Sri Lanka’s 911

I have inspired to write that title. As all roads lead back to this original conflict.  I have spent some time typing as I felt moved to not just write a few words and move on.  I have cold feet, hands and just kept writing what I felt.  I can’t know the full situation but I can offer glimpses into peace and my own awareness that may assist.

I contemplated the head of the police and the Military Defence Secretary colluding to ignore intelligence sent to them by the Indian Government.  I then felt the same sense of when the intelligence agencies in the United States had information about a possible attack by flying planes into the Twin Towers, this was ignored.  Michael Moore made clear in Fahrenheit 911 that he believed the US government was behind it given their relationship with the Saudi Royal family and oil interests.  I then contemplated those identifying as right wing neo conservatives their links to the energy industry and what started endless war’s using the tag line of ‘terrorism’ and the religion of Islam as the ‘evil other’ to set the stage.  I felt their Christian biases undermining that ‘other’ just as Islamic prejudices see ‘infidel’.

I would like to state anyone who uses violence to harm others catalyses a culture of fear, undermines real security and whatever their goal is the nature of destruction always turns towards the attacker as a natural law.  I often talk about ‘oneness’ in my blogs this is not an ideal fanciful notion it is a literal truth.  We are ONE with each other whether we know it or not.  I often talk about ‘aspects’ of who we are that we attack as we are unresolved.  What we resist persists what we look at disappears. We often hate in others what is in ourselves, Christians talk about taking the log out of your own eye when you judge others.  We see the evil other outside of ourselves but in truth the negative mind concocts the plan, the one’s who finance it or manipulating in the background to stir people into hate do not realise that they plant the seeds of their own demise, as we are not separate. So what you do to another returns to the self is a universal law.

I felt deeply for the Sri Lankan people who died and their families and friends.  The country would be in mourning. I haven’t see the footage yet but I was feeling them and sending love to them in my own way.   I do not see religion, I see powerlessness, misunderstanding and righteousness that believes in ‘right’ versus ‘wrong’ anchoring conflict.

As a peacemaker I can see the set up.  I can see those who want hatred to spread.  They can use the New Zealand attack as a retaliation but I would say is it true?, is it a black op?  Is it division in the Sri Lankan Government? Is it external interference? Was it elements in India given the unresolved conflict in Kashmir? This came up for me.  People are at war as they choose not to face the truth of their own violence and persecution of civilians.  They justify their violence to get what they want.  There is no empathy for civilians.

Sri Lanka is a country that knows about division given the Buddhist Sinhalese and Tamil Tiger conflict that raged for a decade.  The Tamils were seeking autonomy.  It was very brutal this war and at its worse towards the end.  The attack would have triggered real trauma in the people, who as usual, suffer terribly.

The New York Times indicates the suicide bombers were middle class. It is interesting to note this as the perception is they are the desperate poor, radicalised.  Radicalisation is not just religious, it is economic, it ideological and on it goes.  It expresses in a way that ‘my way is the only way’ and anyone else is sub-human or the enemy.  It is a reflection of intolerance to differences as people garner power through identify with groups.  Group think reinforces prejudices and justifies why the other must be punished, harmed or killed as a noble cause of some sort.  Naive people come in all shapes and sizes, if you don’t have experience in life or an experience of diversity or an education to critically think you can become caught up in cults.  I use the world ‘cult’ as mind control is a cult.  A person attacks which is against their true nature.  Even soldiers have to be trained to kill, it is not natural for us to do it, that is why guilt is there.  Provocateurs planting seeds of hate keep the flames alight.

Here is a excerpt from another New York Times article giving the otherside, looking into Muslim hatred.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/25/world/asia/sri-lanka-attacks-mastermind.html

KATTANKUDY, Sri Lanka — Zaharan Hashim, a radical Muslim preacher accused of masterminding the Easter Sunday attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka, never hid his hatred.

He railed against a local performance in which Muslim girls dared to dance. When a Muslim politician held a 50th birthday party, he raged about how Western infidel traditions were poisoning his hometown, Kattankudy.

