Lanka concerned over some groups

buddhist-monks-protest-in-colombo 3The Ministry of Defence says since the LTTE’s defeat, some groups have begun to engage in activities that stem far beyond self-protection and there is information that some of these groups have even tried to link up with global Islamic terrorist organizations and so the situation requires careful monitoring.

Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, writing for the Center for Complex Operations in the US, said that one of the concerns in the post-war environment is the increasing communalism amongst ethnic groups, which, if left unaddressed, could result in the rise of ethnic tensions in the future.

He notes that during the period of the war, it was not only the Sinhalese and Tamil communities that were affected by the terrorist separatism of the LTTE, but also the Muslims. After the LTTE started engaging in ethnic cleansing in the North in the early 1980s, it expelled the Sinhalese community from Jaffna and soon after turned its attention to the Muslims. Several massacres were carried out at Mosques in the East, and in October 1990, the LTTE expelled more than 75,000 Muslim residents from the North. This was followed by further brutal attacks on Muslims in vulnerable villages near LTTE dominated territory.

The Defence Secretary said that in this environment, the Muslims also started to organize for their own protection against the LTTE. Since the LTTE’s defeat, he says, some of these groups have begun to engage in activities that stem far beyond self-protection. There is information that some of these groups have even tried to link up with global Islamic terrorist organizations. This is a situation that requires careful monitoring.

He also notes that in addition to the threat of terrorism, Sri Lanka also faces a potential threat from remnants of radical groups that were involved in previous insurgencies. Some of these groups are trying to reorganize within Sri Lanka and mobilize people to once again take up their extreme left wing causes. There is information that some of these groups have started to establish ties to LTTE-linked agents to create further problems in Sri Lanka. Some of their activities include radicalizing students and encouraging them to take to the streets in various protests. Though such activities are still in their early stages, they pose another serious national security concern that must remain a consideration.

Regarding internal security, he says, the national identity system has been significantly improved. Because it was previously a manual, paper-based system, criminal and terrorist elements could very easily obtain forged identity cards. This enabled terrorists to operate throughout Sri Lanka under various names and aliases; this is why the threat of suicide bombings and other attacks in the rest of Sri Lanka was such a pressing problem during the war period. To address this critical weakness, the Registrar of Persons Department was brought under the Ministry of Defense and Urban Development, and a new identity card system that uses biometric information will soon be introduced. Similarly, the problem of people coming into Sri Lanka and staying illegally under false pretenses will be addressed through the introduction of a proper border control system in which biometric information will be incorporated into the passport and international standards used for identity verification. (Colombo Gazette)