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SOUTH ASIA WATCH: Terrorist Attacks in Lanka

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Colombo, April 22, 2019 (Xinhua) -- Ambulances are seen outside a hospital in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 21, 2019. Sri Lankan Police said on Sunday that 13 people had been arrested over a series of blasts which killed 228 people across the island nation. (Xinhua/Samila/IANS) by .
Ambulances are seen outside a hospital in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka,

The bombers in Sri Lanka were of middle class background, echoing the attacks at the ‘Holey Artisan Bakery’ in Bangladesh. In that act of terrorism, all the terrorists were from middle or upper class backgrounds, and had been ‘well educated’….writes Mr. Kirpal Singh

Colombo, April 22, 2019 (Xinhua) -- Ambulances are seen outside a hospital in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 21, 2019. Sri Lankan Police said on Sunday that 13 people had been arrested over a series of blasts which killed 228 people across the island nation. (Xinhua/Samila/IANS) by .
Ambulances are seen outside a hospital in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka,

As Sri Lanka reels from the co-ordinated terrorist attack at the weekend, questions arise as to who and why? Before we delve into the attack, it would appear that members of the Sri Lankan government were aware of a potential attack with intelligence inputs from India and the United States. In fact a report submitted in early April by a member of the Sri Lankan security services provides further evidence of further attacks. That said, the current dysfunctional state of the government raises more questions of the true motives of the President Maithripala Sirisena, a man who denied having prior knowledge of the attack, despite being in charge of the Law and Order, and Defence. Perhaps, this was a clumsy attempt at trying to bring back Mahindra Rajapaske as the potential saviour? Who knows, what is evident is that a significant terrorist attack has taken place with a significant loss of life.

As security forces in the country keep the peace, a picture is emerging of revenge and retribution for the events in New Zealand, where 50 people were murdered in cold blood by a small town Australian non- religious fascist. In that act of terrorism, the individual in question had travelled extensively prior to the attack and researched his targets. The bombers in Sri Lanka were of middle class background, echoing the attacks at the ‘Holey Artisan Bakery’ in Bangladesh. In that act of terrorism, all the terrorists were from middle or upper class backgrounds, and had been ‘well educated’.

President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena. (File Photo: IANS) by .
President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena.

Interestingly a certain Zeeshan Usmani’s (in conjunction with George Washington University and Brookings Institute) research of the on line profiles of actual and potential ISIS recruits revealed that about 70% were from wealthy middle or upper class families. Their descent into extremism was essentially associated with listening to extremist preachers. Another recent study by Professor Bui of Queen Mary University of extremist viewpoints of British White and Pakistani communities in Blackburn, Bradford and Luton did not find a link with affluence. That said, the communities in these areas have a lot of social deprivation. A more interesting finding though was the association of extremist views with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

So aside from the blame game, one question does arise. Did these individuals who perpetrated the atrocities in Sri Lanka suffer with any mental illness that may have made them susceptible to extremist ideas? After all, to undertake such an act does take a certain amount of emotional numbing. Also if these individuals had some form of mental illness, were they targeted by extremists to do their bidding. The strategy for targeting the mentally ill/vulnerable is not new and has been used many times by those holding extremist views. Something which the UK appears to have realised recently with a revision of the ‘Prevent’ strategy to take account of extremism in all communities.

Colombo, April 21, 2019 (Xinhua) -- People gathered outside the Church of St. Anthony where the explosion occurred in Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 21, 2019. At least 50 people were killed and more than 100 others injured in multiple church and hotel blasts in Sri Lanka, police said on Sunday. (Xinhua/Tang Lu/IANS) by .
People gathered outside the Church of St. Anthony where the explosion occurred in Colombo, Sri Lanka. At least 50 people were killed and more than 100 others injured in multiple church and hotel blasts in Sri Lanka, police said on Sunday. (Xinhua/Tang Lu/IANS)

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