29 September, 2023


Sri Lanka’s Easter Tragedy: When The Deep State Gets Out Of Its Depth 

By Rajan Hoole

Dr. Rajan Hoole

Extracts from Rajan Hoole’s Sri Lanka’s Easter Tragedy: When the Deep State gets out of its Depth: 

Our history of impunity, especially since the ascent to power of J.R. Jayewardene in 1977, brings us to the strange and largely un-mourned disappearance of the law. The Easter eruption, the evidence suggests, was a gamble the protagonists stumbled into in confronting the arithmetical realities of the coming presidential election. Their expectations appear to have gone awry. What transpired was in effect, a second attempt at disenfranchisement, this time of the Muslims. The Plantation Tamils were disenfranchised in 1949, as a follow up to the 1948 Citizenship Act.  

Until the war and militarisation there was no indication of state agencies taking the side of Wahabis against the Sufis. Vigilantism against Sufis was inspired by positions taken by the local Jamayathul Ulema. The role of the state agencies began when Muslim youths who received military training in the fight against the LTTE and were patronised by intelligence agencies went back to Kattankudy and were then recruited into a more stringent Wahhabi movement. This could be seen in the names by which several Wahabi militants were known: Police Faiz, Army Mohideen, Army Niyas etc. With a younger generation of fiery Wahabi preachers who appealed to these militarily trained youth, who were originally patronised by state intelligence agencies and the PNM, a bridge was set in place between intelligence handlers and the young preachers.

We give the main facts of the [10th March 2017] attack from OIC Kattankudy, Ariabandu Wedegedara’s B-Report of the following day. About 5.30 PM Aboobucker Mohamed Munafir  with his cousin Fowmi went on a motorcycle and reached Aliyar Junction where … they saw a crowd of about 50 youths in orange shirts coming along the street from Nooraniya Mosque … They were the people of Zahran Moulavi and were beating people on their way. As they came near, Zahran pulled out a knife and tried to stab Munafir. In attempting to resist the knife, Munafir received a stab in the left side of his stomach. Then Zahran’s younger brother Rilvan and a person called Niyas attacked Munafir and his cousin with iron rods. The two were then thrown on the ground and trampled… Army Mohideen pulled Fameel inside his compound, pressed a knife against his neck and said, “We came ready for everything.”   

One of the early hints that the State regarded Zahran as a protected person came from a journalist in the Times Group. This journalist had learnt that a state intelligence unit (apparently there were two active in the area, Police and Military Intelligence) had informed the Police that Zahran was hiding at a particular house in Kattankudy; the Police however took no action. The intelligence source added that Zahran had been removed and taken elsewhere in a vehicle belonging to a senior Muslim politician.  

Finally on 30th June 2017, the Kattankudy Police did what it should have done in March… Deputy OIC Jeyaseelan referred to their request to Emigration of 17th March to arrest Zahran should he attempt to embark at the airport. He added that investigations are still going on and requested the Magistrate to issue [further] arrest warrants for the following suspects: 

10.) Mohamed Cassim Mohamed Zahran, 11.) Mohamed Cassim Mohamed Rilvan, 12.) Mohamed Mohideen, alias Army Mohideen.

We encountered in the foregoing a situation where the judge had very limited or no control over police investigations into a crime of considerable magnitude, but is practically forced to make orders on the basis of these investigations, however defective and politicised he knew them to be. But this is what the 1972 Constitution, which reduced the judiciary to a government department, expects him to do. It is not for him to transgress on the work of other departments.

Thus the Magistrate who knew the criminal character of the NTJ members detained and the harm they were likely to do, was hamstrung by the Police being under political pressure to terminate inquiries and release the detainees. 


While the post July 1983 Deep State under J.R. Jayewardene did most things out of public view, it was under the Rajapaksa presidency with his brother Gotabhaya as defence secretary, aided by the openly partisan Chief Justices Sarath Silva and Mohan Peiris, that it attained a new menacing visibility. Among its actions were attempts to cover up the 2006 Five Students and ACF killings in Trincomalee, the attacks on journalists, the 2009 killing of Lasantha Wickrematunge and the disappearance of Prageeth Eknelligoda. The Sinhalese could no longer ignore it. That helped to bring down the Rajapaksa presidency by a whisker in January 2015. The price was to install someone who had no clear position on the Deep State and was ultimately cowed down by it. 

