The bombers wanted to provoke a clash of civilisations. Don’t fall into their trap
A few months ago National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ), an Islamist group from Sri Lanka, was known for little more than defacing statues of the Buddha. On April 21st nine of its members walked into churches and luxury hotels on the island and blew themselves up, killing more than 350 people. Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the deadliest set of terrorist attacks in Asia in modern times.
幾個月前，斯里蘭卡的伊斯蘭極端組織NTJ以毀壞佛像而聞名。4月21日，9名 NTJ 成員走進島上的教堂和豪華酒店，引爆了自己，造成350多人死亡。伊斯蘭國宣稱現代亞洲最致命的一系列恐怖襲擊事件都與其有關。
How could this happen? Start with Sri Lanka’s bungling. The world has learned a great deal about how to thwart terrorists since September 11th 2001. A crucial lesson is that it is vital to share information quickly and widely, so that fragmentary intelligence can be pieced together and followed up. This is precisely what Sri Lanka’s government failed to do, despite receiving unusually detailed warnings. Part of the reason for that appears to be shameless politicking. The island’s president, Maithripala Sirisena, has been at loggerheads with the prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, since the former tried to sack the latter in October. Mr Wickremesinghe has been excluded from meetings of the national security council since then.
A second explanation is that, although Sri Lanka has no history of jihadist terrorism, nor even of much tension between Muslims and Christians, it sits in an ocean of bubbling extremism. In recent decades in South Asia, intolerant strands of Islam have edged out the broad-minded forms that used to predominate. That has created fertile ground for jihadists. The Maldives, just a short flight from Sri Lanka, sent more recruits to is in Iraq and Syria as a proportion of its population than any other country. Bangladesh, across the Bay of Bengal, has suffered a wave of Islamist attacks on secular activists and minorities in the past six years. Sri Lanka’s suicide-bombers reportedly contacted is veterans from both those countries. International jihadists have also cropped up across the Palk Strait in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, which is bound to northern Sri Lanka by ethnic kinship. It was an is suspect arrested there who is said to have yielded some of the intelligence passed to Sri Lanka’s government (which was then ignored).