15 July, 2024


Banning Terrorist Organisations; Why Did It Take So Long?

By Niresh Eliatamby

Niresh Eliatamby

There is little doubt that the government’s pussyfooting around for more than three weeks since the horrendous attacks on Easter Sunday, led directly to the violent situation that erupted in some parts of the country over the last few days, bringing Sri Lanka to the brink of another civil war.

In the absence of proper national leadership, while political leaders mucked around, trading accusations and shamelessly trying to gain political capital for themselves, radicals on all sides made merry, creating tension among communities and finally launching a devastating campaign of murder, arson and mayhem through the Northwestern Province and parts of the Western Province. 

Nothing demonstrates the ineptitude or deliberate foot-dragging of politicians in office, together with some of the officials involved with public security, than the fact that the organisations responsible for Easter Sunday attacks were only banned by the Government of Sri Lanka on 14th May 2019. That’s an extraordinary 23 days after the event that shook the world. Gazette Extraordinary No. 2123 dated May 13, 2019 under the Public Security Ordinance (Chapter 40) finally proscribed the National Thowheed Jama’ath (NTJ), the Jama’ath Milla’athe Ibrahim (JMI) and the Willayath As Seylani.

This is quite incredible, considering that the State Minister for Defense as far back as 23rd April publicly named the first two of these three organisations as being behind the suicide blasts, which was the worst terror attack on civilians in the world since the World Trade Centre assault in 2001.

The actual writing of the gazette notice would have taken an experienced legal draftsman all of 15 minutes. Simply look up the last such gazette notification, perhaps the one that proscribed the LTTE, and change the name of the organisation, the gazette number and the date. And of course, the name of the president. Or perhaps the officials were unsure of how to spell the name of the president? The process of translating it into the other two national languages would take another 15 minutes. Obtaining approval from the various layers of bureaucracy and the president himself would take perhaps the rest of the day. So it is quite clear that there was a deliberate delay in proscribing these organisations. Considering that the president issued a statement more than two weeks ago stating his intention to ban the first two organisations, the delay is indeed a mystery that the president needs to clarify. Or perhaps we need another presidential commission to inquire into the matter.

Just as mystifying is the fact that the gazette was issued while the president was not even in Sri Lanka. Perhaps he signed it just before he left. Don’t even get me started on the fact that he waltzed off to China on Monday, after the rioting started on Sunday! And he didn’t seem to feel the need to rush back. That’s three countries he’s visited in the last 30 days, during which time he also celebrated his son’s wedding.

Even more incredible is the fact that the GOSL is yet to make any concrete move to ban Islamic State or the acronyms it’s known by – ISIS and ISIL – which on 23rd April claimed to have carried out the Easter Sunday bombings. Since then, it has become abundantly clear that the NTJ and perhaps other groups have been directly linked and supported by ISIL. Yet, at the time this article is being written, ISIL remains an unbanned organisation in Sri Lanka, and there doesn’t even seem to be a discussion going on within the GOSL to ban it. This is quite extraordinary, considering the fact that more than 60 countries around the world have banned ISIL, including India, Pakistan, China, the USA, Russia, the UK, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Indonesia and Malaysia. The United Nations and European Union banned it as far back as 2004, a full 15 years ago!

But perhaps the GOSL’s reluctance to ban international terrorist organisations runs deeper. Remember the attack on Sri Lanka’s cricket team in Lahore in 2009? The Pakistani government blamed the radical Afghan-Pakistani group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi for the attack. This group is currently banned by the United Nations, USA, Pakistan, UK, Australia, Canada, etc. But here in Sri Lanka, to my knowledge, our government has not seen fit to ban it. No matter that they wounded eight members of the team and one of the umpires, and killed six Pakistani policemen guarding the team.

What that practically means is that groups such as ISIL and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi could operate with impunity in our own country even now.

In fact, take the head of ISIL, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He personally appeared in a video in which he praised the Easter Sunday attackers and spoke with great pride of the carnage that ISIL engineered in Sri Lanka. Our president actually addressed him directly and asked him to leave Sri Lanka alone. But incredibly, al-Baghdadi himself is not a wanted man in Sri Lanka. The GOSL has not instituted any legal proceedings against him, or sought an international or local arrest warrant on him. Of course, it’s highly unlikely that such a legal move would result in al-Baghdadi’s capture. But these are steps that any rational government should take. Such steps could be initiated by any number of branches of the government – Police, Sri Lanka Army, Attorney General, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, etc.