On 9th April 2019 Sisira Mendis, Chief of National Intelligence, received a letter from Director SIS, SDIG Nilantha Jayawardena, sent the previous day, advising him of a letter from foreign intelligence sources on 4th April on an ‘alleged plan’ for an ‘alleged attack’.

[Jayawadena’s memo of 11th April 2019] listed out the hideouts of Zahran (Oluvil), Rilvan (Araiampathy) and Army Mohideen (Pasikkudah), in the Amparai and Batticaloa Districts, and stated that they had not got information from the ground of plans to attack Catholic Churches. One finds remarkable the accuracy of information from India and the lack of it locally.  

It was the duty of the President (who had virtually cut off the IGP after the latter got cold feet over carrying out his boss’ improper order to transfer IP Silva out of the CID at ‘putative prime minister’ Mahinda Rajapaksa’s behest), to swallow his pride and order the IGP to do his duty. Indeed, the IGP had the full authority and resources to act on his own, but servility to political bosses in which the Police had been coached since 1972, left him paralysed. The obvious first step was to broadcast a public warning.   

After the results of the Local Council elections in February [2018, where Rajapaksa’s SLPP polled 44.65 percent nationally, not good enough to be elected president], one of the main concerns of the parties dependent on extreme Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism was the Muslim vote.  Rajapaksa’s unexpected defeat in 2015 owed to the intervention of Sobitha Thero. The suppression or deflection of the Muslim vote, and the reinforcement of Sinhalese extremist support, we may say was why political actors chose to capitalise on and exacerbate the anti-Muslim violence in Ampara and Digana that began with commonplace incidents. But the limit was quickly set by Sinhalese-Buddhist revulsion, articulated by persons horrified at their religion being desecrated in this way. 

An early intervention during the March 2018 violence was by Galkande Dhammananda Thero, who had warned against anti-Muslim violence in 2013. In his response to the 2018 violence, he quoted from Buddha’s teaching about attitude to victory: “Victory breeds hatred in the conquered. The defeated live in sorrow. Giving up both victory and defeat, the appeased live in peace.” It was a defiant challenge to the triumphalism of the Rajapaksa allies.

The failure of the [October 2018] coup meant a curtailment of options for the Sirisena-Rajapaksa camp that had initiated it. There were two indicators that something nasty was in the air. One was the discovery by the CID that was investigating the Mawanella Buddha statues affair of a possible training camp in Puttalam District. The other was the hushed up attempt on the life of Taslim, Minister Kabir Hashim’s secretary. 

We described earlier that the information on the impending attacks was given to the SIS by India on 4th April 2019. At this point President Sirisena had isolated himself, especially from the IGP; the one person who appeared to have ready access to him seemed to be Nilantha Jayawardena, SDIG SIS. Jayawardena briefed the President latest by 11th April of the impending attack. The President left for India and Singapore on 16th April and returned after being told about the blasts.

President Sirisena clearly did not take the pre-warnings seriously; that would have set an example to the rest. If the President did not care, why should his men who depended on him for furtherance their careers? Prime Minister Wickremasinghe, if he was told, decided not to poach on President Sirisena’s territory and bring about another constitutional imbroglio. It was criminal negligence – criminal and negligence both.

We state our main conjecture, which despite its considerable explanatory value is yet to be backed by hard evidence: The origin of the Easter bombing was the perception that a free Muslim vote would impede the return to power of the Rajapaksas. Its purpose, as the unfolding drama suggested, was to use the anger of Christian communities affected to leverage a wider retaliation against Muslims. If so, it suggests the involvement of a section of the Deep State, something many politicians knowingly tolerated.  To overcome a free Muslim vote, required creating conditions where most Muslims would not vote (like the Northerners in 2005) or would vote under an overhanging threat.  

This brings us once more to Army Mohideen, whom we first encountered in the Kattankudy incident of March 2017. Mohideen, we said, was accessible and was picked up by the Police soon after the Easter blasts. On 26th April 2019 (e.g. ITV Report), the international media disclosed a police raid on a house in Sammanthurai where chemicals and bomb making materials were found with which they associated Army Mohideen. OIC Wedagedara told the PSC that Mohideen was an army informant and also linked to a senior politician in the 2015 elections. That link with Military Intelligence entailed that Mohideen could not work independently or cross the interests of the Army for many years.  

