LAMA AL TAHER WRITES– Who was the mass murderer?
Despite ISIS taking credit for the gruesome Easter bombing on April 21, Colombo authorities continue to link the attack to the National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ), a radical Muslim group based in Sri Lanka. However, it is believed that NTJ operatives are suspected of having international ties as they viewed as incapable of completing such a deadly act on their own.
The group does have a history of involving itself in religious conflicts, as it was implicated in the vandalization of Buddhist statues in 2018. The NTJ’s ties to the attacks are also strengthened by reports that a foreign intelligence agency had warned the government of Sri Lanka of an imminent suicide bomber attack by the group.
The island nation of Sri Lanka continues to mourn, Among the churches and hotels targeted, the savage assault on the very idea of religious intolerance was further highlighted with the petrol bomb attack on a mosque later that night, followed by arson attacks on two shops owned by Muslims. There were fears that the attack could spark further communal violence between all three religious groups.
Ethnic and religious conflicts have plagued the island for decades, with Buddhist majority and Muslims being at odds with each other over the years. Christians who make up a mere 6% of the country’s 20 million population have also been targeted in the years past, but never to such a magnitude. Nearly all victims were Sri Lankan, many of them Christians attending Easter Mass, with some foreigners too. Minor attacks on Christians have never made international headlines as the space is dominated by hardline right-wing Buddhists and Muslims kerfuffles. But now these coordinated bombings have however brought Christians to the forefront of the religious divide.