There were, Mr. Zaharan said in one of his online sermons, three types of people: Muslims, those who had reached an accord with Muslims, and “people who need to be killed.”

Idolaters, he added, “need to be slaughtered wherever you see them.”

Mr. Zaharan has been described by Sri Lankan officials as having founded an obscure group with inchoate aims: a defacement of a Buddha statue, a diatribe against Sufi mystics.

But in his hometown, and later in the online world of radical Islam where his sermons were popular with a segment of Sri Lankan youth, it was clear for years that Mr. Zaharan’s hateful cadences were designed to lure a new generation of militants.

“He was influential, very attractive, very smart in his speeches, even though what he was saying about jihad was crazy,” said Marzook Ahamed Lebbe, a former Kattankudy politician and member of a local Islamic federation. “We all underestimated him. We never thought he would do what he said.”

Islam also has to deal with the divisions within it, where their beliefs have created the ‘enemy’ or ‘evil other’ how they are not speaking with love and respect of others different to them. I am keenly aware of the prejudices in extreme Islam and I know of the intolerance, cruelty and control exercised by those who believe their way is the only way.  I contemplate Afghanistan Taliban here.  If we look at the Wahhabi cult in Saudi Arabia as an extreme form of Islam if their religious laws are broken.

When mind control binds any group they fundamentally believe what they are doing is right, they have the storyline, the narrative and this helps them to feel good about grotesque actions.  We see it in the militaries of the world who are perceived as defending the country but ultimately all are engaged in using violence to defeat a threat. They too have to have a narrative to justify violence and why people deserve to be punished.  They may use violence to teach a lesson, enforce control and ensure wealth is protected.  So if we transcend the terrorist narrative and actually look at the problem these wars are funded, encouraged and continued in order to generate endless war. This is where the real issue is in my view. A culture of violence reflects power not peace.

In this case the other issues concern the Police inspector and Defence Minister withholding critical information that could have prevented the deaths of 350 people. That turns the focus onto the unresolved conflicts in the government and whether there was interest in this plot going ahead.  The issue of resolving conflict is critical in both cases – religion, politics, economic and cultural.  I recall feeling when the 10 year conflict was over and they stated they had peace, I knew they didn’t have peace. It was a forced peace and it was brutal.  That is the mistake that is made over and over around the world when conflicts are reduced to either negotiation deals or forced compliance.  It doesn’t work.  That is why we see conflicts surfacing today, they are not resolved and they have to be healed. You will seldom if never read the word ‘healing’ in any media piece on conflict. Yet it is the pink elephant always in the room.  People need to let go of the conflict through truth and reconciliation processes, they need to know what happened and why, they need to literally walk towards those involved and dialogue in order to live together. There must be forgiveness and this is where religious leaders could assist in reminding both sides of what they truly believe in.  There has to be fairness so that justice is not seen to be but actually is the outcome.  When we come out of power paradigms this doesn’t happen as results are wanted. The deeper work of peace is seen as irrelevant.  I recall in the film Charlie Wilson’s War when all this money was spent on Afghanistan (50% Saudi Arabia note) in order to fight the Russians.  Islamic fighters were brought in covertly and the tide was turned due to arming the Mujahedin through the influence of Christian elites (Joanne Herring) who stated a religious calling advocating religion as a right (Soviet’s secular).  People died in defence of their country, foreign countries involved themselves delivering arms to enable slaughter, cold war narratives justified killing people and when they won, the crazies rolled into Kabul as the CIA guy Gust Avrakotos warned Charlie Wilson.  These were the extreme Taliban. They were the children who were raised by Mullahs in Madrasses due to war.  The islamists were brought into Afghanistan by the CIA.  Refer Operation Cyclone https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Cyclone

A look over Operation Cyclone brings up the Soviet/US unresolved conflict and interference to stop the spread of an ideology in this war of full spectrum dominance. Afghanistan is caught in the middle, the civilians have no idea of the geopolitical machinations. They are the pawns, like the Sri Lankans, like the New Zealanders etc.  So the consequence of endless war doctrines is that people on the ground are terrorised by adversarial dominance that in truth, can never win.  The short term gains transform into another problem.