Interestingly, Army Commander Senanayake has practically refused to look at the possibility of local origins of the Easter terror, and has dogmatically stuck with foreign connections, insisting that the Zahran group has travelled to Bangalore, Kashmir and Kerala, without supporting evidence (BBC interview 3 May.2019). It matches the Army lobbying for greater investment in intelligence, when its performance points to incompetence or worse.

On the whole we are being asked to believe what is not just highly improbable, but almost impossible. That is one of the characteristics of the Deep State’s actions, where behaviour predicated by minimal respect for law and rationality has been thrown overboard. Entertaining the delusion of total impunity, these actions were reckless, lacking in foresight and a total absence of humanity. It takes us back to where we began. Observance of the spirit of the law must be taken very seriously and reminds us of the discarded judicial oath ‘to do right to all manner of people without fear or favour.’

In the foregoing what we have established is that the Easter Tragedy, although not necessarily a conspiracy, was enabled to happen because from the time of independence, the law has been treated as dispensable when it comes to partisan interests of narrow nationalist ideology. It enabled sections of the powerful to form shifting alliances to further particular goals of Sinhalisation. The Deep State exists because its aims draw wide sympathy across the political spectrum, from Jayewardene’s UNP on the Right, the SLFP and SLPP, to the muddled Left of Weerawamsa and the PNM. Its strength is indicated in the lack of public indignation and the silence of the political establishment in the face of outrages like past episodes of communal violence, the more recent torment of Muslims, and the barely masked indifference to examine and reflect on the mass graves from the second JVP insurgency reminiscent of Pol Pot’s Cambodia.  

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  • 6

    Rajan, though I am not an expert and did not have all these information, I suggested the same on the day of tragedy. The deep state, politicians, bureaucrats, underground mafia and higher ups in armed services were all aware , except for the victims and their families . That is Lankan “Low and Odor.” The same people now show up in public and media and pretend to be innocent, pointing finger at each other, exploiting the tragedy for votes and nominating commission after commissions. (last count is four . The retarded fan club, (here in CT too ) of this politicians are happy to parrot the concocted version. After the election circus the victims, will be long forgotten with no one to care. If I may add to your view, though the killings were executed by “shit heads”, Rajapaksas and MS knowingly allowed it to take place. The million $ question is , can it be worse than what we think . Did they play a direct or indirect role in the original planning????

    • 8

      You are correct chiv! To whom we are going to report and from whom we are going to have the Justice? The wrath of the victims will not allow to be peaceful to this Hell of a country. Its
      Terrible and and amvery sorry for those souls and their beloved ones.???

      • 1

        This article describes the local deep state but does not mention the foreign deep state that wa behind the Easter attacks, and ignores the fact that the Easter attacks constituted Economic Terrorism against Sri Lanka, as well as, against Chinese investment an Maritime Corporation with Lanka.. 4 senior Chinese marine Scientists were killed in the attacks and Shangri La hotel like Hong Kong was attacked with 2 suicide bombers including the Leader, Zaharan, pointing clearly to the real targets of the Easter Carnage and its Masterminds.
        Weaponizing religion and using the local deep state was a means to the end and part of the cover up of the foreign masterminds.

        The Easter attacks staged and funded by Saudi and US Special Operations Forces (SOF) to set up US military bases in the northeast of Sri Lanka, after SOFA and MCC Compact was signed, used Muslims and Tamils, minorities, and their corrupt politicians as the Cat’s paw of the US game in Sri Lanka – to weaponize ethnic and religious faultlines to advance the US project of caputuring Sri Lanka for its Cold War in the Indian Ocean against, China, Iran and the rise of Asia.
        The cover up of the cover up of the foreign hands in the Easter Carnage is still on-going bu the people of Lanka know the truth and this is why they have rejected US puppet Bondscam Ranil and will soon reject US citizen Gota Jarapassa.

        • 1

          Shamil got the point largely correct……

    • 4

      In a country almsot everything in terms of law and order is ruined to all ends, we can expect lot more.
      President himself kept the minister of law and order by the time, the bomb took the lives of over 260 innocient prayers
      President had then been well aware of the fact that pre warning came from Indian and local intelligence groups.
      President had deliberately been away out of country, neglecting the issues. These trips were not official, but just family trips on the costs of the people.
      President returned to home, after 12 hours or more after the man slaughter in the country, evne if the chances for him to return bit earlier were available- that showed his LOVE and care towards the nation:
      President becamse the lap dog of his former heads, not thinking twice.
      President became the number one enemy of ruling PM
      PM and IGP were not allowed to enter the discussions held on NATIONAL security on the command of the President as Defence secretary revealed it to the nation.
      SO NOW WITH ALMOST ALL RELIABLE INFO ABOUT THE PRESIDENT s FAILURE being revealed, HE IS STILL IN HIS SEAT. This would not have been possible in a CIVILIZED culture, nor in any country in Europe, nor in any country in progressive asia.

