The common terror link between Sri Lankan Easter blasts and Malegaon/ Samjhauta blasts in India

More than a decade apart, the sinister intent with which the attacks were carried out in India and Sri Lanka, and the perpetrator of crime in both the countries, are ostensibly the same. Whilst in India, the investigation was marred by religious overtures, Sri Lankan authorities seem to have taken a more heavy handed approach to prevent another carnage on their soil.

Zahran Hashim, the leader of the 8 member suicide attack team, who carried out the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka on April 20th 2019, was apparently radicalized in India. Before the attack, oft he would visit southern India with the assistance of drug smugglers and stay at a few places in northern Kerala and Karnataka. According to the Sri Lankan Army commander, Mahesh Senanayake, Hashim could have visited Kashmir too. This brings into picture the inextricable links the drug smugglers have with terrorism. This is called “Narco Terrorism”. The surge in supply of drugs and the simultaneous redemption of terrorists groups like Khalistanis in Punjab, is another example of how narco-terrorism works.

If one were to ruminate, Sri Lankan attacks bear semblance with many terrorist attacks on the Indian soil. Albeit, suicide bombings are a recent phenomenon. The sinister intentions behind the Sri Lankan bombings is reminiscent of the myriads of attacks in India, starting from Malegaon bombings in 2006 to Samjhauta express blasts in 2007, with Mumbai attacks on 26th Nov, 2008 being the grand finale.

The intentions:

Intention One: Radicalize the youth!

Many Muslims in Sri Lanka, who had come across Zahran Hashim’s videos on social media, had reported him to the police for attempting to radicalize the youth of the island country. This so because, not even during the darkest hours of Sri Lanka, when it was under the grip of terrorist organization LTTE, had the Muslims of the country ever shown any signs of radicalization. This is a trait that this community in India and Sri Lanka shared, and ergo terrorist organizations struggled to drop their roots here.

Malegaon, Samjhauta express blasts and Mumbai attacks were carried out with the intent to insert a wedge between the communities in India. The intelligence report by IB, Intelligence Bureau, released 4 months prior to the Mumbai blast, in the month of July 2008, is a proof to this. The intel report >>>>

The strategy to garner the support of Muslims in the sub-continent was—to indoctrinate them with a feeling that they were being oppressed, and that they were under attack. This was brought to fruition in India, by giving terrorist attacks a Hindu hue, and in Sri Lanka, the same purpose was achieved when the Muslim community came under attack, after the suicide blasts on Easter.

Malegaon bombings which took place in September, 2008, claimed 9 innocent lives, and led to the arrest of Hindu leader Pragya Thakur, and Lt Col Purohit of Army’s Military intelligence unit, subsequently. Ostensibly, the officer belonged to a Hindu group–Abhinav Bharat. During the investigation stage, it was found that the bombs used, were fitted on a bike. The style of attack was very similar to the bombings which happened just a few months prior to the Malegaon attack– Jaipur bombings (May 2008) and Ahmedabad bombings (July 2008), when bombs used in the attack, were fitted on bicycles.

Samjhauta express blast, is another example where few errors by the authorities may have lead to erroneous conclusions. To this date agencies have not been able to give a satisfactory reason as to why Azmat Ali, the man accused of placing the bomb in Samjhauta express was set free after mere 14 days of incarceration? This came to light after the first investigation officer, Gurdeep Singh’s, disclosure in 2017.

In defense of Abhinav Bharat, many officials have said that it was a fledgling organization and was not capable of carrying out sophisticated attacks. But once under the scanner, Abhinav Bharat was blamed for many attacks which were beyond its capability, like the bombing at a Muslim cemetery in Malegaon, which killed 40 innocent people, but this took place in early 2006– two years before the city was attacked again with a bike bomb in 2008. Initially, the banned terrorist group SIMI( students Islamic movement of India) was blamed for carrying out the attack but a charge sheet in 2013, blamed Abhinav Bharat for it. The point to be noted is Abhinav Bharat had just come into existence in the same year, 2006. So was it capable of carrying out  a high intensity blast immediately after its inception?

Mumbai attack carried out on 26th November 2008, was the final straw which exposed the sinister intentions with which India was attacked. LeT (Lashkar-E-Taiba) terrorist Abu Jindal had confessed that the organization wanted to give the attacks a Hindu hue, and ergo as deception, terrorists involved in the attack like Ajmal Kasab, were carrying fake Ids with Hindu names like Sameer Chaudhary, and wore saffron wristbands.

It might bewilder many that a terrorist organization would choose a complicated path, such as giving the attacks a saffron hue, when a simple blast and its claim should suffice to earn them an audience. At this point it is important to understand that terrorist attacks serve a much larger purpose for those involved in the attack.

Intention Two: Stall the progress of the country!

The intelligence report released in July 2008 by Intelligence Bureau of India had mentioned that the terrorist organization wanted to whittle down the progress of India. One glance at the Sri Lanka is enough to surmise that the island country too, was attacked with the same intention. It’s a well-known fact, that terrorist organizations use religion to merely radicalize its foot soldiers, but in reality it works as a hired goon for its customers. A country like Sri Lanka, the economy of which is excessively dependent on tourism, faces flak when it comes under a terrorist attack. The number of tourists visiting the country might dwindle, crippling its economy. Now compare this with the fact that the city of Jaipur, one of the most popular tourist destinations in India, had come under attack in 2008;  Kashmir valley, which was well known tourist hub and just as famous as Agra till late 80’s, is now infelicitous for the incessant terrorists attacks; India’s financial hub, Mumbai, was attacked repeatedly by the terrorists. In all these cases intention of carrying out terrorist attack was same—to stall the economy’s progress.

The perpetrators

It is the transnational linkages of terrorist groups that prove the intentions behind its attacks. For example, Kerala born IT professional, Sarfaraz Nawaz, an LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba) operator involved in Karnataka blasts of 2008, had confessed that he had many accomplices in Pakistan, GCC, Bangladesh and even in Maldives.But the interesting morsel of information is that he had joined SIMI, as a student.

Myriads of students who join SIMI visit Pakistan’s terrorist training camps run by LeT( Lashkar-e-Taiba), JeM (Jaish-e-Mohammad) and HuJI ( Harkat ul-Jihad-e-Islami). Add to this that terrorists like Dawood Ibrahim, who was part of many terrorist attacks on Indian soil like the Mumbai blasts of 1993, and Masood Azhar, who masterminded Mumbai attacks of 2008, find a safe haven in Pakistan. It is then no coincidence that Dawood Ibrahim’s close aid Makaundre Madush, a druglord, was the one pumping money into the ISIS training camp at Lacktowatta, Sri lanka. ISIS has now claimed responsibility for the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka.

The web of terrorism is prolly too complicated for a common man to comprehend. But a bird’s eye view is all that is needed to understand that there’s a common link between the many terrorist attacks carried out in India and Sri Lanka.

This article is written by Levina

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SatyaVijayi