Hind’ and his organization to make Zahran launch the Easter Sunday attacks?

The most unfortunately and outrageous claim was made by Rauf Hakeem, a former Justice Minister who told the Sri Lankan parliament on May 20, 2021 that “Israeli intelligence had been behind the Eastern Sunday attacks”. Hakeem’s conspiracy theory may have some ulterior motive, or it may be one of the most common tactics of the Islamists in hiding the notoriety of Islamic State or other radical Islamic militancy outfits by falsely putting the blame on Israel or any other non-Muslim nation. There is reason to ask, if Hakeem’s claim is supported by opinion of the US government and FBI. If not, Sri Lankan government should also now initiate investigation on the possible connections between its Muslim politicians and radical Islamic militancy outfits, including Islamic State. Some counterterrorism experts in Sri Lanka say, FBI has record of making bids of saving terrorists like LTTE kingpin Prabhakaran, and Colombo should not blindly believe what the US intelligence agencies say.

According to The Island, Sri Lankan government does not want any more problems to contend with on the diplomatic front, and, therefore, has chosen to lay all sins on Naufer, who however has to be brought to justice for his involvement in the carnage.

One of the key questions, none of the Sri Lankans are asking is – why President Sirisena and his administration did not take immediate steps, when they had intelligence reports about a possible terrorist attacks, weeks before the Easter Sunday carnage.

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An internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, research-scholar, counter-terrorism specialist, and editor of Blitz. Follow his on Twitter Salah_Shoaib

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