Focus on LTTE took away attention from emerging threats

terroristSri Lankan security services’ focus on a possible resurgence of the Liberation Tigers of the Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has affected the government’s attention to emerging threats such as reports of Sri Lankan nationals joining the Islamic State (IS), the U.S. State Department has said in its 2015 report on terrorism.

The U.S. referred to reports of social media announcing the death of a possible citizen of the island nation fighting with the jihadists dying in coalition air strikes in Syria. The deceased’s brother-in-law was also identified as a member of the terrorist group and is believed to be in the war-torn country.

Defence Secretary Karunasena Hettiarachchi, however, said that though there were reports of Sri Lankans joining IS, there was no concrete evidence to suggest IS was operating in Sri Lanka.

The report also points out that while the Maithripala Sirisena government maintained a “strong military presence” in post-conflict areas and continued to voice concerns about the possible re-emergence of pro-LTTE sympathisers, the government “emphasised its commitment to seek political reconciliation with the Tamil community, including through talks with the Tamil diaspora.”

The report talks of how Colombo pledged to end the broad application of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) that the U.S. government called “a wartime measure” and subsequently took steps to demilitarise in the Northern and Eastern provinces.

Colombo, the U.S. report adds, released on bail a group of LTTE-associated prisoners held under the PTA. (The Hindu)

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