At the end of the film when the US won its war Charlie was trying to raise a small amount from the Defense Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee to rebuild schools.  This was peace building.  He was laughed at, one of the Congressman called Afghanistan Pakistan and they saw it as a non event, are we still talking about it? This is because their belief was to ‘win’ not to resolve conflict, this is the nature of adversarial conflict that has no desire for resolution.  They cared nothing for the social disintegration on the ground, that the majority (63%) of the country was under 25 which indicates the devastation of their people and culture. They wouldn’t build schools to ensure the peace at the end as peace wasn’t the end game, and this is where all failed and lost the real war.  They fight their wars for self (national) interest not best interest. Factions, divisions, ideologies, religions all create the context of ‘them and us’ and no-one comes to instruct on how to resolve grievances for a win/win, nor how to rebalance injustice, reparations and truth and reconciliation.  The failure is at the international level as there is no form of judicial enforcement that can ensure resolution occurs.  There has to be a global ethos of felt life, liberty and happiness as the end goal not for the few who profit but the entire world.  To be able to see yourself in the other, is critical to peace – he is me. I often feel inspired by the US founding fathers as they shed a small shard of light that could have led the world to peace, but vested interests block this pathway like a dark underbelly. So the wars continue across the world with different faces, same problem.

The loss of life in Sri Lanka is large “350” and the personal loss is not calculable.  My mind drifts to Syria, my heart actually takes me there as well as I feel for all people suffering from male violence labelled insurgency, terrorism, persecution and so on. The labels distract from problem solving the real issues.  I find my heart carries those unseen others, like balls in the air, not resolved and ignored but still under siege no matter their religion, colour or creed.  The people are the fodder that is used so men can continue fighting their wars for some short term advantage that evokes supremacy. The same paradigm is under the surface that only knows win/lose.  Anything dissimilar is an ‘enemy’.

To awaken the fool one must open their mind to the ‘why’ of what is happening and to genuinely seek the ‘truth’ of it.  To see yourself in others enables a space to be created (internally) for inspiration to guide the next step.  When in pain it is hard to see possibilities, but allow the pain to go through its process but then return to the truth and solve the problem so it is not repeated.  Gandhi aimed to go to Pakistan to resolve the religious conflict in India between Hindu’s and Muslims, he said the only devils were the ones running around in peope’s heads, that is why dialogue is very important. That is why he sought to travel to the ‘other’ to bring reality to the situation and remind them of their common humanity.  Denial is not a river in Egypt and eventually the truth surfaces, as it did in this case to some extent. Truth sets all free.

It would be interesting to learn of who funded the Islamist group and what the plot behind the scenes really was.  That is incredibly important and in the global interest.  Citizens must be protected and those in authority must be clear their allegiance is to the people not special interests that are corrosive.

Remember to all those who are religious these are tests, you must stay close to the source of love and not allow those who are destructive to control the narrative.  Like New Zealand come out and support one another.  May Muslims and Christians show the love of Christ/Mohammad to each other supporting peace not violence.  That is critical.

So to the New York Times article.

http://time.com/5577349/world-health-organization-screen-time-guidelines-kids/

Sri Lanka Attacks: What We Know and Don’t Know

Mourners at a mass burial on Wednesday near St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, Sri Lanka. More than 100 people were killed at the church on Sunday.CreditAdam Dean for The New York Times
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Mourners at a mass burial on Wednesday near St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, Sri Lanka. More than 100 people were killed at the church on Sunday.CreditCreditAdam Dean for The New York Times

By The New York Times

The investigation into the bombings on Sunday in Sri Lanka that killed more than 350 people entered a fourth day on Wednesday. Information continues to emerge, while some basic questions remain unanswered.

Indian intelligence officials warned their Sri Lankan counterparts of the attack just hours before the first bomb was detonated, but the Sri Lankans failed to act. It was the last in a series of unheeded alerts, including an April 4 warning and an April 11 intelligence memo that warned of attacks on churches and named the plotters.

