Sri Lanka Easter Terror Attacks – This Unknown Radical Islamist Group Had Help From “An International Network”

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Apr 22 2019
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At least 290 people were killed and more than 500 injured in one of the bloodiest terror attacks in Sri Lanka. Three churches and three luxury hotels were targeted in Colombo, the capital of the Buddhist-majority country that was at war for decades with ethnic minority Tamil separatists, violence that had largely ended about 10 years ago.


Seven suicide bombers took part in what appeared to be very well co-ordinated bombings. One of the suicide bombers waited patiently in a queue for the Easter Sunday breakfast buffet at Sri Lanka’s Cinnamon Grand hotel, before setting off explosives strapped to his back. He was identified as Mohamed Azzam Mohamed, a Sri Lankan.


Mohamed Azzam, who had registered at the hotel the night before the terror attacks using a false address, reportedly carrying a plate and was just about to be served when he set off his terror strike in the packed restaurant. A manager of the hotel said – “It was 8:30 am and it was busy. It was families. He came up to the top of the queue and set off the blast.”

Shangri-La Hotel Colombo Sri Lanka

Shangri-La Hotel Colombo Sri Lanka - Terror Attack

Two other hotels, the Shangri-La and the Kingsbury, were hit at about the same time, along with three churches packed with worshippers attending Easter Sunday services. Two suicide bombers blew themselves up at the luxury Shangri-La Hotel. One bomber each attacked Kingsbury hotel and St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo, St. Sebastian’s church in the city of Negombo and Zion Church in the city of Batticaloa.


Sri Lanka’s Minister of Tourism says at least 39 foreign tourists were killed while another 28 were wounded. Those killed included British, American, Turkish, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Danish, Dutch and Portuguese nationals. Denmark’s richest man Anders Holch Povlsen and his wife lost three of their four children in the attacks. Povlsen is the owner of fashion firm Bestseller, which includes brands like Vero Moda and Jack & Jones.


Even after the devastating terror attacks, the authorities were shocked when they found 87 detonators in the capital – 12 detonators scattered at Colombo’s main bus depot while another 75 detonators at a garbage dump in the same area. Explosive devices were also found on an access road to the international airport near Colombo.

Sri Lanka Terror Attacks - St. Anthony's Shrine

Sri Lanka Terror Attacks - Damaged Internal Church

The bombs were found by the Sri Lankan military as part of the task of clearing the route from Colombo airport late on Sunday in preparation for the return of President Sirisena from an overseas visit. Scores of people who were stranded overnight at the main airport have begun making their way home as an island-wide curfew was lifted earlier Monday.


So far, the Sri Lankan police have arrested 24 people in connection with the bombings. The government has blamed a local militant group – National Thowfeek Jamaath – as the terror group responsible for the Easter Sunday suicide bombings. However, the authorities also believe the little-known radical Islamist organization had help from “an international network”.


Although the National Thowfeek Jamaath has a reputation for vandalizing Buddhist statues, there was little history of them carries out terrorist attacks. Rajitha Senaratne, the health minister, said – “All suicide bombers are locals. But there was an international network (involvement) without which these attacks could not have succeeded.”

Sri Lanka Terror Attacks - Map

Still, the burning question was the lack of actions from the government, despite warnings to the security forces at least 10 days before the bombings that the radical Islamist group planned suicide attacks against churches. Top government officials claim the warning never reached them, suggesting there was a severe communication breakdown and intelligence failure.


The memo dated April 11 has emerged warning of a potential attack. One of the reasons that have contributed to the breakdown in intelligence sharing could be due to political tension between the Sri Lankan president and the prime minister, where both leaders do not see eye to eye. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said neither he nor his cabinet ministers had been informed of the warning.


The US State Department has issued a revised travel notice about Sri Lanka, warning that “terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Sri Lanka, dealing a blow to the tourism industry in the country. Could the coordinated massacre at churches and hotels in Sri Lanka an attempt by international terror groups such as ISIS to revive “Holy War” against non-Muslim around the world?

Islamic State - ISIS - Terrorists

Sri Lanka Terror Attacks - Intelligence Letter on Attack

ISIS supporters were quick to celebrate the Sri Lanka attacks as revenge for the military campaign that finally ended its open control of territory in Iraq and Syria, and for the massacre at at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, last month. Nevertheless, the scale of terror attacks in Sri Lanka requires months of preparation, well before the Christchurch massacre could be launched.


Regardless, the fact remains that a foreign intelligence agency has reported that the National Thowfeek Jamaath was planning to carry out suicide attacks targeting prominent churches as well as the Indian high commission in Colombo. And the U.S. intelligence has indicated that the attacks in Sri Lanka were inspired by ISIS, suggesting the slaughter was the work of radical Muslim extremists.


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