ISIS attacks in Sri Lanka

The terrorists targeted worshippers who were celebrating Easter in churches.
Sunday 28/04/2019
Sri Lankan Navy soldiers work to clean St. Anthony's Shrine in Colombo on April 27, 2019. (AFP)
Sri Lankan Navy soldiers work to clean St. Anthony's Shrine in Colombo on April 27, 2019. (AFP)

Sri Lanka’s Easter blasts illustrate once more the horror of terrorism and the dangers it poses to humanity. The human toll stood at more than 250 killed and 500 injured.

The details of the terrorist operation, which included nine blasts involving six bombings targeting churches and luxury hotels, betrayed a high degree of sophistication attributed to the support of international terrorist organisations.

Three days after the attacks, the Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the blasts.

A local pro-ISIS group, National Towheed Jamaat (NTJ), was identified as having executed the attacks. Victims of the attacks were in their majority Sri Lankan but those killed were of various religions and nationalities.

In conformity with the hate-filled and totalitarian vision of ISIS, the terrorists targeted worshippers who were celebrating Easter in churches. In the same way, ISIS terrorists have singled out people of different faiths for death and enslavement in parts of the Middle East. In 2018, ISIS claimed responsibility for suicide attacks on churches in Indonesia and the Philippines. Reflecting a similar mindset, last December, NTJ’s fanatical members used hammers to damage Buddhist statues.

The terrorist acts and the accompanying images of blood-spattered church walls were all the more shocking in that they were allegedly perpetrated in retaliation for the March 15 terrorist attacks against mosques in New Zealand. By claiming to defend Islam, the suicide bombers only terribly stained its image.

Sri Lanka’s Muslim minority should not suffer a backlash in this country with a tradition of domestic strife. Nor should the country’s vital tourist industry be allowed to be destroyed by the murderous acts.

After Sri Lanka and New Zealand, no place in the world is immune from this type of terrorism. It is less the logistics and the recruitment tactics than the distorted idea of Islam that creates the jihadists’ draw. The incendiary speeches of NTJ’s Zahran Hashim, who was killed in the bombings, were attracting recruits on social media well before the attacks.

Whether targeting Christians in the Philippines, Yazidis in Iraq or Muslims in New Zealand, terrorists are not representative of any religion. They are a global scourge that requires a better coordinated global effort to combat and prevent.

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