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Sri Lanka attacks claimed by IS – toll rises to 321 with 13 Indians

Apr 24, 2019

Sri Lanka attacks claimed by IS – toll rises to 321 with 13 Indians
Sri Lanka attacks claimed by IS – toll rises to 321 with 13 Indians | Photography: Thejerusalempost

The suicide bombing at various places in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday has shaken the entire world. For a country that is still grappling with the effects of the Civil War that ended just over a decade ago, this comes as a big blow. But, looking at the larger picture, these attacks point out to a larger malfunction in the fabric of humanity. Following the Christchurch shootings just a few months ago, this year has already seen some horrific acts of violence and it is disturbing to say the least.

As hundreds of victims are laid to rest in Sri Lanka with bulldozers digging graves, the Islamic State has claimed the attack and has boasted about their involvement. A video footage of a suspected bomber has also been circulated on the Internet. 

The Sri Lankan man in the video is a supposed extremist-preacher who leads other loyalists of the Islamic State in the country.

The video was released through the Islamic State’s news agency. All this activity from the Islamic States despite the destruction of its supposed Middle East caliphate comes as a source of disturbance to countries across the world. Although the man in the video has not been responsible for any major violence previously, reports from India and the US suggest that the man has been a suspected online recruiter for the Islamic State and could have radicalised others.

The man in the video has been closely monitored by the Indian intelligence, especially after discovering an Islamic State cell in southern India in 2018. He is supposed to have frequently travelled to India and used YouTube to preach extremist ideologies.  Although he did not have many people around him in the real-world, he is said to have found an audience on YouTube where he talks about how he believes Muslims have the right to kill non-Muslims. It is by tracking his activities that Indian officials had warned Sri Lanka about imminent attacks.

The bombing happening despite intelligence warnings is a lapse on the part of the Sri Lankan government. President Maithripala Sirisena, in his national address, acknowledged this and said that there were intelligence reports regarding the attack. He said that he is at least partially responsible and expressed his sincere apologies. He also added that major changes will be made very soon. Speculations are rife that many senior officials are in line for dismissal. As such, the government has been divided due to political differences in the recent past and this makes the situation even more vulnerable.

Counter terrorism experts have been commenting that it is hard to believe that the local radicals executed these bombings without help from international terrorist groups. Many intelligence agencies are investigating the involvement of other groups in this attack. It is suspected that the arms and the explosives are likely to have been brought into Sri Lanka secretly through smuggler boats.

Meanwhile, as the death count rises to over 320, religious disturbance is growing in Sri Lanka with many Christians turning to violence by pelting stones and exhibiting hatred towards Muslims. Christians are a religious minority in Sri Lanka and becoming the target of such violence is a major blow to their safety. 

The Sri Lankan government and forces have the task of ensuring that no further acts of violence take place in Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the attacks.

Religion is a personal belief. Turning it into a weapon for destruction does not make sense from the context of any religion in the world. Moreover, almost every religion is built on the basic principle that human beings should not harm others. We have to realise this and learn to respect each other’s religious ideologies while holding onto our own. Otherwise, the threat is not just to countries or religions; it is for the whole of humanity. It is high time that we, as a society, thought about the cause of religious hatred and make efforts to root it out before it wipes all of us off this planet.