To identify the name of the group, and affiliations, will be solved by police work, not speculation. It is not too early to think about how this relates to global terrorism. The bombings have features that set them apart from others:
- With high confidence, both the perpetrators and victims come from groups that are minorities: Islamic terror against Christian groups.
- The prior ethic conflict, the Sri Lanka Civil War, Tamil versus Sinhalese, has nothing to do with it.
- During the Civil War, the Tamils were internally fractured by multiple political and military groups. As with FARC in Colombia, this assures that there are significant numbers of Tamils who are still aggrieved. Even today, FARC sympathizers can be found just a ten minute drive out of Medellin.
- The majority of Tamils are Hindu, but 10% of the total Sri Lanka population is Muslim; most Muslims are Tamil speakers, though not culturally Tamils.
- 10% Muslim against 7.4% Christian seems thin gruel for an insurrection.
Islamic terrorism has tended to directly target groups they wish to displace. Then why not the majority of Sri Lanka, who are Buddhist?
A recurring idea among terrorists of all kinds, including White Nationalists in the U.S., is to artificially kindle a conflict to weaken existing society, thereby facilitating their goals. But as the Islamic population of Sri Lanka is small, a direct attack on the Sinhalese majority could provoke a backlash, both official and grass-roots, too violent to withstand.
To be considered is the possibility that an intellectual core of “masterminds” have devised a kindling strategy particularized for Sri Lanka, carefully staged to avoid effective counter-terrorism at an early stage. The strategy might have these elements:
- The antagonism of the Christian community results in an enforcement activity directed at Muslim elements within the Tamils, enough to antagonize the Tamils, but not resulting in effective action against the terrorists.
- Antagonism of the Tamils creates sanctuary space for the terrorists within the Tamil community.
- Relying on the Tamil tendency towards political fracture, demonstrated during the Civil War, the terrorists hijack part of the community.
- With enlarged resources, the terrorists increase the tempo of attacks, as Tamils flock to them in the face of Sinhalese repressive measures.
- The immediate goal: a chunk of Tamil territory. The Mystical goal: the whole island is repopulated.
This sounds crazy to us. (Particularly, since the majority of Tamil-speaking Muslims are not culturally Tamils.)
But it cannot be judged by the yardstick of rationality. Mystical thinking bridges all gaps of logic. It implies one prediction to be tested by police work: The design of attacks, focusing on Christians, is a foreign import. Since Indonesia and Malaysia are loci of church bombings, some suicidal, little ideological packaging is required.
This theory conveniently explains why responsibility has not yet been claimed. It involves reasoning of such complex fiction, the perpetrators may not understand it themselves.