Sri Lanka is taking all steps necessary in collaboration with other countries, including India, to ensure the Islamic State or ISIS doesn’t spread its tentacles in south Asia after the horrific Easter bombings in April that killed over 250 people, Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India Austin Fernando said.
Speaking exclusively to ThePrint, Fernando said, “We have started working on it. Investigations are still going on, but we have found some of those who had links with ISIS (and they) are under custody. Some have committed suicide, therefore numbers are reduced. We are also working with international organisations to ensure that any person who is involved in these types of activities is controlled in other countries too.”
Reiterating Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s suggestions, which he is believed to have made during his visit to Colombo last week, the Sri Lankan envoy said both India and Sri Lanka will now jointly work together in carrying out counter-terrorism measures.
“Countering terrorism cannot be done by individual states. There has to be a group effort,” he added.
In the aftermath of the terror attacks in Sri Lanka, several media reports suggested that the terrorists had visited some Indian cities.
“This message was first given by the Indian intelligence to our intelligence agencies. After the attacks, there were so many countries, including India, who sent their teams to investigate. Some of them are still there. Therefore, the interest of international (community) getting involved in finding or solving the issue is still there,” Fernando said.
During his visit, PM Modi is believed to have held talks with Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on the issue of creating a joint anti-terror mechanism. Sri Lanka believes such a mechanism will be successful if more and more countries, especially western nations, become a part of it.
“This has been in the offing, which we had informed India. But, the fact remains whether it is these three countries or any other countries…There are so many countries, even those in the West, because they have information and they have enhanced technology. So, international groups getting involved in this is most welcome,” he said.
Last week, Sri Lanka’s chief of national intelligence Sisira Mendis was sacked after he said that the President was warned of a possible ISIS attack in the country.
President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe have both said they were not briefed about the intelligence inputs that India had shared with the Sri Lankan authorities before the 21 April attack claimed by the ISIS.