Sri Lanka Update: Attack on Christianity? Maybe Not

Sri Lanka Update: Attack on Christianity? Maybe Not

Sri Lanka Update: Attack on Christianity? Maybe Not

After nearly a week of reporting trickling in via the media, I am beginning to suspect that the terrorist scum that murdered more than 300 people on Easter Sunday last week in Sri Lanka weren’t targeting Christians. I know it may be an unpopular opinion, given the liberals’ aversion to mentioning the word “Christians” when they send out condolences after the attack, but we need to examine all angles and determine motive if we are to effectively counter these bastards.

Since the attacks last Sunday, we have learned several things.

The ringleader of the attacks died in one of the explosions at the Shangri-La hotel in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo.

Radical preacher Zahran Hashim was no ordinary asshole. This guy was an extra special nutjob. He wasn’t just an extremist jihadi who released online videos calling for jihad and threatening bloodshed. The mosque he joined in 2006 banned him from preaching for several months in 2009 and the jihadi nutjob stormed off in a huff. At that time – at the age of 23, he married a 14-year-old girl. Yeah, he was one of those. And then, he got real crazy. He didn’t target Christians, but he had an unhealthy obsession with Sri Lanka’s Sufi population, who practice a form of Islam described as “mystical.”

Tensions in the area went back some years. In 2004, there was a grenade attack on a Sufi mosque and in 2006 several homes of Sufis were set afire. Announcements boomed from surrounding mosques at the time calling for a Sufi spiritual leader to be killed, said Sahlan Khalil Rahman, secretary of a trust that oversees a group of Sufi mosques.

It was apparently an effort to convert the Sufis to Wahhabism, and from there, Zahran got even more crazy. In 2012, he started his own mosque in the town of Kattankudy.

In 2017, Zahran’s confrontations boiled over. At a rally near a Sufi community, his followers came wielding swords. At least one man was hacked and hospitalized. The police arrested several people connected to Zahran, including his father and one of his brothers. Zahran slipped away from public view.

Zahran pledged allegiance to ISIS. During a raid, police found ISIS flags, 150 sticks of dynamite, thousands of steel pellets and a drone camera, as well as uniforms similar to those worn by the eight fighters before they launched Sunday’s attacks and a backdrop they used to make their suicide video.

During another raid, security forces got into a firefight in the town of Ampara Sainthamaruthu near Batticaloa. There was an explosion in the area and when security forces went to investigate they came under fire.

We have also learned that ISIS on Tuesday claimed responsibility for the attacks. Interestingly, they produced no evidence that they were responsible beyond the video in which Zahran supposedly appears, pledging allegiance to ISIS amir Abu Du’a, and Islamic extremist groups have traditionally had trouble getting a foothold in South Asia, except for Afghanistan, although the Taliban is trying like hell to get rid of ISIS-Khorasan and drive them from the country.

The country has little history of Islamic militancy, save for Zahran’s nuttery, and traditionally, Muslim and Christian minorities have lived peacefully together in Sri Lanka, where the majority of the population identifies as Buddhist.

But what really has me doubting that Christians were the specific target behind the attack is the target selection.

Six of the eight bombings took place in Sri Lanka’s capital. At 8.45am the city was rocked by simultaneous explosions at a large Catholic church, St Anthony’s Shrine, and the Shangri-La and Kingsbury hotels. Five minutes later another hotel, the Cinnamon Grand, was also hit.

…it is thought that at least 160 people were injured in the congregation of St Anthony’s Shrine. The Shangri-La hotel has 541 rooms and suites, as well as six restaurants and bars. The Kingsbury has 229 rooms and suites, and the Cinnamon Grand has 501 rooms.

Officers began to carry out raids across the city. At 1.45pm there was another explosion in the suburb of Dehiwala, at a guesthouse close to the national zoo. At 2.15pm a further blast occurred in a housing scheme in Dematagoda. These last two bombs appear to have been carried out by the attackers as they fled from police.

Three churches, three hotels, a housing complex in Dematagoda, and an explosion at a guesthouse close to the national zoo. The terrorists were targeting crowds. The fact that it was Easter meant that several of the nation’s churches would be packed with worshipers. Had they wanted to specifically target Christians or Catholics, ISIS wouldn’t be plotting a major attack in Sri Lanka, where only 7.4 percent of the population is Christian.

The Shangri-La Hotel – one of the sites of the bombings is a five-star hotel that boasts 500 rooms and can accommodate 2000 conference guests, and the explosions took place at the height of the tourist season in Sri Lanka.

The Cinnamon Grand is another luxury hotel – one of three hotels in Colombo popular with tourists, along with Kingsbury Hotel and Shangri-La Hotel.

