Colombo: Sri Lanka on Saturday banned local Islamist extremist outfit National Thowheeth Jamaath (NTJ) and a splinter group linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that has claimed the responsibility for the Easter bombings that killed 253 people and injured several hundred.
The mastermind behind the attacks, Thowheeth Jamaath leader Zahran Hashim, was killed inside the Shangri La hotel where he had blown himself up by detonating the bomb he had come strapped around his waist.
President Maithripala Sirisena invoked his emergency powers to proscribe the Thowheeth Jamaath and a splinter group identified as Jamathei Millathu Ibraheem (JMI), a statement said.
“All movable and immovable property of these two organisations will be confiscated,” the statement said.
The move to ban the outfits follows the adoption of a newly-enforced emergency regulation in Parliament of Sri Lanka on Wednesday after a series of eight coordinated bombings that targeted three churches and as many high-end hotels frequented by tourists on 19 April.
This was Sri Lanka’s worst incident of violence since the end of the civil war or the collapse of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2009.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on 27 April said that the country needed new laws to deal with threats posed by local terror outfits linked to the ISIS.
“The definition of aiding terrorism is very narrow. Therefore, the laws are not strong to deal with a situation like this. We have to widen the scope of these laws to counter global terrorism. Not only they (the terrorists) should be arrested, their assets also need to be confiscated,” Wickremesinghe said in a televised address.
While the ISIS claimed responsibility for the Easter terror attacks on three Catholic churches and as many luxury hotels, the Sri Lankan government has cornered the local Islamic extremist group, the National Thowheeth Jamaath, for the bombings because the elaborate plan of the ISIS could not have been executed without this local terror module.