21 June, 2024

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That Damned Elusive Mastermind

By Sanja de Silva Jayatilleka

Sanja de Silva Jayatilleka

“Is he in heaven or is he in hell? Or hiding in plain sight, who can tell?” ~ With apologies to ‘The Scarlet Pimpernel’ by Baroness Orczy

The central theme of a brand-new Netflix series called The Diplomat, much acclaimed already, is a false flag event which finally turns out to be commissioned by the personality who benefitted politically, with the same highly placed politician drowning out all other voices by shouting “Russia first, second and third” at every opportunity as responsible for the death of 41 British sailors. He insists on a plan to bomb Russia as the culprit, having had cynically ‘masterminded’ the hiring of a Russian mercenary for the original massacre. Such a scenario is obviously not inconceivable, and makes for successful television.

For us in Sri Lanka though, life was much more tragically dramatic. Even art couldn’t conceive of the killing worshippers in Church on a religious holiday. Evil reigned here together with self-interest on the 21st of April 2019. On the fourth anniversary of the Easter massacre, as people lined the roads with placards in many parts of the island and Mass was celebrated around the country, we were reminded of the uniquely evil nature of that tragic event.

The families of the victims still weep and mourn, their hurt spilling over in painful tears. They express their disappointment at the lack of progress on the investigation into the Easter Sunday Bombings of 2019. Justice for the victims has proved to be oddly elusive since the 21st of April that year. 4 years on, the authorities seem to be still staring at a blank wall, unable to connect the dots and follow the trail of evidence in the public domain and those collected at various commissions and by official investigations. 

The Mastermind

If as the Cardinal and the former Attorney-General say, there was in fact a ‘Mastermind’ other than the ringleader of the suicide squad, he or she made a bad call. Whichever way you look at it, resorting to this particular strategy wasn’t smart.

If as is alleged, this Mastermind was also responsible for the “political links”, that too didn’t work out as a prizewinning strategy since all the gains turned out to be short-lived. Political strategists are prized professionals but their success depends on their discernment of the local realities. It takes intimate knowledge of the personalities involved and a reading of the respective country’s people as a whole, their sensitivities, the limits of their tolerance and the level of rebelliousness in times of stress. 

Considering the failure of the project other than to get international ISIS to claim the carnage, (hardly making a ripple internationally), the Mastermind wasn’t all that, except utterly devoid of humanity. No Islamic group gained anything at all by the random bombing of Churches on Easter Sunday. And yet some people thought it was worth the tragedy, and some people decided to look the other way. That these people who looked the other way by ignoring intelligence about the event, well before the event, were the guardians of this country’s security is a tragedy reaching a whole new dimension. That an entire stratum of intelligence officials, coincidentally thought, quite separately from each other, that the higher authorities who could have prevented it had no need to know, is the most frightening thing of all. They, the lot of them, thought exactly the same thing and they were all so wrong. They ignored the most evil project to date on this island. 

In this country where people have seen decades of violence, it has always been about some grievance, with hot-blooded passion aroused by issues such as poverty, inequality, racism, discrimination. Everyone knows that there was no background of friction between the Catholics/Christians of Sri Lanka and the Muslim community. The Easter bombing seems to be the first time in our country’s modern history that such heinous acts were planned with cold-blooded calculation to take lives for no public purpose and without the support of any segment of the public.

The Mastermind, if there is one, is still at large, free to engage in further evil strategizing. This Mastermind has continued to elude the authorities, despite the hundreds who have been questioned, the pages of evidence and reports. He outsmarts our smartest intelligence operatives who are still struggling to name him or her. That is his or her real genius. 

The Conspiracy Theory

The public, horrified at the utterly unexpected outrage 4 years ago, are beginning to construct their own theories, partly out of frustration and partly because it’s impossible to leave such a gaping hole in their collective consciousness without filling it. Why did it happen? Why then? Who was behind it? What was the point of it all? Did they achieve what they wanted? Who won? We lost, as a people, so who won as a result of the mindless carnage? 