• As anger mounted over the intelligence failures, one lawmaker, Wijedasa Rajapakse, called on Wednesday for the arrest and prosecution of two top security officials, and President Maithripala Sirisena asked the two officials to resign. In a letter to Mr. Sirisena, Mr. Rajapakse said that Hemasiri Fernando, the defense secretary, and Pujith Jayasundara, the inspector general of police, “hid these facts from you and the prime minister,” and urged the president to “arrest them and bring the full force of the law to bear against them.”

• The suicide bombers who struck churches and hotels were all well-educated, middle-class Sri Lankans, officials said on Wednesday. Some had been educated overseas, including one who was an undergraduate at a university in Britain and went to graduate school in Australia. The officials said nine bombers blew themselves up — eight men and one woman — including the man described as the leader of the homegrown, militant Islamist group said to have carried out the attack.

• There is a danger of more bombings, officials have warned, as the police continue to find explosives. The American ambassador said investigators believed there were “ongoing terrorist plots,” and Sri Lankan officials have said they are still searching for people believed to be linked to the attacks.

• The government has blamed the group National Thowheeth Jama’ath for the attacks and said it received foreign assistance. On Tuesday, the Islamic State claimed its “fighters” were responsible.

• Sixty people have been arrested in connection with the attacks on Easter Sunday, Ruwan Wijewardene, the country’s state minister of defense, said on Wednesday.

• More than 350 people were killed, including at least 45 children, and about 500 were wounded. The victims came from more than a dozen countries, and included people worshiping at Easter services.

• Sri Lankan officials said on Tuesday that the bombings may have been in retaliation for attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March. On Wednesday, a government minister and former army chief said planning may have been underway for several years.

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• The United States Embassy confirmed that agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation were in Sri Lanka to assist.

Security personnel standing guard at St Anthony’s Church in Colombo on Wednesday.CreditAtul Loke/Getty Images
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Security personnel standing guard at St Anthony’s Church in Colombo on Wednesday.CreditAtul Loke/Getty Images

• The death toll rose to at least 359. Unicef, the United Nations children agency, said at least 45 of those killed were children.

• The attacks took place at three churches and three hotels on Easter morning in three separate cities across the island. Two more explosions happened in the afternoon in and around Colombo, one at a small guesthouse and the other at what was the suspects’ apparent safe house. Three officers searching for the attackers were killed in that blast.

• The deadliest explosion was at St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, about 20 miles north of Colombo, where more than 100 were killed.

• At least 28 people were killed at the Zion Church in Batticaloa, on the other side of the island on its eastern coast. St. Anthony’s Shrine, a Roman Catholic church in Colombo, was also attacked, with an unknown number of dead. Witnesses described “a river of blood” there.

• The three hotels attacked, all in Colombo, were the Shangri-La, the Cinnamon Grand and the Kingsbury.

• People from more than a dozen foreign countries were killed, along with many Sri Lankans. Several of the victims were Americans, the authorities said. Others were Australian, British, Chinese, Dutch, Indian, Portuguese, Japanese and Turkish citizens, according to officials and news reports.

ImageThe Daily Poster

Listen to ‘The Daily’: The Terrorist Attacks in Sri Lanka

Suicide bombings across the country killed hundreds of people. Top officials had been repeatedly warned of the threat.

0:00/20:50

transcript

Listen to ‘The Daily’: The Terrorist Attacks in Sri Lanka

Hosted by Michael Barbaro; produced by Rachel Quester, Eric Krupke and Alexandra Leigh Young, with help from Annie Brown; and edited by Lisa Tobin

Suicide bombings across the country killed hundreds of people. Top officials had been repeatedly warned of the threat.

michael barbaro

From The New York Times, I’m Michael Barbaro. This is “The Daily.” Today: A series of highly coordinated bombings has left more than 300 dead in Sri Lanka. How did a small, obscure and underfinanced local group carry out one of the deadliest terror attacks since 9/11? It’s Wednesday, April 24. Jeffrey Gettleman, take me back to a year ago in Sri Lanka. What was going on in the government there?

jeffrey gettleman

The Sri Lankan government was in complete meltdown. Sri Lanka is a developing country, somewhat isolated. It’s an island off of India. And for years, it’s struggled with a very brutal civil war that ended about 10 years ago. So we are now witnessing the rebirth of this country after decades of bloodshed and dysfunction and confusion and chaos. And the government is a symptom of all these problems.

