Upul Joseph Fernando
“Although it is not known yet who is responsible for Monday’s heinous bombings at the Boston Marathon that killed three and injured more than 100 people, a source within the Iranian Intelligence Services told WND, the Islamic regime was behind them, and to look for trails through Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.”
American website, World Net Daily, came up with this theory even before the Boston bombers were tracked down and caught. The American media pointing its finger at Sri Lanka in connection with Boston bombing should be considered as a matter of grave concern by the Government of Sri Lanka. In another previous instance, when the German bakery bomb explosion took place in Pune, the chief suspect in his confession, had revealed that the final operational plan was drawn up in Colombo. The charge sheet filed with the indictment of the main suspects carried the following statement:
“The ATS charge sheet in the bakery blast case states that Baig had visited Colombo in March 2008 to meet Kagzi and Zabiuddin. The three were old friends in Beed. The Colombo visit was intended to finalize their plans for further terrorist activities.
“According to the charge sheet, Zabiuddin and Kagzi trained Baig to assemble and set off the explosive devices, and also gave him money for funding the travel of Muslim youths wanting to go for terrorist training in Pakistan.
“The charge sheet state that after returning from Colombo, Baig settled down in Udgir, in the Latur District and went by the aliases, Yusuf and Hasan. He started a cyber cafe and used around 25 email IDs to keep in touch with the absconding suspects in the bakery blast, Ahmed Siddibappa alias Yasin Bhatkal and Mohsin Chowdhary. Bhatkal and Chowdhary met Baig at Udgir in January 2010 and finalized their plan to trigger the blast at the bakery,” the charge sheet stated.
Operating in South Asia
Subsequent to the disclosure, Head of US Pacific Command, Admiral Robert Willard had reported to Senate Armed Service Committee that Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) terrorist group was actively operating in several South Asian countries including Sri Lanka. Indian media at the time gave extreme prominence to the revelation in the report. It contended further that Pakistan Intelligence Service, ISI, was using Tamil-speaking Sri Lankan Muslims to destabilize India. Here are some news reports which appeared in the Indian media at the time.
“Past evidence indicated that the main interest of the ISI in using Colombo as a base was to collect intelligence about developments in sensitive Indian nuclear and missile establishments, many of which are located in South India, particularly in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. In order to collate intelligence about these establishments, the ISI generally uses Sri Lankan Tamil-speaking Muslims visiting India as well as South Indians visiting Colombo. Colombo also serves as a convenient transit point for arranging clandestine visits for Indians co-operating with the ISI to Karachi via Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flights, without any entry of their visits in their passports. There has been no evidence so far of the ISI using Colombo as a base for covert actions directed against India. However, the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), has been showing increasing interest in taking jihad to the Muslims of the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka. There have been persistent reports of a process of radicalization of small sections of the Tamil-speaking Muslim youth in the Eastern Province. During the riots in the Eastern Province in mid 2002, pamphlets in the name of a so-called Osama Brigade came to light. The Chennai media had reported subsequently that some members of an organization called the Muslim Defence Force (MDF), arrested by the Chennai Police, had been in touch with one Abu, a journalist who was then allegedly close to the ISI, and was posted as the Pakistani High Commissioner to Sri Lanka during the first tenure of Nawaz Shariff as Prime Minister of Pakistan (1990-93).”
“The recent investigations into the clandestine nuclear proliferation activities of A.Q. Khan, the so-called father of the Pakistan atom bomb, have revealed that Bukhary Seyed Abu Tahir, a Sri Lankan Muslim of Indian origin, married in Malaysia and with business interests in Kuala Lumpur and Dubai, was one of the external kingpins of Pakistan’s clandestine nuclear procurement network. In a speech at the National Defence University of Washington DC last February, President Bush had described the Sri Lankan Tamil-speaking Muslim as the ‘chief financial officer and money launderer’ of A.Q. Khan’s clandestine operations.”
Former Indian Intelligence Officer, B. Raman, has drawn attention to the following conclusions in regard to this matter.
“The arrest of Dhameem Anzavi, the alleged spy, nabbed while attempting to pass on sensitive information to the ISI in Colombo, has reportedly exposed an increase in the activities of the Pakistan Intelligence Agency in Sri Lanka. Anzari had reportedly confessed to the Q Branch Police during the initial interrogation, that the ISI, which operated out of the Pakistani High Commission in Colombo, had increased its activities of monitoring the southern states of India.
“Police said, Anzari (35), son of Abdul Rahman of Thanjavur, went to the Pakistan Consulate (High Commission in Colombo) and met Boss alias Ameer Subbiah Siddique, said to be the man in charge of the Tamil Nadu (TN) unit of the ISI at the consulate. Ameer had reportedly asked Anzari to get him security details of installations in India, especially TN, and promised a hefty sum in return. He tried to send the information online, but it failed to reach Ameer. So, he was waiting to hand it over to Ameer personally. Anzari took footage and photos of security installations in South India and reportedly told several acquaintances that he was making a movie to portray how secure India was.”
In essence, all these revelations and disclosures amount to an alarming trend in Indian and American strategy – vis-a-vis Sri Lanka. Both countries are committed to proving Sri Lankan as a hot-bed of Islamic terrorism targeting Europe, America and India.
Taken on face value, their warning of fundamentalist Islamic terrorist movements working out of Sri Lanka is a reminder to the government to take urgent action to contain them.
However, not too obvious, yet arising unmistakably through their manoeuvrings is their desire probably to condemn Sri Lanka as a threat to Indian and American interests, thus creating an opening for them to poke their fingers into the country’s internal affairs. A few months ago, the New York based Open Society Foundation, in their report had mentioned that “Sri Lanka permitted use of its air space and airports for flights associated with the US Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) extraordinary rendition operations in 2003.” In light of the above, it may not be too far-fetched to surmise that when needed, America could find a window to carryout operations in Sri Lanka in defence of their interests. It stamps validity on the contention made earlier, that especially in view of the World Net Daily Web news item, that the Sri Lankan Government should take extra notice of its probable ramifications. When India interfered in the country’s internal affairs in 1987, flagrantly violating international norms, America remained silent. It is therefore not farfetched to think that India, while insidiously creating a window for America to operate inside Sri Lanka, will prefer to remain silent.