Osama Brigade: Pakistan a mischievous player in Sri Lanka’s radicalisation since 1990
New Delhi, Apr 29: As the agencies continue to probe the ghastly terror attacks in Sri Lanka, the names of the National Towheed Jamath (NTJ) and the Islamic State have cropped up.
This is a new wave of terror in Sri Lanka, which had fought a long and bloody civil war with the LTTE. The seeds of Islamic terror in Sri Lanka were originally sowed by Pakistan's ISI.
Pakistan's tryst with Islamic jihad in Sri Lanka began in the 1990s. It set up a camp known as the Osama Brigade, which mainly targeted the Tamil Muslims in the northern part of Sri Lanka. The development came up a few years after the Indian Peace Keeping Force had left Sri Lanka.
The intention was to nurture this brigade and set up as many modules as possible so that the ISI could target South India. The Southern sojourn for the ISI has always been top on its priority list. While it has failed on several occasions, the fact of the matter is that it never stopped trying. The Osama Brigade was in fact set up in Sri Lanka by an officer in the rank of a Colonel.
While the seeds were sown, the radicalisation did not see much effect for several years as the problem in the island nation were focused more around the LTTE. It was only once the LTTE fell that the ISI realised that it was in with a real chance.
This time the ISI sent an officer by the name Amir Zubair Siddiqui and posted him in the high commission in Colombo.
He decided to fan the sentiments of the Muslims, who have been facing a major threat from the Buddhists. The ISI was helped indirectly by the rise of the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), a group that has been fighting for Buddhist dominance and also the eradication of both Muslims and Christians in Sri Lanka.
It was found that the BBS was funded heavily by the ISI. The BBS was asked to target Muslims, which in turn made them insecure. The ISI under Siddiqui was able to capitalise on this sentiment and began roping the Muslims into their fold.
While Pakistan vehemently denies any link with the radicalisation in Sri Lanka, it however mysteriously moved Siddiqui out of Colombo. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) which was probing this case sought to question Siddiqui and have even approached their counterparts in Sri Lanka. Siddiqui was immediately removed from the high commission and flown into Pakistan.