Thu. Nov 26th, 2020

EASTER SUNDAY BOMB BLASTS

There is speculation that Western intelligence agencies had a hand in the well-coordinated, precision-timed Easter suicide bombings in Sri Lanka, said Lasanda Kurukulasuriya.  How otherwise could a little-known group, ‘National Thawheed Jamaath’    have orchestrated such a feat.

The Easter bomb attacks in Sri Lanka  are a part of  a series of puzzling attacks by little-known terror outfits , taking place in several countries, said Lasanda. But  there is one common factor. All the countries facing such attacks have been states benefiting from China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). They include  Myanmar, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

In Myanmar in 2017 a little-known terrorist group called the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) staged attacks on security posts in Rakhine state, sparking a crackdown on the Rohingya community. Rakhine state is home to Sittwe port and a starting point of BRI projects linking Myanmar with China’s Kunming city. The leader of ARSA is said to be  a Rohingya born in Pakistan and raised in Saudi Arabia.

The Philippines, whose President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016 threatened to ditch its longtime military alliance with the US and turn to China, faced an attack by ISIS terrorists in 2017  in Marawi, helping USA to further consolidate their military presence.

Five people were killed in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, in   June 2019  in an attack on a star class hotel located near the port of Gwadar, which is being modernized under China’s BRI. Baluch separatists claimed responsibility. Thereafter Baluch Liberation Army carried out a dozen attacks in 2018 against Chinese-linked projects. In November, the group attacked a Chinese consulate in Karachi.

All these attacks had some sort of  link to ISIS. ISIS  sudden appearance everywhere China is attempting to do business,  fits Washington’s use of extremism to manipulate  situations wherever its standing armies cannot afford to intervene.  Also, such attacks offer an entry-point for Western-sponsored counter-terrorism activity or humanitarian assistance, said Lasanda.

ISIS, like Al Qaeda before it, is a creation of the  US intelligence agencies. There is ample evidence in defence related research papers, to prove that ISIS was created, sponsored and used by US secret agencies in pursuing the US foreign policy.  It was used to intervene  in countries of strategic importance.  The  interventions were for regime change, weakening the state, disintegration of society and finally invasion/occupation by US army, said K.M.Wasantha Bandara.

The targeting of Sri Lanka was  therefore not surprising. Two of the sea-front hotels that came under April attacks, Shangri La and Kingsbury, overlooked the $1.4 billion Port City project, China’s single biggest infrastructure investment in Sri Lanka. 

Analysts also observed that when US Secretary of State Pompeo visited in October 2020, he made a special visit to St Anthony’s church, Kochchikade, one of the churches affected by the bomb blast, and said that the bomb blast was the work of ISIS.

Soon after the bomb attacks, Western intelligence agencies rushed in to assist in the investigations. A team from the Federal Investigation Bureau (FBI) of the United States  arrived in Sri Lanka  on  April 23, two days after the bomb blast,  to assist in the investigations.  Britain sent in ten or twelve Mi-5 (intelligence) personnel. There were over  40 such foreign personnel in Sri Lanka altogether, said Wimal Weerawansa in Parliament.

The FBI team came reportedly at the invitation of the Government of Sri Lanka. All the foreign agencies worked along with the CID. They did so on our request,” said Police spokesperson, SP Ruwan Gunasekera. But President Sirisena said we did not invite them. They came on their own. My people are complaining that they cannot go ahead with their work since each group is asking them for briefings”.

 No information has been revealed, to date, on the work carried out by the foreign agencies (said to be ‘technical’ assistance) or on how these inputs assisted the CID in its probe, observed Lasanda .

An unnamed US embassy official reportedly told a group of journalists that the FBI assisted in analyzing the suicide bombers’ phone data, continued Lasanda. There is reason to believe however that the FBI in fact REMOVED the suicide bombers phones and other devices at an early stage, pre-empting the retrieval of vital evidence by local investigators.  

All the bombers are dead. Their electronic devices have been taken away by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) which is helping the Lankans in the probe,” an Indian Home Ministry official told the Indian Express.  Unless the data from these devices is made available, little will be known of the bombers links” .  

This means that Sri Lankan investigators, and the rest of the world, will not  get to know what was recorded in those devices, that might have given a clue as to who the suicide bombers’ immediate handlers were, commented Lasanda.

The question then arises as to whether the Americans in fact sabotaged the investigation, under the pretext of assisting with forensic analysis of the phones and devices, calling it ‘technical assistance.’  

Asked whether the FBI had ‘taken away’ the bombers’ phones, Police Spokesman SP Ruwan Gunasekera  replied that he was ‘unable to give that information.’ He also did not say whether the Sri Lankan investigators  had the opportunity to analyze the devices before they were handed over to the FBI, and whether the devices had been returned, said Lasanda.

It is now very clear, and beyond any doubt that the US government is contemplating a military intervention in Sri Lanka, when  a suitable situation arises, said analysts. The Easter Sunday bomb explosions were planned  to provide such an opening.

The bombings, which targeted Catholic churches and 5-star tourist hotels,  came like a bolt from the blue. They devastated the peace and relative stability that prevailed in the island, observed Lasanda. The attacks were intended to bring the country to a standstill. The country did come to a brief stand still. Shops and schools were closed, all activities cancelled, people were asked to stay in their houses.

