Terrorism in Sri Lanka has a history of over five decades.
Terrorism in Sri Lanka has a history of over five decades.(Photo: iStock)
  • 1. Did the SL Govt Know of the Attack?
  • 2. What is NTJ? Who is Zohran Hashim?
  • 3. The Sri Lanka-Pakistan Connect
  • 4. Why Were Churches Targeted?
  • 5. Are TNTJ, SLTJ and NTJ Connected?
  • 6. The Perception Problem
  • 7. Threat of Terrorism in TN
Unmasking Terrorism in Sri Lanka – In Seven Slides

On 21 April 2019, a series of 7-8 blasts hit churches and star hotels around Batticaloa, Colombo and Negombo in Sri Lanka, killing at least 359 people and injuring over 500.

On one hand, the Sri Lankan government admits to a security/intelligence lapse. On the other, the serial blasts are also seen as one of the most meticulously planned, precision terrorist attacks in recent years, next only to 9/11.

The Sri Lankan government has named the National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ) as the organisation behind the attack, while the Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility.

Zohran Hashim, the leader of the NTJ is also suspected to have ties with the IS.
But why the sudden attack on churches, when communal tensions in Sri Lanka have brewed historically only between the Muslim minority and the Buddhist majority? Who are the NTJ? And what is their connection to the Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamath based in Tamil Nadu?

Read on to know.

  • 1. Did the SL Govt Know of the Attack?

    Too busy to read? Listen to the report right here.

    The Sri Lankan government had received tip offs from Indian intelligence of an imminent Jihadi attack. The intelligence had also pointed to the NTJ as one of the organisations that could be involved, reported The Times of India.

    A report by The New York Times stated that Indian intelligence officials warned their Sri Lankan counterparts hours before the attack. It was reportedly the last in a series of unheeded alerts, including one 4 April warning and an 11 April intelligence memo that warned of attacks on churches and named the plotters.

    “I must be truthful and admit that there were lapses on the part of defence officials.”
    Maithripala Sirisena, Sri Lankan President after the blasts

    The Sri Lankan government then named the National Thowheed Jamath, as the organisation behind the attacks.


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