The suspension of Sri Lankan peacekeepers

The suspension of Sri Lankan peacekeepers
October 2nd, 2019  

Topic: The suspension of Sri Lankan peacekeepers

The suspension of Sri Lankan peacekeepers
The United Nations has suspended Sri Lankan army deployments in peacekeeping operations after the island nation appointed a veteran accused of war crimes. Kagusthan Ariaratnam argues that this decision is long overdue, given the history of atrocities perpetrated by Sri Lankan military personnel.
May 26th, 2020  
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Justin Dell and Dr. Joseph McQuade of the NATO Association of Canada for their invaluable input and guidance in publishing this Special Report on Sri Lanka’s Easter Sunday Bombings. With this more streamlined article, tempered in tone, I have tried a much stronger presentation of evidence without overstepping its limits in the conclusions I draw from it. Connecting some of the disparate pieces of information that are either buried under or do not comport with, the 'official' story of what happened with the Easter Sunday bombings, I have woven them into a thought-provoking counter-narrative.

Special Report: Sri Lanka’s Easter Sunday Bombings – An Intelligence Failure? Or an Intelligence Operation?

Since the Easter Sunday bombings that rocked Colombo, Sri Lanka, on April 21, 2019, killing more than 250 people and injuring another 500, questions remain unanswered surrounding the role of the Sri Lankan military and intelligence services before and after the event. Even though the Sri Lankan authorities blamed a local group, National Thowheed Jamaath (NTJ), shortly after the attacks, a closer look at the aftermath raises the suspicion that the Sri Lankan government’s ascription of blame to NTJ might have been a hasty, or even dishonest, move. After all, as reported by the New York Times, it is surprising that this low-profile group managed to launch a rather complex and sophisticated attack, with multiple suicide bombers striking different places roughly simultaneously and without warning.


To fully understand the implications of the Easter Sunday bombings, one must ask the following questions:

Among the stakeholders in Sri Lanka, who would benefit from attacking a Christian minority group in a mainly Buddhist-majority country?
Does ISIS have such a reach in Sri Lanka? If so, why did they choose Sri Lanka?
And most importantly, why did the Sri Lankan security establishment and intelligence community neglect the precise intelligence repeatedly provided to them by India?
The international community must find answers to these questions first so that it can solve the puzzle of the perpetrators’ real identity and motives.

Another suspicious incident surrounding the Easter Sunday bombing is that, even though the government of Sri Lanka blocked all social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter, following the incident, there were still some photos circulating on Facebook and other social media sites of the alleged perpetrators and their bomb-making factories, which were, in fact, of seemingly random individuals. Their identity was fact-checked by AFP, and they were found not to be Sri Lankan nationals at all. In addition, a local newspaper, the Sunday Observer, reported that a Sri Lankan-born Singaporean academic and author of several books on terrorism, Dr. Rohan Gunaratna, created a considerable stir in Colombo in May 2019, when he made startling claims at a seminar organized by Gateway College, asserting the “complete collapse” of the national security machinery in the country. All of this is to say that it is unknowable whether the video footage of the alleged suicide bombers that the Government of Sri Lanka released is genuine or not. This raises doubts about the official narrative that the Easter Sunday bombers were NTJ, or even affiliates of ISIS, targeting Sri Lanka. ISIS may very well claim responsibility for anything that furthers its bloody cause. But this could simply be the opportunistic exploitation of someone else’ operation. Alternatively, it is plausible that the attacks were staged by Sri Lankan intelligence agencies, possibly with foreign support. This further raises suspicion of possible Chinese involvement.

According to some reports, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is a tool of Chinese foreign policy. The Colombo Telegraph, after the Easter Sunday bombings, exclusively revealed that Retired Major General Kapila Hendawitharana, former Director of Military Intelligence, and Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s right-hand man in the Defense Ministry, is also a collaborator with Chinese Intelligence. The article revealed an audio recording of Hendawitharana, who is also the security head of Shangri-La, telling a Chinese intelligence officer to use diplomatic means to sabotage the relationship between the United States and Sri Lanka. Shockingly, the article avers:

“Hendawitharana is privy to American involvement in Sri Lanka’s new war against terror because of his role in security at Shangri-La, but his concern is not for his employer, in whose hotel so many innocents died, but instead for his handlers in Chinese Intelligence and his political contacts in the Joint Opposition.”