Guess which hotels the terrorists targeted along with another hotel near the national zoo.

If Zahran and his merry band of extremist assholes really pledged allegiance to ISIS, it is doubtful they would specifically target Christians. Over the past several years, ISIS has been launching attacks – both inspired and directed – in crowded venues not only to maximize the carnage, but also to gain attention.

November 2015, Paris Attacks: In a series of attacks, bombers and shooters terrorized the streets of Paris, killing 130 people.

December 2015, San Bernardino Attack: A married couple opened fire at the Inland Regional Center in California and killed 14 people.

March 2016, Brussels Bombings: Bombings at Brussels Airport in Belgium and a nearby Metro station killed 32 people.

June 2016, Pulse Nightclub Shooting: A gunman opened fire inside a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., and killed 49 people.

July 2016, Nice Attack: A terrorist driving a truck mowed down a crowd of people in the French Riviera town, killing 86.

December 2016, Berlin Attack: A man hijacked and drove a truck into a Christmas market in Berlin, killing himself and 11 others.

May 2017, Manchester Attack: A single suicide bomber killed 22 people during an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena in England.

Since its rise, ISIS followers and associates have focused on maximum damage, not on any specific religion. The fact that it was Easter gave the Sri Lanka terrorists symbolism, media attention, and targets filled with hundreds of victims, and if the targeted churches had historic importance, that’s just the cherry on top of the hell cake for ISIS.

Christians weren’t the targets for these swine. Numbers were.

Written by

Marta Hernandez is an immigrant, writer, editor, science fiction fan (especially military sci-fi), and a lover of freedom, her children, her husband and her pets. She loves to shoot, and range time is sacred, as is her hiking obsession, especially if we’re talking the European Alps. She is an avid caffeine and TWD addict, and wants to own otters, sloths, wallabies, koalas, and wombats when she grows up.

  • Sigh. Okay, perhaps not worshipers of Christ specifically. But Christian churches and tourist spots that were mostly filled with people from Christian countries.

    I know it is a typo, but you wrote that Sri Lanka is majority Muslim. Not so, of course, it is majority Buddhist, along with a very large minority of Hindus. For maximum murder, the Buddhist New Year or Vesak would have been their targets – or even April 14th (the Hindu New Year this year).

    • Scott says:

      I’ve read something recently, and my apologies for not remembering where / having a link, but the article suggested that when a country reaches a population of 10% or so muslim, attacks such as these increase exponentially..

      • Marta Hernandez says:

        I haven’t read that. Actually Islamist attacks there are pretty rare, from what I gather. The Tamil Tigers were the biggest assholes on the block in their day, and the deadliest.

        • GWB says:

          Yes, Sri Lanka’s troubles have not arisen primarily from muslim a**holery, but from tribalism. India has some pretty deep divisions based on ethnicity, and religion flowing from that. There are legitimate grievances, and illegitimate ones, strewn about the massive nation.

    • Marta Hernandez says:

      Yep. Typo. Thanks for catching. Ugh. Wrote that pretty late in the night. Fixing.

  • GWB says:

    While I think you are close, here’s my take, Marta.
    As a Christian, I can point to the persecution of Christians specifically. Christians are under attack around the globe, and we need to be aware of that. Enough said.

    However, I point out ISIS attacks on Christians not to say “Woe is us!” but to try and get the message across: They hate you all and will kill you all in order to bring about their vision of heaven on earth. THEY HATE YOU ALL. Anyone who only focuses on their attacks on Christians (and there’s loads of them) is missing the point about fundamentalist islam’s actual level of threat. That threat is to everyone who will not bow deeply enough to their god. (This includes those who bow to the same god, but are insufficiently … devoted, in their eyes.)

    This is why fundamentalist islam is an existential threat to Western Civilization and to freedom of any sort.

    Had they wanted to specifically target Christians or Catholics, ISIS wouldn’t be plotting a major attack in Sri Lanka, where only 7.4 percent of the population is Christian.
    Oh, I disagree. Because they care about eradicating ALL the opposition to their caliphate. They would attack even if there were only one non-dhimmi Christian left in their midst.
    However, the number of non-Christian targets that meet their criteria (non-dhimmi infidels and apostates) in Sri Lanka is certainly higher, and therefore more attractive in some ways. But, again, you go where the news cycle takes you – and Easter means Christian churches and tourist locations.

    As to attacking Buddhist and Hindu celebrations? Well, they’re not stupid (entirely). If they were to piss off the Hindus they might very well be eradicated from the island. Despite PR to the contrary, Hinduism is not particularly peaceful, and even Buddhists have gang fights. (Seriously, monks from rival temples would have street rumbles with serious injuries. Universal peace, my aunt Sally!)

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