  • 5

    The state was aware of the impending attacks on the Christian community and particularly the Roman Catholic Community and they deliberately failed to act because they did not care.
    There is nothing to hide from this. The state failed to realize the power of the Church that it has with the International community.
    All can be forgiven and the past forgotten in the words of ” Our Lord Jesus” ” Father forgive them for they do not know what they do.”
    Those who are responsible for this lapse will pay for it very heavily either in this life or the next.
    Man will forgive, God will not.

    • 0

      ‘Man will forgive, God will not.

      I’ve always thought that Man is far more moral and forgiving than God.

      • 2

        Bawa, may be your god !!!!!!!! The god that you worship in dark corners while watching porn on your mobile phone. What do you know about morality and morals. ?????????????????
        It is a pity that innocent people were the victims of the Easter Sunday tragedy in such a lovely country. It should have been wankers like you who should be picking up the pieces and not Fathers, Mothers, Sons & Daughters.
        Bawa, you sound like a midnight wanker and is that your past time. Hope not.
        Anyway learn more about morality and morals and stop looking at porn at night.
        Sri lanka is a lovely country and people like you make it look hideous.

    • 2

      today ther eare speculations that it was a caculated act of the US.
      There are some others iwthin the country speculate it to be an act of all three leaders (Mahinda Jarapakshe, Sirisena and Ranil Wickramasinghe).
      And also people are right saying that lanken leaders could do lot more to save the lives if they respected the pre warnings sent to them by both foreign and local intelligence experts.
      But saddest reality as revealed to that parliamentary select committee was President’s stupidity not to have invited PM, State minister of Defence and IGP to regular sessions of the security council which according to FM Sarath fonseka, held on a regular manner also in post war period.
      Who on the earth, President thought, the kind of sessions be kept away from PM and IGP ?
      And Defence Secretary made it very clear, he was helpless the way, how he had to face the issues with incumbent president shortly before each meeting sessions.
      And he helplessly revealed that he as the secretary had no power over to decide on anything, but to obey the SILLy ORDERs of commander of chief, none other than uneducated President Sirisena.
      So now with all the cards being before us, to hang on silly speculations, is a joke right.
      I think, THIS NATION should go on protest asking President be HUNG for his total ignorance and mislead of the IGP and PM regarding the intelligence warning:
      Then only, at least next leader would learn that the duty of a leader should be to PROTECT its citzens as sworn immediately after his appointment.

  • 2

    Excellent conspiracy theory………….Good for a movie…………This is similar to the theory of deep state allowing 9/11 twin tower attacks (though there are some failures said to have occurred due to the rivalry between CIA and FBI) to target Muslims.

    • 1

      I also came to the same conclusion! Trying to make a profit by manipulating ethnic tension is no different from hidden political agendas to ride on them. I don’t deny the possibility that, at least, some of the post Easter Bombing attack on Muslim communities were politically driven (to win over Catholic community) but the suggestion that the security failure was a result of a political decision to scare Muslims is a ridiculous idea. MY 3 & SLFP was trying very hard to cultivate their loyalty; not to distance them. However, it is very possible that the MY 3’s efforts to win over Muslim community from UNP contributed to overlook increasingly accumulating security concerns at the political level (MY 3). Details revealed so clearly show the total national security was hinging on two individuals: MY 3 & Nilantha Jayawrdena. This is a huge mistake that could have put the whole nation at a great peril, had an enemy was aware of it.

      The security failure was caused by nothing but incompetence both at political level (My 3) and at the intelligence level.

