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21 Apr, 2019 18:44

‘Intelligence failure’: Sri Lankan govt too focused on past, not ready for new threats – analysts

‘Intelligence failure’: Sri Lankan govt too focused on past, not ready for new threats – analysts

A series of devastating terrorist attacks that claimed the lives of more than 200 people are partially a result of the Sri Lankan security services’ inability to adapt to new security challenges, analysts told RT.

The island nation that once survived a bloody, decades-long civil war against a secessionist ethnic militant group known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has been apparently caught off guard by coordinated attacks, whose orchestrators are yet to be identified. Even though, following years of conflict, Sri Lanka had strong military and experienced intelligence, it was still apparently unable to adequately assess emerging threats, the analysts believe.

Smruti Pattanaik, a south Asia policy and security analyst told RT that the attacks essentially came as a result of an “intelligence failure.”

“Sri Lankan armed forces has very efficient system of gathering intelligence. Though they focused more on gathering intelligence on Tamil minority based on their anticipation of revival of militancy by Tamil youths, they did not focus on other sources of terrorism,” Pattanaik, who is a research fellow at the Indian Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses, said.

The fact that these attacks successfully targeted five star hotels located in Sri Lanka’s commercial capital, which are expected to be well-guarded, shows that security of “these areas could still be breached,” she noted.

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Even though, the Tamil separatists were defeated almost a decade ago, back in 2009, as a result of a government military campaign, the Sri Lankan security services were apparently still seeing them as a major security threat – partially because little has been done to resolve the political issues that provoked the decades-long conflict in the first place, Pattanaik explained.

Focused on the potential resurgence of the Tamil separatism, the Sri Lankan security services apparently lost sight of another threat pervading the nation, Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, a distinguished fellow and the head of the Nuclear and Space Policy Initiative at the Observer Research Foundation, believes.

“Sri Lanka has been coming under Wahhabi influence for a while now,” she told RT. Although the Muslim population is one of the smallest minorities in the 22-million nation, it might have come under influence of the ultraconservative Islamic ideas that are particularly spread by Saudi Arabia, which has recently increased its presence in Sri Lanka by funding some projects, the analyst explained.

“This could have led to the emergence of Islamic radicalism and terrorism,” she said.

Eight people have been arrested in connection with the attacks so far, the government confirmed without revealing their identities. Meanwhile, three suicide bombers that allegedly set off explosive devices in two hotels and a church were reportedly identified as Mohamed Azzam Mohamed, Zahran Hashim and Abu Mohammed, according to the media.

No group has claimed responsibility for the Sunday attacks so far and the Sri Lankan authorities have made no statements about who might be behind them.

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