What Is Nationwide Thowheeth Jama’ath? Suspicion Falls on Sri Lanka Islamic Group


Because the authorities examine the bombings in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, their focus has centered on Nationwide Thowheeth Jama’ath, a little-known group that specialists mentioned promotes Islamic terrorist ideology.

Nobody has claimed duty for the suicide assaults, which killed at the least 290 folks, and the Sri Lankan authorities have thus far not recognized any group as being behind them, at the same time as they’ve arrested two dozen suspects.

However 10 days earlier than the assaults, a police official despatched an advisory to the safety authorities warning of a attainable risk to church buildings by Nationwide Thowheeth Jama’ath.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe mentioned on Sunday that he and different prime authorities officers had not been knowledgeable of the risk, and that “we should look into why ample precautions weren’t taken.”

Till now, Nationwide Thowheeth Jama’ath was identified primarily in Sri Lanka for vandalizing Buddhist statues. In 2016, its secretary, Abdul Razik, was arrested on expenses of inciting racism.

However whereas Sri Lanka, an island nation within the Indian Ocean, was ravaged by a long time of civil battle that led to 2009, it has little historical past of militant Islamist violence.

In that internecine battle, the Sri Lankan authorities, largely led by a Buddhist elite, put down a rebel by ethnic Tamils, who’re primarily Hindu but in addition embody Muslims and Christians.

The objective of Nationwide Thowheeth Jama’ath shouldn’t be revolt, mentioned Anne Speckhard, the director of the Worldwide Heart for the Research of Violent Extremism. As a substitute, it goals to unfold the worldwide jihadist motion to Sri Lanka and to create hatred, worry and divisions in society.

“It isn’t a couple of separatist motion,” she mentioned. “It’s about faith and punishing.”

The coordinated suicide bombings on Sunday, focusing on members of Sri Lanka’s Roman Catholic minority and company at inns favored by international vacationers, had been much like these carried out elsewhere by main Islamist militant teams, Ms. Speckhard mentioned.

“These assaults seem like fairly totally different and look as in the event that they got here proper out of the ISIS, Al Qaeda, world militant jihadist playbook, as these are assaults fomenting spiritual hatred by attacking a number of church buildings on a excessive spiritual vacation,” she mentioned.

The Tamils had been among the many first teams on the planet to make use of suicide bombings as a typical tactic. The civil battle ended a decade in the past after a large-scale operation by the military that defeated the Tamils and killed their chief.

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