The army chief of Sri Lanka said that India would be providing Sri Lanka with counter-terrorism technology and capability to fight the growing menace of Islamic terrorism in the country.
Speaking to India Today TV on Saturday, army chief of Sri Lanka Lt Gen Mahesh Senanayake said, “We have requested India for intelligence cooperation, bomb disposal assistance, cyber warfare assistance and assistance of training and equipment.”
To a question on if India has agreed to Colombo’s demands, the chief said that they have been assured help and assistance since “this is not only good for Sri Lanka but the entire region. We have suffered a lot and we do not want others to suffer”.
He rejected any idea of on-ground military help from any country.
Sri Lanka fought the toughest battle during the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and after the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF), they never sought any external military assistance.
“We do not encourage troop requirement here [Sri Lanka]. There is no reason for other countries to send their armed forces but, we need assistance for our interrogation and technical assistance to enhance our capabilities on conducting future operations. We really welcome friends who are actual friends in need. Our relationship with the Indian Army and military diplomacy with our neighbors, especially India, stand tall,” he said.
BLASTS IN SRI LANKA
Nine suicide bombers, including a woman, carried out a series of blasts that tore through three churches and three luxury hotels on April 21, killing over 250 people and injuring more than 500.
“The Sri Lankan Army was not informed of the critical intelligence that was shared by ‘friendly’ countries with Colombo,” said General Senanayake.
When asked on the massive intelligence failure, he said, “More than the failure, there was a gap between the agencies in terms of cooperation. Even after being informed by our friendly countries of this particular incident, it was not shared with other agencies on time. That created this situation.”
He added that the country is working towards an “integrated intelligence system” to ensure such attacks do not succeed in the future.
The Easter Sunday attackers, according to intelligence gathered by the forces, had travelled to many important cities of India, including Kashmir, to connect with Islamic terrorist groups.
Sri Lanka is looking into all the connections in the sub-continent, including links with groups in Pakistan.
“During the investigation very few cadres had travelled to India. Indian government did not help them. They had gone to make connections. They had outside links and visited abroad which their passports have revealed… they travelled to Bengaluru, Kochi, and parts of Kashmir. We can tell their exact locations and people they met, after the investigations,” he said.
Business tycoon Yusuf Ibrahim’s sons travelled under the garb of business to India.
Senanayake said that investigations had established that the plotters had links to Islamic State (IS), but currently they are trying to establish their location and the depth of contact.
“We had five Sri Lankan fighters in Syria, one died in 2017. They have connections with IS in Syria. Currently, we are not in a position to tell the exact location but investigations are going on,” Lt Gen Mahesh Senanayake said.
While they are investigation outside links, Sri Lanka is not ruling out help from former LTTE cadre who fled the country after they lost the war.
General Senanayake said, “Although 13,169 people surrendered, definitely some escaped to India and other countries, Germany, France, West Canada, the UK. We are seriously monitoring activities of ex-LTTE cadres within the country and other countries also. Revamping of LTTE is not an immediate concern but our current attention is to the particular incident of April 21.”
For now, investigators from eight countries, including the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Interpol, are helping Sri Lanka with the investigation.
Senanayake said that India, China, United States, Israel, Australia and the United Arab Emirates were looking to provide high-grade military technology, including communication and surveillance equipment, to deal with future threats.
He assured that the situation will return to normal and that the country is safe for tourists to return.
“We don’t have to worry about the situation; it is contained. I assure security to tourists who wish to travel. In fact, rainy season will start in July. After that and till Christmas, it will be the best time to travel to Sri Lanka. Normalcy will prevail,” he said.