It didn’t just happen to the several hundred dead and injured and their families. It happened to us all in this country, to ordinary folk who had put their violent collective history behind them, and were looking forward to a different future after 30 years of war. Who pulled us back into such horror? 

The Catholic Church which had shown remarkable patience combined with resoluteness from the very beginning, displayed its intense displeasure at the failure of the government to provide any satisfactory answers at the Mass held on the 4th anniversary of the bombing.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith made a strident speech at the Mass commemorating the victims, stating that the Church had no trust in the present leadership to do what they promised. He read out from the pages of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry established to look into the Easter bombing. He reiterated the conclusions of the former Attorney General who said that the evidence points to a political conspiracy behind the event.

The people want to know what happened and are putting the pieces together in the absence of a credible official version. If the people lose faith in their institutions, it won’t be pretty, since that’s not all they are dealing with. The public already knows a lot of what is said to have happened, and going by what’s in the public domain, a political conspiracy is not outside the domain of logic and beyond the realm of possibility. 

So far, it has been worked out that some outside the ring of suicide bombers benefitted. About the bombers themselves we cannot know for sure, but their hope was ‘glory’ and we can’t know if they managed to achieve it. It may be the case that those others who obviously benefitted, did so completely by accident and horrified though they were together with the rest of us, the very circumstances may have contributed in some measure towards their success. And the most conspicuous success was political. Thus, the conspiracy theory.

To be fair, it’s not conclusive therefore, that those who succeeded as a result of an event, had anything to do with the event itself. In Israel, following the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by a rightwing Zionist infuriated by the signing of the Oslo peace accords and the handshake with Yasser Arafat in the White House Rose Garden, Mr. Netanyahu was about to lose the election to Leah Rabin, the slain PM’s widow and strong peace campaigner, when an extremist Palestinian group set off a bomb killing civilians on a bus. Mr. Netanyahu was hardly known as a friend of the group and was in fact its opposite, but he benefitted nevertheless by the swing of Jewish sentiment in its aftermath. He could convincingly run as the national security candidate and did so successfully. 

Justice delayed

The problem here is the delay in piecing together what happened, and issuing a credible official report which would offer some kind of closure to the victims. It would also offer some reassurance to the general public that some random group cannot go around bombing several different locations in a coordinated manner, killing and injuring hundreds of unarmed civilians and leave the authorities baffled four years after the event.  

The pieces of evidence in the public domain are so curious as to naturally provoke speculation. A few are bizarrely so. The top in this list is the repeated DNA testing of the wife of a member of the suicide squad, Sarah Jasmin, (now a household name), in order to ascertain whether she is alive or dead. When the first two tests came up positive for “alive”, in addition to reports that she was seen being taken away, the authorities persisted until a third test gave what they seem to have wanted, which was that she was dead. So, which is it? Is it two out of three, or the last one wins the day?

Next up, there’s the case of the reluctant suicide bomber Abdul Lathief Jameel Mohamed. Cardinal Ranjith read from a report that said that this particular would-be bomber of the Hotel Taj Samudra in Colombo, went in, turned on his heels and headed back to Dehiwala where he allegedly spent a few hours wandering around. His wife was located in a house in the area where military intelligence actually went in and spoke to her. The Cardinal asks on behalf of us all, why he wasn’t apprehended. They knew where he lived. Instead, he blew himself up elsewhere, in less exalted premises. 

The Cardinal said that he would like everyone to know that the Catholic Church “will remain watchful till justice is delivered”.

Things get further confused when reports appear to say that someone was heard on a telephone begging ISIS to claim the bombing, which they were reluctant to do. However, eventually they seem to have been persuaded. How bizarre can this get? 