These are disquieting allegations.

In the audio recording, available exclusively below in this report, Hendawitharana is heard telling his Chinese handler to, “appraise your diplomatic channels to work on the US-Sri Lanka relationship.”

“There is some development taking place for which the opposition parties, joint opposition, are making hell of a fit,” he warns. “They want to give Americans free passage for any requirement if the requirement arises for them to occupy Sri Lanka, even making use of the harbors and airports.”

“I am also
on the watch,” he said. “The government will deny. I don’t know the underhand plans of them.”

“Make your diplomatic channels aware of this,” the former intelligence chief tells the Chinese, “and ask them to take it up with the foreign ministry of Sri Lanka in advance as a deterrent action.”

In fact, Gotabaya Rajapaksa is not only a probable Chinese asset, but also a hardline anti-Indian and anti-Western antagonist who reserves particular scorn for the United Nations. He accused the UN of having been infiltrated by terrorists “for 30 years or so,” and as a result, he claimed, the UN has been fed disinformation. He also alleged that Britain and the EU were bullying Sri Lanka and concluded that Sri Lanka “does not need them,” and that they don’t provide any significant amount of aid to the country.

This contempt for the UN and attempts to undermine its credibility only further stokes suspicion, because the Sri Lankan political and military leadership, including President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, would do anything to evade the UNHRC war crimes investigations even if it has to be disruptive terrorist attacks that would help derail UNHRC proceedings. Besides, an investigation conducted by the Sri Lankan Parliamentary Select Committee, dominated by MPs opposed to the Rajapaksa family, stated the extent of the intelligence and police failings raised the question of whether the failure to stop the attacks may have been deliberate.

While it is impossible to give a definitive answer to the question of what the motive of the Sri Lankan military or government would be to stage an attack on its own citizens, one can theorize plausible explanations for such a hypothetical false flag operation. The war crimes investigations were going to be led and sponsored by Western nations, especially the United States, to investigate crimes committed by top-ranking Sri Lankan officials, who were either running for office or evading war-crimes charges. This endless foot-dragging and obstructionism of the Sri Lankan regime when it came to war-crimes investigation by the UNHRC, reported roughly one month before the attacks, clearly validates the argument that the Sri Lankan military intelligence could have orchestrated the attacks while pitting two minority groups, namely the Muslims and Christians against each other. This would mean the Sri Lankan military deviously advanced its hidden agenda that the country is still under threat from local terrorist groups linked to ISIS. With this notion, the Sri Lankan intelligence killed two birds with one stone: (1) the attacks further reinforced the Sri Lankan psyche that only the country’s former defense chief, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who was credited for winning the war against the LTTE, can save them from renewed threats emanated from terrorism, and (2) it justified and distracted the international communities, including the UNHRC from permanently putting a stop to the war crimes investigation.

So, if one connects the dots, the Easter Sunday bombings took place for one of two possible reasons. Either it was a plot to attack Christians by radicalized Muslims with help, prodding, funding and brainwashing from an external source – namely, ISIS – or, it was orchestrated by the Sri Lankan intelligence agencies. The latter scenario appears to offer a better explanation for Sri Lankan security services’ disregard for intelligence warnings from India. Therefore, the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka could have been a ‘Reichstag Fire’-like ruse facilitated by the Sri Lankan authorities in order to promote their own interests through popular approval of the retraction of civil rights, designed to give the government more power over domestic security. Moreover, such an operation could have been covertly aided by a foreign power, namely China, that would potentially benefit from a regime drawn ever more into its orbit and away from the United States and transnational human rights institutions.

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