Sri Lanka attacks – who are terror group National Thowheed Jamath?

THE Sri Lankan government has named National Thowheed Jamath as being behind bomb attacks which killed 290 people.

Seven suicide bombers destroyed churches and luxury hotels across the island during the Easter Sunday atrocities with at least eight Brits among the dead.

Who are National Thowheed Jamath

Sri Lanka was ravaged by a decades long civil war between the government and the Tamil Tigers which ended with defeat for separatists in 2009.

But up until now there has been little in the way of Islamist activity.

National Thowheed Jamath was known mainly in Sri Lanka for vandalising Buddhist statues in 2016 and secretary, Abdul Razik, was arrested on charges of inciting racism.

Anne Speckhard, the director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism, told the New York Times the group wants to bring extend the global jihadist movement to Sri Lanka.

Their aim is to create hatred, fear and division in society by attacking multiple churches on a religious holiday.

The attacks are similar to those carried out on foreign tourists and Christians elsewhere.

“These attacks appear to be quite different and look as if they came right out of the ISIS, Al Qaeda, global militant jihadist playbook,” she said.

Are ISIS behind the attacks?

Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said today an "international network" helped to carry out the deadly attack.

Sri Lanka's police chief reportedly warned of suicide bombers planning to hit "prominent churches" 10 days before the large-scale attack.

He later confirmed 13 people have been arrested over the string of deadly blasts.

Alto Labetubun, an anti-terrorism expert, added: “These synchronised attacks are out of the ordinary for Sri Lanka.

"Compared with similar attacks in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, it has the DNA of attacks carried out by Islamic State and al-Qaeda.

“With this scale of attacks, I don’t think this was only carried out by locals. There is most likely involvement of foreign groups or people, including people moving in and out of India or Pakistan."

Documents show cops were told of possible plans to hit religious hubs, before worshippers were killed during Easter mass yesterday.

The government has admitted failures in an apology to the 290 dead, and near 500 injured, after being alerted to threats on April 4.

It is not clear if ISIS is suspected of being involved, but last night supporters of the jihadist organisation rejoiced in the massacre.

ISIS supporters have boasted that the series of terror attacks were revenge for the New Zealand mosque massacre and the US-backed military campaign in Syria.

Terror expert Rita Katz said ISIS media channels are “posting rampantly” about the explosions and praying “may Allah accept” the attackers.

Fighters from Sri Lanka have been mentioned in ISIS ranks and the country would be “easily accessible” for its supporters in the region, Ms Katz said.

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