How curious is it also, that no parliamentarian actually attended the Easter Mass that Sunday morning? No, I’m not wishing that they were there on that day. But they obviously weren’t as fervent in the observation of ‘days of obligation’ as the thousands of ordinary worshippers who did. How fortunate for them, who missed Mass that Sunday. 

People are connecting the dots every which way. If they are doing so incorrectly, it’s best that the authorities snap to it before the popular narrative takes hold. If they come to their own conclusions, that will have its own consequences. 

The many hands that went up in prayer, the many eyes that looked up in broken-hearted supplication offering praise and prayer for the delivery of justice for those innocent victims of unprecedented evil deserve closure. Fervent prayer has been known to generously deliver much more. 

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Latest comments

  • 3
    0

    We are well aware of the “Social” unrest that was “Created” in the country over a considerable period of time. The main “TARGET” was the Muslim community and their “Economic” prosperity. In developing that “Script”, the “Blue Eyed” “BOY” of Gota – Galagoda Athta Gnasara took the lead along with “Rathane” and several other “Politicos” including “Wimal W and Channa Jayasumane, Police Sluthes, and many more.

    Please remember very well there was no such “Scriptted” campaign against any of the “Christians” and the “Churches”.

    In that prevailed “Environment” (as stated above) my question is WHY did the “Muslims”(who have been already subjected to so much harassment) organize and plotted to attack “Christians and their Religious Institutions” who had NOTHING to do with that “Creation” of that “Environment”? Why they (Zaharan & clique) didn’t decide on “Buddhists” and their “Religious” places such as “Temples” – “Atamasthana”; “Dalada Maligawa”; “Kelaniya Temple”; “Gangarama” (Hunupitiya) “Samanthabadra” (of Nadimale)? and WHY on “Easter Sunday” without on a “Poya Day”? Just CURIOUS!

    • 7
      0

      Simon,
      “Why they (Zaharan & clique) didn’t decide on “Buddhists” and their “Religious” places such as “Temples” – “Atamasthana”; “Dalada Maligawa”?
      Isn’t that pretty obvious? If that had happened, there would have been no Muslims left in the country. As it happened, the post-bombing riots against Muslims in places like Divulapitiya(?) were led by Buddhists, not Catholics.

      • 1
        0

        OC,
        “Isn’t that pretty obvious? If that had happened, there would have been no Muslims left in the country!!?
        Gosh, resulting in – Catastrophe of Apocalyptic and Armageddon Enormity with Uncontrollable, Convulsive Community Reaction directed towards Extinction of all communities!!!???
        Best attempt to sound like SP!!!

      • 2
        2

        My response to this comment of yours was inadvertently posted under your other comment, which please see.

    • 1
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      Simon,
      “In that ———- my question is WHY did the Muslims (already subjected to much harassment) organize and plotted to attack “Christians and their Religious Institutions” who had NOTHING to do with that “Creation” of that “Environment”?”
      The answer to that question, if attempted, would definitely BUTTRESS the reasonable clue, that the operation was planned to ensure a CONFLAGARATION, between MINOR COMMUNITIES and limited as such within Island, to the exclusion of involvement of the MAJORITYCOMMUNITY, thus conveniently excluding external intervention post conflagration, if any!!! Not by accident but pre-planned!!!???
      Such a modus operandi, would enable:
      A. Majority community cleared of culpability in disharmony, which has been the case since 1948!?
      B. Foreign Intervention negated to great extent as it would be Tamil/Tamil – worst case, Sinhalese Christian/catholic denomination!!!
      C. Targets – Tamil CHRISTIANS (major component of victims) by Tamil MUSLIMS!? Ethnicity same!!?
      D. Purpose of Exercise LIMITED – expose to voter, Yahapalanaya INEFFECTIVE in National Security!!?
      E. Uninitiated and uneducated rural masses to be riled and scare mongered into GR’s fold – Messiah!
      F. Germinate thought foreign hand – ME Arabic – FUTURE USE AGAINST MUSLIMS, IF NECESSARY!?
      Plot hatched with long-term aims!!!
      Planned, Promised Gratification fully Settled/Paid – Signed/Sealed Contract!!!??? WELL-WORTH COMPENSATION!!?? NO AVOIDANCE!!!