Al-Baghdadi could fly in to Bandaranaike International Airport and ask for an on-arrival tourist visa right now, and the only thing preventing him would be the alertness of the immigration officer at BIA!

The same goes for the GOSL’s attitude towards other organisations in Sri Lanka which practice terrorism, including militant Buddhist organisations that have for years sown terror among Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike. The heads of several of these organisations have quite belatedly been arrested now. But why on earth wasn’t this done before they created this week’s mayhem? In fact, they’ve been advocating anarchy and destruction for many years now, but governments and police alike have looked the other way. Is the government giving any thought to banning some of these organisations?

By the way, what is the world is the Willayath As Seylani, which is the third organisation proscribed in this gazette? I don’t think the general public is quite familiar with this organisation, although we were introduced to the other two by the State Minister for Defense three weeks ago. What role did it have in this mess? Who is its leader? Were any of the suicide bombers members of it? Is it also connected to ISIL? In which parts of Sri Lanka is it active?

What many people find really tiring is that over the last three weeks there have been more and more questions raised with regard to the conduct of so many who are drawing salaries from the public purse to protect us. What in the world have they been doing for three weeks, and what are they doing now?

(Niresh Eliatamby spent nearly two decades covering Sri Lanka’s civil war)

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Latest comments

  • 8

    Who said that terrorists organization are banned
    BBS is not banned but protected Gnanasata went in for contempt of court not for his terrorist action
    For his terrorism e get state supper and possibly will get presidential pardon as a reward

    • 9

      American puppet Bondscam Ranil needs to be impeached for misleading the police and judiciary by saying that the law of the land does not permit arrest of terrorists who faught overseas or banning their organizations.
      Ranil has undermined all institutions in the country also by appointing people like the former IGP clown Pujith.
      undermining the judicial and police institutions was done to then pass the infamous Counter-Terrorism Bill that was drafted by Ranil’s US handlers.

      • 3

        It is now clear that during Mahinda’s regime defence ministry funds were used to support Muslim terrorist organisations to attack Tamils and Buddhist terrorist organisations to attack Muslims. Present government turned a blind eye on them leading to the present situation. Though government says that all terrorists have been apprehended, people are not prepared to swallow it. Maybe that those who actively carried out tasks are caught, but the king pins are still at large. How can Hisbullah deny no involvement in terrorism, when in his home town of Kattankudi, which is about only two square miles in area, a thirty acre land used for training terrorists with a 100 feet high observation post has been found. There are fresh allegations against him regarding murder and burial of 35 Tamils using his men, and purchase of a 500 acre land in Mannar using ill acquired money. When there is an attempt to bring a no-confidence motion against Badurdeen, both Mahinda and Basil are against it, obviously having received money from this culprit. How can Badurdeen deny no involvement in terrorism, when a land in Vannativillu where he was busy settling Muslims, which used for training terrorists was discovered. There is also an allegation made that there was clandestine activity from his house in Mannar along the coast, where there had been suspicious movement of boats. If the government and opposition are serious in eliminating Islamic terrorism, they must arrest these two as well as other politicians, businessmen and professionals who had a hand in this, with out shielding them just because they had paid large sums of money to leading Sinhala politicians in the government and opposition, and maybe to officials. Otherwise you cannot stop people taking the law into their hands, a waning that has come from none other than Malwate Mahanayake Thero.

        • 3

          The main culprits Mahinda and Gota helped the Muslim terrorist to grow. majority of the people know about it but scared to talk about it. If Gota is elected as the President. then it will be the destruction of the country. Sirisena, Ranil and Mahinda are responsible for the present state of affairs. So long as the communal culture exists in Sri Lanka similar attacks will continue

  • 10

    It to so long to ban these organizations because Bondscam Ranil was misleading everyone and undermining the police and saying that Sri lanka needs a new Counter Terrorism Bill,
    This New Counter Terrorism Bill was drafted in Washington to promote its Special Forces Agreement (SOFA) agenda in Lanka, to enable US troops to operate in Sri Lanka an turn it into a colony with a US military base in Trinco/

    • 0

      Our biggest blunder was committed by the Kitchen Brain of a PM who in the early ’60s sent off the Americans packing from China Bay in Trincomalee. Had the Americans remained in the country, we would have benefited immensely as it would have been nothing for the Western Forces to develop a 22 mil population. No our foolish Kitchen Brains wanted to become the Queen of the Non Aligned Movement and appease the Indians who later destabilized our country nurturing the LTTE. At least now that the country has been invaded by the Chinese and the Indians, it is definitely better to have the World Policeman to insure the safety of us. Let America take over Trincomalee.