[music]

archived recording

A political crisis in Sri Lanka, where the president has sacked the country’s entire Parliament and called for fresh elections.

jeffrey gettleman

You have a division at the highest levels between the president and the prime minister. They were disputing who was in control.

archived recording

The president is accused of violating the Constitution after he fired the prime minister and appointed a replacement.

jeffrey gettleman

And the president then appointed another person to become a new prime minister.

archived recording 1

He replaced him with Mahinda Rajapaksa, an ex-president accused of war crimes.

archived recording 2

The country’s largest party has called the president a tyrant.

archived recording 3

The prime minister, they say, should be chosen by Parliament, not the president.

jeffrey gettleman

It provoked a constitutional crisis with lawmakers threatening to quit.

archived recording 1

Police have been called into Sri Lanka’s Parliament after M.P.s flung books, chairs and water to stop a no-confidence motion.

archived recording 2

Tempers boiled over following discussions over who should lead the country.

archived recording 3

Supporters of Sri Lanka’s ousted prime minister aren’t going to let him go quietly.

jeffrey gettleman

And it all stemmed from this very bitter rivalry between the president and the prime minister, which still hasn’t been resolved.

michael barbaro

And throughout this turmoil that you’re describing over the past year, what is happening simultaneously in Sri Lanka?

jeffrey gettleman

Well, around the same time in December last year, when this political meltdown was still a big issue here, and the government was dysfunctional, police officials in a small town in central Sri Lanka learned about a mysterious preacher who had been indoctrinating young Muslim students and encouraging them to attack Buddhists and Buddhist statues. They didn’t know much about this guy. He was said to be a traveling preacher who had been run out of his own village because his views were too radical and hateful, and he had been told to leave. And ever since then, he had been traveling back and forth between India and Sri Lanka, spreading these very hateful messages that Muslims are the only ones who deserve to be on Earth, that Muslims have the right to kill anybody who’s not Muslim, and that anybody who’s concerned about these issues should really take action and strike out against infidels. The Sri Lankan government doesn’t really take it seriously. And at the same time, the Indian government, which has a pretty extensive intelligence network across South Asia and is constantly on the lookout for the rise of Islamic groups, learns about this guy. And then, in early April, India reaches out to Sri Lanka and says they have specific information: Mohammed Zaharan and his followers are planning suicide attacks across Sri Lanka at churches. The Indians give the Sri Lankans very detailed information — the whereabouts of these people, their cell phone numbers, social media information, addresses, names, aliases. And the Sri Lankans then process the information and put together a security memo that they circulate among only a few assistant police chiefs. And this memo was dated April 11, and it says, foreign intelligence agencies have given us information that Mohammed Zaharan is planning suicide attacks against Catholic churches in Sri Lanka. But no action is taken.

michael barbaro

How can that be possible, that they’re not taking any action?

jeffrey gettleman

Some people believe it goes back to this political division at the heart of the government, that the president is so intent on shutting out the prime minister from any security matters that he’s hoarding all this information to himself and not really doing anything with it. The suspects who are named in the memo are not arrested. No security is added at churches, and life goes on, until April 21. At about 8:45 a.m. Easter Sunday, bombs explode at several churches and hotels across Sri Lanka.

archived recording

The story we’re following — state media in Sri Lanka report three explosions were at hotels. Three other explosions were at churches. And keep this in mind —

jeffrey gettleman

I was actually in New Delhi, and I got a message that a few explosions had been heard and several people were injured. Over the next couple hours, we find out that dozens of people have been killed.

archived recording

The information is still coming through, but the information that we have points to a devastating series of what looks like a series of coordinated attacks.

jeffrey gettleman

By the time I bought my plane tickets and was en route to Sri Lanka, the death toll was nearly 200 people. It kept rising day by day, and is now more than 320 people.

archived recording

This is the worst violence in Sri Lanka in more than 10 years, since the end of the civil war there.