    • 5
      0

      Logical thinkers,
      It seems regardless of the current female author being the beloved wife of Rajapaksa’s number one lap dog (self proclaimed clown Dayan Jayathilaka), she is obviously confused to the same degree we are fallen in.
      .
      If my memory is right that Cardinal Malcom Ranjith was close and be sitting with Rajapakshes also in the aftermath of EASTER sunday bombings. Might well be, that myths about christianity helped him much in that regard, that it was god killed the innocient worshippers not anyone else. I thank him for not letting it to grow up to an other blood bath, but from the begining on Cardinal’s unblievable link with Medamulana Dogs were so skeptical to me.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0kUilDj7yM

      There is a thicker grey area where ISIS and some political crook could work together. SRILANKA was then proved to be the number one politically instable country going by that oct-2018 political coup by which legitiamte PM of that govt was replaced with power greedy Mahinda Rajapakshe as the PM: And how the vandalists then misdemeaned in the parliment,

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dbg7Qi2Dneo

  • 2
    7

    Sanja de Silva Jayatilleka:

    “To be fair, it’s not conclusive therefore, that those who succeeded as a result of an event, had anything to do with the event itself.”

    It behooves the conspiracy theory nuts among the CT commenters to carefully consider the example the author cites in support of the above statement of hers, that is, Mr. Netanyahu of Israel benefiting from a bomb attack by an extremist Palestinian group just prior to an election which he was set to lose to a rival candidate.

    From the beginning until now the real reason for alleging that the Rajapakses (Pohottuwa) were behind the Easter Sunday attacks has been that they benefited from it politically and all those hold this view are to a man Rajapakse-haters. All the arguments and “evidence” adduced in support of this preposterous theory are simply attributable to what is called confirmation bias.

    Conversely, the same nuts would not subscribe to this nutty theory if the alleged
    mastermind belonged to a political party they supported and then they would go to great lengths to try and explain away even stronger evidence in favour of the theory. Sadly, that is human nature.

  • 8
    1

    “Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith made a strident speech at the Mass commemorating the victims, stating that the Church had no trust in the present leadership to do what they promised.”
    Did this Cardinal say anything when innocents like Hejaaz Hisbullah and Ahnaf Jazim were arrested? Correct me if I am wrong, but did he say anything when Dr. Shafie was arrested? Also, this Cardinal took an ungodly amount of time to visit the bombed Evangelical Church in Batticaloa. Was he equally concerned when churches were bombed in the North?
    This Cardinal is no follower of Jesus Christ. The Mahanayakas could borrow a few pages from his book on partisan religion.

    • 1
      4

      OC:

      A BBC report at the time of the bombings had this:

      “Amid the wreckage [caused by Zahran’s family members setting off explosives in Sainthamaruthu], police found white dresses usually worn by Buddhist women during prayers at temples. They suspect that the militants had planned to enter temples in disguise during the Buddhist festival of Vesak in mid-May to carry out further attacks.”

      • 4
        0

        Leonard,
        It may be true that the police found such white dresses. But we shouldn’t take their assumptions for granted, for they are past masters at releasing half-truths. There is a more plausible explanation for the dresses. The fact is that Muslims are traders, and the dresses might have been meant for shops. We will never be told how many coloured dresses were found. The other point is that these extremist Muslim women are ALWAYS dressed in burgas. They wouldn’t don ankle length skirts and uncover their faces even to commit suicide! Correct me if I’m wrong, but AFAIK the male bombers had beards. The police statement in any led to paranoid seizures of Muslim vans carrying textiles. Perhaps that was the real purpose of the statement.