      • 1

        Dear D. P.,
        How to say this while respecting the limits set by the moderators?
        When you researched the speeches of Ajith Colonne, didn’t you come across the distinction that he makes between “wagakeema” and “wagaveema”? Intelligence has the responsibility to report unambiguously, but cannot act – that being the prerogative of the executive.
        Another distinction he makes is between “dadi” (meaning “extreme”) and “krura” (meaning cruel or sadistic). This he says is where our war commanders and forces were at fault. Extreme action (he was speaking there of quelling civil disobedience, wasn’t he?) is sometimes necessary and the commander who cannot take responsibility is not suitable for his job.
        I know that I’d probably chicken out, so I’m not applying for the job.
        However, he condemns sadism and cruelty to animals, prisoners, but more than all else to female combatants. And as you observed in relation to the Kumar David article, this intelligence teacher of Nilantha was always calm and collected.
        On the other hand, My3 has just not been acting rationally. A weak man pretending to be strong. Time to replace him with the calm, collected and kindly man who has no illusions about the need for firmness. We’ve got to start at the top.

  • 2

    Dear DP,
    I agree that there may not have been a specific decision on the part of the many Sinhalese politicians who clearly had awareness of the looming threat.
    However, what has happened must be clearly classified as CRIMINAL NEGLIGENCE. [Edited out]

    • 2

      Sinhala Man,
      i am bit worred of NK not having done much regarding their propganda yet.
      When woudl they reach out the rural folks.
      When would NK reveal the nation, that HE WILL contest and under what party.
      We are very worried of not knowing all these points yet.
      We support further a candidate out of traditional parties.
      I cant understand why SO CALLED alternative movements seem to be not supporting NK s agenda which I think is th eonly option before the people today. Why I am telling that is, until now, nor an elected leader so far has beena ble to succeed abolishing the EP.
      So, with a leader getting elected, it will become much easier, if people voted him or her knowing the facts.
      Rural people would never be easy to see this right, since their brains are already manipulated by Derana and Hiru TV channels by feeding them with utter lies but as FAIRY tales about Rajapkshes magnificiance.
      What do you tihnk about all these Mr SM, I saw you were too sitting next to them on the very day, you guys got together to say, that you will all fight for a common goal. Now NK has been isolated for his own reasons. ALl in all, we need to know the facts about the ground situation.

      • 3

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      • 1

        desperateasnoother ,

        The real race is going to be among three popular candidates !
        They are : Sajith , Gota and Anura . Simply put , largely rural
        vote base don’t see anything else ! Executive presidency
        already deflated to a required level and only a bit more to be
        done to make it all full flat tyres . But all these three candidates
        exhibit it as if it is still fresh as 1978 for a reason ! Naga is by the
        way , a nice guy but only a few understand him . His approach is
        the ideal shot but it distances the voter from his master to a
        massive scale on all areas of administrations , making him feel
        individually worthless but collectively very successful . We still are
        a price-bargain society and not a one price – super market
        customers as such ! So , it is still too early for Naga types in my
        view . Another factor is , our dependence on outside hands for
        survival , which is a force to reckon I believe .

  • 2

    From the start I doubted that it was the IS that planned the job. It did not take long to dispel the IS conspiracy theory.
    But there was a plan, and exactly what it was is hard to figure out.
    Even if the ‘deep state’ was involved, there probably are other interests working at the depths of the deep state.
    Let us explore who the most likely major beneficiary of a state of instability in this country will be. Even the direct beneficiaries of Islamophobia are likely to be puppets in the strings of forces that are far more dangerous.

    • 1

      Thanks, SJ.
      It’s sort of now or never for civilisation in Sri Lanka, don’t you think? Since 1948, we’ve been going steadily downhill. This country could have been so much better had it not been for mistakes made by us all.
      No doubt, we may be able to make yet another salvage attempt in 2024, but we would have lost yet more by then. Penalties will inexorably be exacted from us for having been fools. So much that gets lost can never be regained.
      What had been edited out, above, were links to videos by Dr Ajith Colonne.

      • 3

        Dear Sinhala_Man, If you want to make an impact get to talking pointedly.

        When you say that our country could have been so much better had it not been for mistakes made, you are being wishy-washy. They were not mistakes, they were wrongdoings.

      • 2

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  • 2

    The writer has missed or picked and chose some information. Back in 2017, CID had informed the AG department that they should take action against Zahran. But two officials in the AG dept kept aloof without doing anything about the issue. The two officials were Muslims. It may have been total incompetency. Anyway CID had sought AG help to arrest Zahran.

    And I am pretty issue if CID arrested Zahran before the easter bomb attack, the gov would be accused by Muslims who write here, Rajan Hoole and other Tamil nationalists, UN for harassing an innocent Muslim.

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