jeffrey gettleman

And the people who were killed were worshippers, many children, several dozen foreign tourists. Sri Lanka has a large tourism industry. And there were Americans, British, Australians, Indians, Chinese, Turkish all killed in these attacks.

michael barbaro

And how do Sri Lankan officials respond to the attack early on?

jeffrey gettleman

So within hours, they arrest dozens of suspects. They sweep through the city, Colombo, the capital, find a safe house with weapons in it, announce that they have arrested accomplices to the attackers. And that raised questions, because it looked like they had known who was behind the attack from the beginning. And shortly after that, one minister in the government leaks this secret memo dated April 11 that says there was an imminent terrorist attack against Catholic churches in the works. And the anger begins to build that the government should have arrested these people and fortified the churches before Easter Sunday if they had suspected that there might be some attacks.

michael barbaro

And what are the big questions that reporters like you are trying to answer at this moment?

jeffrey gettleman

So I was very confused how a local group that nobody’s heard of could have accomplished such a devastating series of attacks. I have covered suicide bombings in other places, like Somalia and Iraq, and I have seen the horror of people blown apart and buildings blown apart by very powerful explosives. And that’s what this looked like. There were six bombs that went off within minutes of each other, and each was incredibly powerful. To build a bomb like that is complicated. To pack explosives into a small, carryable package and detonate it effectively in a closed space is the mark of a sophisticated terrorist organization. They had to have a foreign partner in this. They had to have tapped into some international terror network and received expertise or manpower or weapons to be able to do this, because there was no history in Sri Lanka of anything close to this scale. And the selection of the targets — to go after churches on Easter seemed such a spectacular crime against non-Muslims that it just made you wonder what group out there would have an agenda like that. There really wasn’t a local motivation to do that. There had been no history of bloodshed between Muslims and Christians in Sri Lanka. So it raised the question of what group outside this country would want to use this country to make a broader point. And that’s when I started thinking about the Islamic State.

archived recording 1

CNN has just learned that ISIS is now claiming responsibility for the coordinated Easter Sunday bombings.

archived recording 2

The Islamic State says it was behind the multiple suicide blasts, although it’s not offered any proof.

michael barbaro

And when do we learn more about ISIS’s involvement?

jeffrey gettleman

It was only into the third day of covering the story around the clock, hour after hour, that we begin to hear of an Islamic State connection. On Tuesday morning, we hear that the Islamic State has claimed this attack. That’s not proof in itself, because of course the Islamic State is going to want to take credit for one of the most devastating terrorist attacks against Christians or non-Muslims in recent years. That was not proof in itself. But by Tuesday night, the Islamic State released a video —

jeffrey gettleman

— of Mohammed Zaharan posing with a weapon in front of a black Islamic State flag next to seven men whose faces are covered. And in the video, he makes a pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State. And that basically clinches the connection between this little, unknown group and one of the world’s deadliest terror organizations.

michael barbaro

Jeffrey, did the Sri Lankan government know about this seeming involvement of ISIS ahead of time when they were getting all those warnings? Was that in any of those notifications that they were getting beforehand?

jeffrey gettleman

There was nothing that we knew before today that showed the Sri Lankan government knew there was a Islamic State connection to this group. In that very detailed memo that lays out the names and addresses and phone numbers, there was no mention of the Islamic State. And the argument is that even if that was the case, the security agencies should have still looked more closely into it, because they had detailed information from a credible partner, which is the Indian government. So that’s what’s so frustrating, is that people in this country had very detailed information about what this group was planning. The mistake was nobody thought they were capable of doing it.

michael barbaro

Mm-hmm. So I wonder — what does it tell us that this small, local, not well-financed, not-all-that-seriously-taken group was able to be harnessed the way it was by ISIS?

