Were Pakistan-based jihadis behind Sri Lankan terror attacks?

Over 300 people have been killed and over 500 injured in one of the worst terror attacks in recent history that took place on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka. These terror attacks came after almost a decade of peace that returned to this island nation that had suffered over three decades of civil war and violence.

While a local jihadi organization – The National Thowheed Jamaat is suspected most analysts suspect links with external jihadi organizations, either ISIS or Al Qaeda. According to senior Sri Lankan officials “We do not believe these attacks were carried out by a group of people who were confined to this country. There was an international network without which these attacks could not have succeeded.”

There are many analysts who also suspect a link with Pakistan-based jihadi groups. Maldives, the island nation right next to Sri Lanka, has over the decades become deeply influenced by Saudi Wahhabi organizations and Pakistani jihadi groups especially Lashkar e Taiba.

The Pakistani security establishment has a long history of using Sri Lanka as a base for destabilizing India. In 2014 India alleged that a Pakistani official working at the Pakistan High Commission in Colombo “was playing a key role in planning terror strikes at the behest of ISI on the US and Israeli consulates in the southern part of India.  According to a news report “NIA had last month taken over the case which was earlier registered by Tamil Nadu Police in which a Sri Lanka national, Sakir Hussain, was arrested following a tip-off from the Intelligence Bureau (IB). Hussain was accused of having entered India with a mission to carry out reconnaissance of the US Consulate in Chennai and the Israeli Consulate in Bangalore.  The information under MLAT, which has been cleared for sending to Colombo through diplomatic channels, names Amir Zubair Consular (Visa) in the Pakistani Mission in Sri Lanka as the main conspirator who was involved in a conspiracy with some Lankan nationals for carrying out terror attacks on the two consulates, the sources said.”

The South Asian Against Terrorism and for Human Rights (SAATH) that comprises pro-democracy intellectuals and activists from Pakistan, “condemned the terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka and called for a region-wide effort to eliminate all terrorist groups.” The SAATH forum expressed “our deepest concern over the increasing violence in the region, which is exacerbated by the behaviour of some states in the region.” Further, they stated “We stand with Sri Lankan people in this hour of extreme human tragedy and urge all the regional governments to stick together and develop an effective framework to purge South Asian region of the scourge of terrorism and proxy war among the states.”

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