| by Upul Joseph Fernando

( July 2, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Minister Champika Ranawaka brought a very serious allegation recently. He pointed out that Sri Lanka had become a safe haven for the Islamic terrorists. Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) General Secretary, Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thera, also raised this charge repeatedly. Forget Gnanasara Thera, the silence of the government on the allegation of a government minister is curious.

The Indian defence establishment first exposed the existence of the Muslim extremists in Sri Lanka. The chief suspect of the German bakery bomb blast in Pune confessed the attack was masterminded in Colombo. His statement is as follows:

"The ATS charge sheet in the bakery blast case states that Baig had visited Colombo in March 2008 to meet Kagzi and Zabiuddin. The three were old friends in Beed. The Colombo visit was intended to finalize their plans for further terrorist activities.

"According to the charge sheet, Zabiuddin and Kagzi trained Baig to assemble and set off the explosive devices, and also gave him money for funding the travel of Muslim youths wanting to go for terrorist training in Pakistan.

"The charge sheet state that, after returning from Colombo, Baig settled down in Udgir, in the Latur District and went by the aliases, Yusuf and Hasan. He started a cyber cafe and used around 25 email Ids to keep in touch with the absconding suspects in the bakery blast, Ahmed Siddibappa alias Yasin Bhatkal and Mohsin Chowdhary. Bhatkal and Chowdhary met Baig at Udgir in January 2010 and finalized their plan to trigger the blast at the bakery," the charge sheet stated.

Informed

After the exposure by India, Head of US Pacific Command Admiral Robert Willard testified before the Senate Armed Service Committee and stated that Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) operated in South Asian countries including Sri Lanka.

Indian Express newspaper reported that US intelligence services had informed India that there were about 200 cadres of Lashakar-e-Toiba in Sri Lanka. This is the relevant part of Indian Express report:

According to US inputs, Lakshkar's 200 cadres in Sri Lanka were possibly "planners facilitators currently engaged in laying a network before more operatives can be send for specific attacks in India. In fact, these inputs suggest that Lakshkar operatives were being specifically trained to be sent to Sri Lanka," the report said. The US assessment fact, suggests that Lakshkar is looking to strengthen its presence in Nepal and Maldives too. While Nepal has been used to carry out attacks in India, Maldives provides new options if operatives have to reach Indian Peninsular, where many 'High value targets' are situated.

However, Defence Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, denied these charges in a statement to the Sunday Observer on 19 September.

Defence Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, denies US Terror Alert claims on Lakshkar-e-Tobia terrorists

From the Sunday Observer, Sri Lanka:

Defence Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, today denied claims by the US Terror Alert that terrorist outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba is using Sri Lanka as a base to attack India. "There is no truth whatsoever. The allegations are totally misleading and incorrect," he told the Observer Online.

Defence Secretary Rajapaksa, said Sri Lanka will never leave room for terrorism and would not allow any foreign militant group to operate on local soil. "We will never let that happen and would always support the battle against global terrorism," he said.

However, the Indian intelligence chiefs pointed out to Defence Secretary Rajapaksa that the existence of Islamic terrorists was a threat to the security of India. New Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also reiterated the issue of existence of Islamic terrorists in Sri Lanka when he met Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa at his swearing-in ceremony. Media reported that the President had got excited over it. Indian media recently reported that an official of the Pakistan High Commission had planned to attack two places in South India using a Sri Lankan.

Terrorists backed by the Pak ISI were planning to target Chennai Port and central railway station as well as airports in Chennai and Bangalore, in what now appears to be deliberate and well coordinated strategy by Pakistan to encircle India through its terror consulate in Colombo, as per sensational revelations by Mohammed Zakir Husain arrested at Chennai in the last week of April 2014. Rattling details contained in the interrogation report (IR) of Husain, kept under wraps so far, but to which ET has managed exclusives access, confirm that the electronic city in Bangalore and atomic power plant in Tamil Nadu were also part of the terror strike plan.

Husain (36), is a Sri Lankan national engaged as an agent by the Pak ISI. Hussain has revealed this and much more, including the identities, names and modus operandi of the Pakistani diplomats who guided, financed and 'handled' him in SL for such dangerous missions.

Hussain divulged that all planning, tasking and financing was being done personally by Pakistani High Commission (in Colombo) officials.

The Colombo Pak Consulate officials used over a dozen different (Sri Lankan, Malaysian, Maldivian) telephone numbers to keep in touch with Hussain. Details are available with ET.

Reliable contacts

Hussain was tasked to 'develop reliable contacts working in Vishakhapatnam and Cochin Naval Bases, Chennai Port, Atomic Power Plant in Tamil Nadu' as per the IR. He was further tasked in June 2013 to clandestinely obtain photographs of US Consulate in Chennai, shipping yard of Chennai Port, Chennai Airport, Chennai Railway Station, Israel Consulate in Bangalore, Electronic City in Bangalore, the Bangalore Airport.

Security Agency sources have told ET that Husain's mission was reminiscent of David Headley recess in India before the devastating 2008 Mumbai attacks.

These developments were followed by communal violence in Aluthgama. Now Cabinet Minister Champika Ranawaka, also reiterates the same allegation that Sri Lanka is a safe haven for Islamic terrorists. Participating in a television discussion on Sirasa TV last week, Minister Ranawaka questioned what might happen if the Islamic terrorists act to assassinate Indian Premier Narendra Modi using Sri Lanka as their base.

This is a very highly serious allegation. India cannot ignore the matter of Islamic terrorists operating from Sri Lanka to assassinate Modi. The allegation has been made by a senior Cabinet Minister. BBS Secretary, Gnanasara Thera, said the worst kind of Islamic terrorists were hiding in Sri Lanka.

India or the US can launch an operation in Sri Lanka to seize these terrorists based on the statement of the minister. A report of the New York-based think tank Open Society Foundation said, "Sri Lanka permitted use of its air space and airports for flights associated with the UN Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) extraordinary rendition operations in 2003."

That proves the Sri Lanka Government has already opened its air space for the rendition operations of the US to apprehend the terrorists who are threatening to that State.

"What will happen to Mahinda's patriotic appearance if the US or India launched a rendition operation in Sri Lanka near a Presidential Election, as a result of extension of this story of existence of Islamic terrorists in Sri Lanka?" A journalist raised the above question. We are not sure if the path is paved for this.

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