        • 0
          0

          OC:

          Please read this article. The clothes were clearly not bought for resale.

          https://www.news.lk/news/political-current-affairs/item/25323-zahran-s-wife-bought-clothing-sets-from-giriulla

          • 3
            0

            LJ,
            That is “The government’s official news portal”.
            Still, the alleged plan to send suicide women in white dresses seems very unlikely to me. To an extremist Muslim woman, exposing her limbs and face in public would be a greater sin than committing suicide. I have seen some even wearing black gloves and socks! That’s why they’re called fundamentalists.

            • 1
              2

              OC:

              In Islam there can be exceptions to virtually any thing. Necessity can make permissible what is otherwise haraam (forbidden). Suicide is a major sin that attracts eternal punishment in hell in Islam, yet Muslim suicide bombers (fundamentalists, as you would readily concede), who are far more serious about their religion than your average Muslim, do it because they think they are acting in the cause of Allah. Lying, eating pork, drinking alcohol, etc. are all forbidden but necessity can make these things permissible to the believer (for example, eating pork when one is dying of starvation and there is nothing else to eat). Unlike suicide, no eternal punishment is threatened for not following the prescribed dress code in Islam and I don’t see why the women in Zahran’s circle of fanatical followers would not be willing to make this one (and only) exception in the matter of dress if they thought they were doing it in the higher cause of Allah.

              • 2
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                LJ
                Have you not heard of the Christian cult in Kenya which recently got its followers to starve to death to meet Jesus? That was not the only piece of lunacy in the name of Jesus.
                Any religion has the potential to go beyond the lunatic fringe, when faith gets the better of reason.

                • 0
                  0

                  Yes, I have. Compared with that what Zahran and company did seems almost sane!

              • 0
                0

                Leonard,
                “I don’t see why the women in Zahran’s circle of fanatical followers would not be willing to make this one (and only) exception in the matter of dress”
                Extremist Muslims are a bit different from you and me. No idols. No shrines. No revealing clothing. Men must have beards. No exceptions. The Pope might be willing to accept gays, but no religious Muslim will do so, even though there are gay Muslims. That’s why they’re called fanatics, and that’s why they can’t disguise themselves.
                This in fact is the reason the burqa was banned for a while not only here but in other places.

                https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-33553041

          • 2
            0

            OC,
            .
            I heard that Zaharan’s wife has now been killed in India.
            -a) Is it true or a rumour ?
            -b) Most of the information currently broadcast in Sri Lanka is satirical. There seems to be little difference between mainstream media and social media. What is the truth?

            I request any one of you to clear this doubt.
            .
            Remembering how the serial killer/drug dealer “Makandure Madush” was killed in his custody, the Rajapaksa government may have treated her the same way. Rajapakshes are their men are unpredictable. It should not be forgotten that Makandure madhush was not the only person caught in such arbitrary state killings

            • 3
              0

              LM,
              For a long time, it was alleged that she escaped to India. But now, it is claimed through DNA evidence that she died in a bomb blast in Sainthamuruthu, as the article says. Resurrection is possible too.

      • 2
        0

        LJ
        BBC stories, especially Overseas Services!
        It is long since people took them at face value.

  • 0
    0

    OC,
    “Isn’t that pretty obvious? If that had happened, there would have been no Muslims left in the country!!?
    Gosh, resulting in – Catastrophe of Apocalyptic and Armageddon Enormity with Uncontrollable, Convulsive Community Reaction directed towards Extinction of all communities!!!???
    Best attempt to sound like SP!!!