They also affected the economy . The attacks on hotels affected the tourist trade Hoteliers said they were heavily indebted to banks and would find it impossible to pay their dues.

Small and medium stakeholders in the industry, such as internal airlines, cabs , taxi and three-wheel drivers, tour guides , tour operators and those engaged in the sale of gem and jewellery to tourists,  small vegetable and fish suppliers to the hotels and restaurants, small shop owners, surfing board suppliers and supporting labour, helpers and material suppliers to the construction industry in the hotel sector, were  also affected.

According to the “Shock Doctrine” theory,  which we are told has been successfully tested by CIA, a massive shock exerted on a society through extreme violence will lead to a state of confusion and weakness which will help the US to walk in and  take over that country. The  concept  of ‘Shock Doctrine’ was applied to economic change, by its author, Naomi Klein, but it is far more applicable to political change.

When disasters take place, citizens are too emotionally and physically distracted by the  disasters to mount an effective resistance, and US will be able to  intervene, observed analysts.  If there are any more suicide bomb attacks or if wide spread communal violence could be instigated, the US Army will get the chance to enter the country, said critics. They could use R2P added others.

USA thought   that after the Easter attack there will be a more violence, extreme disorder and chaos. That did not happen. The security forces ignored President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe  and  acted fast. They possessed the necessary intelligence. The second set of bombs was prevented. Those bombers died at Senthamaru. Security forces then started to arrest those preparing for the third bomb blast.

Therefore,   these attacks did not create the anticipated ‘Shock’.  Instead there was remarkable resilience . There was   deep anger  and  a firm wish to see to that these attacks were not repeated.  An immediate message to this effect was sent to the Muslim community through a silent boycott of Muslim shops.

There was a short-lived spell of politically-instigated violence in the North Western Province and Gampaha district. Apart from this,  communal harmony was maintained. In a highly volatile situation where a religious minority had been targeted by extremists of another religious minority, the Sangha and the Catholic Church led by Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, head of the Catholic Church ensured that there was no religious rioting, observed Lasanda.

Cardinal  Malcolm Ranjith said openly  and repeatedly that foreign forces were behind the attacks, it was not a local development. He publicly and repeatedly asked for a proper inquiry into the bomb blasts.  It is only then that the truth will emerge.” The investigations conducted by the  Yahapalana  government are a sham”  he said.

Catholic MPs  Johnston Fernando, Nimal Lansa, Indika Anurudda, Sudarshini Fernandopulle, Sanath Nishantha and Arundika Fernando  wrote to the President, asking for a proper inquiry.

In this letter, they said that His Eminence Cardinal Ranjith  has mentioned on numerous occasions that neither he nor the Christian community has any faith in the manner investigations are carried out. Certain political leaders in the government  had provided political asylum to persons connected to  event.

The implication was that the Yahapalana government was also complicit in the bomb attacks. Since the Yahapalana government was seen as a puppet government of the US, this was possible.

One aspect of this event has been ignored. Mahinda Rajapaksa’s appointment as Prime Minister  in October 2018  was dismissed on the grounds that it went against Fundamental Rights. The appointment, was however,  perfectly legal.  Ranil Wickremesinghe had  to be freshly sworn in once  Rajapaksa was dismissed.

Now, if the Mahinda Rajapaksa government had been allowed to continue, then there would not have been an Easter Sunday bomb blast.  Mahinda Rajapaksa and Gotabhaya Rajapakse would have seen the significance of Mawanella, Vanatha villu and the Kattankudy  motor cycle . They would have responded promptly to the Indian alert. The Catholic Church would have been informed. Hotels would have been alerted.  It was observed that  civil society had been jubilant when Mahinda Rajapaksa was removed from the post of Prime Minister .

After the April Bomb explosions, there  were two other ‘clandestine US operations in Colombo’.   Soon after the April 21 bomb explosion two US government employees were detected at the Hilton Colombo Residencies with explosives detectors. Sniffer dogs had traced the equipment to their apartment, reported Island..

Thereafter, security staff at the Hilton Colombo had thwarted an attempt by five US government officials to check in along with six boxes on the night of July 30, 2019. The American delegation had declined to allow the security staff to scan the boxes. The US delegation had then handed over one of the six boxes for scanning and loaded the rest to a US embassy vehicle and moved them somewhere else.

Wimal Weerawansa    released visa photographs of the entire US team to the media, alleging the group had arrived in a private aircraft. The five-member team had left two days later without the controversial cargo. Weerawansa asked whether the boxes that were sent away in a US embassy vehicle were still in the country or spirited out when the team left for the Maldives. What  did those boxes contain.

These boxes had evaded checks at Customs too. Nagananda Kodituwakku sought information from Director General, Customs regarding the circumstances under which her officers exempted US military cargo from mandatory checks.

Former UPFA MP M.M. Zuhair commented: “The alleged refusal by six US nationals to subject five of their ‘mystery’ boxes to scanning and security clearance at the Bandaranaike International Airport and also later at Hilton Colombo Residences on 30 July 2019, warrants a credible investigation to ascertain the contents of the boxes and whether the US personnel were entitled to any privileges of non-disclosure.

“Nothing prevented the six US military personnel from subjecting their baggage to scanning even if they were accredited diplomats. Diplomatic bags containing diplomatic communications and correspondence are protected from being opened. Personal baggage of accredited diplomats cannot be used for smuggling prohibited or restricted goods, said Zuhair. (Continued)

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