jeffrey gettleman

I think it shows that there can be a partnership between any radical group, however much you discount them as inexperienced, under-resourced, not that threatening, eccentric. If they team up with the Islamic State or a global terror network, they can become incredibly dangerous. And the fact that they’re underestimated and dismissed and ignored is an advantage, because then they’re able to set a plot like this in motion without a lot of scrutiny or harassment. But there’s something else that was still really perplexing, which is, what does it mean to be connected to the Islamic State? So these guys here pledged allegiance to this greater jihadist philosophy, but did they get training by the Islamic State? Did they send people to Syria? Did the Islamic State send people here? Did they help them bring in the explosives? How closely were the two sides working together? We still don’t know that. And who initiated contact? Was it Mohammed Zaharan who reached out to them and said, I really need your help to accomplish this mission inside Sri Lanka? Or did the Islamic State spot an opportunity and maybe see some of his videos online and think, hmm, Sri Lanka’s a pretty soft target. If we want to kill a lot of people, that’s a great place to do it. And maybe they cultivated him and used him to accomplish their agenda. This is the type of stuff that we’re trying to figure out, and it’s a huge investigation. The American government has just sent F.B.I. agents here to help. There’s lots of foreign intelligence interest in this incident because of the high death toll and the way that these attacks unfolded. And it raises a question of how dangerous these homegrown groups can be. Because here was one that nobody was watching, and it pulled off one of the most devastating, horrific terrorist episodes of recent times.

michael barbaro

And it feels, at the end of the day, like this is bigger than whatever decisions were being made by the Sri Lankan government. This is about an international terror group looking for local partners in ways that lots of small governments don’t seem to understand.

jeffrey gettleman

Yes, but local governments have to deal with these issues on the ground. There’s no international Islamic State equivalent to fight terrorist groups. These issues are handled on the ground. Some of the news that came out on Tuesday was that the cardinal of Sri Lanka’s Catholic community was furious at the security forces and said, if you guys had told me there were threats against churches on Easter Sunday, I would have told people to stay home. But he wasn’t given that information.

michael barbaro

And why is the F.B.I. involved here, Jeffrey?

jeffrey gettleman

There were a few Americans killed in the attacks. That is a concern to the American government, and therefore they have some jurisdiction and reason to be here. But it’s much bigger than that. What happened here in Sri Lanka is a very alarming sign for the rest of the world of how to co-opt a local group that has very little resources and a pretty low profile to commit mass murder. How did this group evolve relatively quickly from the same one that was defacing statues, and little more than that, to a group that could blow up churches across the country within minutes of each other and kill 300 or more people? I think they see this as an important case to work on because it has these bigger ramifications.

It’s the idea that the Islamic State, which has been defeated on the ground and lost a lot of territory, is still a very powerful virtual force. It can still indoctrinate people and encourage people and support people to do these horrific crimes. Whether it has a town or a region in the Middle East that it controls or not, it’s still a deadly force. That’s what we all want to figure out, is how exactly did these two groups work together to carry this out. And I think if we know that, it will help us understand how these groups pull off attacks like this. And the idea is the better you understand that, the better chance you have of preventing the next one.

On Tuesday, mass funerals began for the victims of Sunday’s attacks in Sri Lanka. Outside of one of the targeted churches, priests held back-to-back ceremonies in a large tent, several of them for small children. A few hours later, in a televised speech, Sri Lanka’s president acknowledged his government’s failure to detect the terror attacks beforehand and vowed to dismiss aides who had failed to act on the warnings. We’ll be right back.

• Sri Lankan officials have yet to confirm if the so-called leader killed in the attack was Mohamad Zaharan, the radical Muslim lecturer mentioned in a security memo as the head of National Thowheeth Jama’ath, which is believed to have organized the bombings.

• How two small, obscure groups — one of which was previously best known for desecrating Buddhist statues — managed to pull off sophisticated, coordinated attacks.

• The extent to which the Islamic State or other international terrorist networks may have helped with the attacks.

• The names of the suicide bombers and the now 60 people being held in connection with the attacks.

• Why the authorities failed to take substantial steps to try to prevent an attack after receiving reports of an imminent threat.

• What effect the failure to stop the attacks will have on Sri Lanka’s government. The president and the prime minister were already engaged in a bitter feud.

Mohandas Gandhi

“Only as high as I reach can I grow, only as far as I seek can I go, only as deep as I look can I see, only as much as I dream can I be.”

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