  • 0
    0

    Sanja De S J,
    Well-articulated proposition!!
    “If as is alleged, this Mastermind (MM) was also RESPONSIBLE FOR THE “POLITICAL LINKS” THAT TOO DIDN’T WORK out as a prizewinning strategy since all the GAINS TURNED OUT TO BE SHORT-LIVED.
    My take is, the MM achieved his desired gain!!! Benefitted due to THAT DASTARDLY ACT!!!
    First and foremost, dilly dallying for Months/Year, he declared his Candidacy on that EASTER DAY
    The relevant matter MM GAINED AND benefitted – ample proof and identity of Co-Project Designer and Architect!?
    Such Gain being short-lived – no bearing on CULPABILITY OF THE CRIME!!! GAIN was short lived due entirely to INCOMPETANCE, INNEPTITUDE, TEMPERAMENT, TACTLESSNESS of ILL-FIT incumbent and not attributable in any manner, to whether that political link was the MM,ACCOPLICE or not!!!
    That individual did not know how to retain, Gain achieved own/accomplice’s MP!? AIDING & ABETTING!?
    I MAY AGREE WITH YOU THAT HE WAS EVEN INCAPABLE OF BEING THE MM AS THE MP WOULD BE THE HANDY WORK OF ANOTHER ASSOCIATE OR KINSMAN AS MY THINKING IS THAT HE IS INCAPABLE OF DEVISING SUCH ‘MASTER PLAN’!!??
    Field Marshall, is now believable!! Planning & Startegising, 05/2009 Nandikadal Victory?? Apologies KG!?
    MM/Accomplice, culpable of Dastardly Act!!!

  • 1
    0

    Ok ok you guys got me. Let me tell you who this hidden master mind is. It is Dayan Jayathilake. . The evil man with the face of a cat. Who jumps from one political party to another when it rains.

    Why is he sending his wife to post here instead of those long harangues that he used to post. Is it because he has realized Sajith has no substance. But that didnt stop him before.. Now that the cat is out of his wifes handbag lets see how the country reacts.

    • 4
      0

      “Why is he sending his wife to post here instead of those long harangues that he used to post..”

      It’s his business as usual. A dog that eats poop without a regular habit has no life.
      .
      He is the main lap dog of the middle ground – none other than the man who destroyed this nation.

      Name us any serious crime that MaRa is not directly or indirectly involved in….please do

      • 3
        0

        correction,
        It’s his business as usual. A dog that habitually eats poop will never be able to get rid of it.

  • 3
    1

    “4 years on, the authorities seem to be still staring at a blank wall, unable to connect the dots and follow the trail of evidence in the public domain and those collected at various commissions and by official investigations.”
    Who are these investigators and Commssions? What was their aim? So far, in this country not a Sinhalese leaders whether it is from UNP or SLFP (SLPP) or Buddhist Leaders found guilty of any crime whether it is abduction, murder or bribe or robbery etc.etc. Even not a single criminal who attacked “Aragalaya” not investigated. We had number of commissions since 1958, but not a single brought to justice.
    The fact is the Easter Bomb was not targetted Buddhists or Muslims but only Christians and few Foreginers. In order to call this as Terrorism, Zaharan and few others may have been hired.

    • 3
      1

      Ajith,
      The main question hovering on the lips of many Sri Lankan’s is not whether, but WHO??? The MASTER MIND (MM)!!!
      UNWORTHY Sri Lankan, if he is one!!! Or is he???
      Lemon Puff Weeraya may well be RIGHT for once!!????
      POWERFUL HAND!!!???

      • 2
        0

        Mahila,
        .
        They struggle every year to prove to the UN Human Rights Council that our independent judiciary is more powerful than justice, however, even investigations on simple crimes in this country are not investigated properly and impartially.

        Very innocent people (who are the innocient worshippers) were bombed on April 21, 2019, yet today they are treated like nothing?

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMWjA8tQx9M
        ************************************************************************************
        May the suffering of the victims be heard from every corner of the earth.May the suffering of the victims be heard from every corner of the earth.May the suffering of the victims be heard from every corner of the earth.May the suffering of the victims be heard from every corner of the earth.
        -**************************************************************************************
        A real curse. In Kiwi Land aka NZLand, justice was served to their victims within 3 months of their bombings. That is the biggest difference between a country with real law and order and a country that is all but destroyed today.

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