      • 2

        There were no American bases in Trincomalee in the 1960s. (JRJ worked towards having one around 1980 but India sabotaged his project.)
        The British naval base in Trincomalee and the air base in Katunayake were closed down under SWRDB in 1957.
        Mrs B nationalized the oil companies in 1961 and there was an a failed coup involving pro-West elements in the security forces in 1962.
        The Indians invaded once on invitation.
        The Chinese are not , or not yet, so stupid as to invade.
        Have you the foggiest idea of how the World Policeman is screwing up country after country and is getting screwed up in the process?

        • 0

          Gamini probably learnt his history in school. Poor guy probably never heard of Somarama sadhu either

  • 5

    ISIS is funded, owned and operated by the US, Saudi Arabia, the American proxy in the Arab world and Israel at this time, so difficult to ban it! The real culprits of the Easter Sunday must be identified for peace to return to Lanka as people are confused and so attacking Muslims..
    Saudi Arabia and US knew about the Easter attacks before they happened because they planned it to create havoc in the Sri Lanka and bring in US troops and set up a base.

    Lankans need to be told this because the IS story is just a smokesceen and people dont believe it. Also US embassy staff were found with Bomb materials by police sniffer dogs at JAIC Hilton and US embassy should be searched for bombs. The real culprits of the Easter Sunday must be identified for peace to return to Lanka.

    • 1

      Some outside elements seem to be behind this crime, and the on going attacks on Muslims part of this evil plot. People are sending anti Muslim propaganda against Muslims, and even lists to boycott Muslim businesses that have been here for decades. These are innocent people who have contributed to the progress of our nation. Could this be an effort to make Sri Lanka yet another Myanmar? This must be part of the anti Muslim campaign started from nations like the US, where rich pro Israel Americans have contributed millions of dollars to wage this world wide campaign. Israel sells weapons to the brutal military in Myanmar, so they benefit from that massacre. Saudi Arabia is definitely behind many of these Sunni terrorist groups, and ISIS may be financed by them, trained by Israel. Why has Israel been tending to these terrorists who were injured in Syria?

      “Israel has opened its borders with Syria in order to provide medical treatment to Nusra Front and al-Qaida fighters wounded in the ongoing civil war, according to The Wall Street Journal.

      The prominent American newspaper reported that Nusra Front, the Sunni Muslim al-Qaida offshoot which is currently fighting the Iranian-backed axis of Bashar Assad and Hezbollah, “hasn’t bothered Israel since seizing the border area last summer” along the Golan Heights.”
      Jerusalem Post

      Where there is trouble around the world, you can expect the US/Israel/Saudi Arabia (axis of evil) at the bottom of it.

    • 0

      DRS, please stop posting bombastic rubbish. It isn’t funny anymore.

  • 2

    Niresh Eliatamby,

    RE: Banning Terrorist Organisations; Why Did It Take So Long?

    Because they are religions, cults, when in fact they are terrorist organizations.

    Sinhala Buddhism , Tamil Hinduism Christianity and Islam all have terrorist wings. They were known by various names such as BBS, Siva Sena, Catholicism , Nazism, Wahhabism etc, ..

    Wahhabism is a Satanic Ideology, per Islamic sources.

    Scholar from al-Azhar: Wahhabism is a Satanic Faith, the Horn of the Devil that Muhammad Predicted


    Dan Dennett: Responding to Pastor Rick Warren


    http://www.ted.com Philosopher Dan Dennett calls for religion — all religion — to be taught in schools, so we can understand its nature as a natural phenomenon. Then he takes on The Purpose-Driven Life, disputing its claim that, to be moral, one must deny evolution.

    TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers are invited to give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes — including speakers such as Jill Bolte Taylor, Sir Ken Robinson, Hans Rosling, Al Gore and Arthur Benjamin. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design, and TEDTalks cover these topics as well as science, business, politics and the arts. Watch the Top 10 TEDTalks on TED.com,

  • 4

    Niresh Eliatamby asks {“Banning Terrorist Organisations; Why Did It Take So Long?”}
    Please Niresh, after spending nearly two decades covering Sri Lanka’s civil war, please tell us:
    It is CLAIMED (Caps to stress) that the rightwing extreme Sinhala-Buddhist Nationalist Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), formed in 2012, patronised by the GoSL of the time, edged the ‘tragedy’ that was 2019 Easter Sunday.
    PS: Agreed that the ‘tragedy’ might have occurred anyway.
    BBS is Islamophobic and foul mouths Muslims. BBS goons allegedly set Muslim Businesses on fire and participated in the anti-Muslim 2014 Aluthgama Pogrom.
    Ever wondered as to why BBS was never banned?

    • 0

      Untill it is proved in a court of law , you are “innocent” and only a suspect .

    • 1

      To the governments BBS is “our terrorist”.

  • 2

    Ranil was ready to hand over the 1/3 of the country to VP. There is no way he can deal with an ISIS threat. Sirisena is almost as bad; as we saw with Fonseka, he does not appoint capable people to the security services. Luckily the SLA is capable. Besides that, the cooperation of the Muslims is also vital.

  • 1

    It takes Sinhala pussies time to lick their b*lls. It takes even more time for them to dry from the saliva. Does this answer you question thambi?

  • 0

    Terrorism is sponsored by politicians.

  • 2

    Well written by Niresh Eliatamby and a timely call for the public of Sri Lanka to know the ground situation. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe acknowledged in public that many Muslim youths returned from Syria after completing ISIS training. This is a serious matter that had been ignored where a responsible government was in total ignorance of an impeding threat to National Security. Another crucial fact is that billions of rupees had already been illegally transferred into the hands of those three proscribed organizations locally also a serious lapse. There were many ISIS training sessions carried out in many parts of the country went unnoticed also a serious lapse on the government’s part. Accusations had already aimed at those three Muslim leaders holding higher positions believe to have their hands on all these issues not been investigated due to political pressures from the top. GOSL would have been in their own dream world without focusing on all terrorists activities is a historical blunder. Decision making mechanism of the President and Prime Minster is too weak even after wakened up from their deep slumber of the dreadful Easter Sunday attacks on 21/4.

  • 4


    Banning Terrorist Organisations; Why Did It Take So Long?

    *** I dont know what you are talking about. Fancy words . But without removing the root causes of the emergence or creation of such organiastions banning an organisation which has mushroomed to react would not produce any tangible resutls. They will simply go underground. Is it any wonder that the GOSL”s so called belated ( in your words not many others) action has made mobs to attack muslim houses , businesses and palces of worship in the last few days and 500 targets at the last count. The mobs were emboldened by Governments knee jerk reaction which has produced more fertile ground and dont forget it is an international terror organisaiation.
    In my view it is the end product of 70 years of unabated BRUTALITY on he minorities which is the root cause. .

  • 1

    The delayed action in issuing the extra ordinary gazette notification to prescribe the two-terrorist organization responsible for the Easter Sunday attack can be attributed to the lukewarm attitude of state officials. This indifference attitude is reflected in the failure to avert the mob violence in the past few days in the North Western Province and Minuwanoda Town, three weeks after the main incident.
    Further, this lethargy approach has its root to the failure of the State Intelligence Service to penetrate the underground activities of the two prescribed error groups in the past. Instead making some valid observations on the core issues, the political hierarchy cannot pass the buck for crisis decisions to any alternate source of authority.
    The religious extremism of any kind leads to racial disharmony and violence. It is against the fundamental principal of customary international law sthat specifies religious freedom. Hence, any organization with labels of religions that advocates violence should be prescribed without a discrimination to allow all citizens to enjoy the practice of their own religion.

    • 2

      Siri Fernando
      Well said.
      But please correct your last line to read as ‘proscribed’ instead of prescribed, so that all citizens may freely practice their own religion.
      Thank you.

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