By Malinda Seneviratne
Operations are under way to nab the so-called mastermind who planned and executed the Easter Sunday attacks a couple of years ago. The Mastermind? Really, well, technically, there could have been such a person. Outfits, especially terrorist organisations, have leaders. Such persons could be called masterminds, one supposes. Megalomaniacs thought they may be.
Anyway, some people in Italy think there was/is a mastermind behind the Easter Sunday attacks or else they want others to believe so. A group calling itself United Human Rights Organisation (yes, sounds pretty NGOish and the word ‘united’ is a bit of a giveaway, but more on that later.) has organised a demonstration in Milano to call on whoever to help find the mastermind. Apparently a memo had been submitted to the UN as well on the matter.
On the face of it, there’s nothing wrong with this. Everyone wants justice to be upheld. Everyone wants the truth. The how and why and why now of it and of course the one, who of it merits some discussion, however. It’s not as though António Guterres, the 9th Secretary-General of the United Nations is a cop. Neither is Michelle Bachelet. His Holiness Pope Francis doesn’t go around chasing criminals and busting the mastermind headquarters.
Mastermind or (Mahamolakaru in Sinhala) is a nice title. I couldn’t help but wonder if anyone is interested in capturing the Mastermind of Capitalism, the system that has unleashed depravities, trauma, death, destruction, dismemberment, environmental disasters and cultural erasure across the globe. There could be, theoretically at least, a cabal (probably made of some super rich white men who may or may not confer and/or concur with Chinese counterparts) who meet up now and again or else have some kind of communication arrangement, pulling strings and moving bucks (never mind the collateral) in what is essentially a puppeteering exercise. That would devalue the inherent power of systems and institutions. It’s the same with the Easter Sunday attacks.
Take what the so-called ‘moderate’ Muslims (who were loath to even speculate that Islamic fundamentalism and of course that Wahhabism had something to do with the emergence of the NTJ) had to say in the aftermath of the attacks. They said ‘Western Conspiracy.’ Well, they could be right in a sense. After all Uncle Sam has a long history of funding, arming and training all manner of rogues (monarchs, military juntas, theocrats, dictators and what have you?) in pursuit of securing strategic and financial objectives. It doesn’t mean, does it, that Zahran Hashim was a brain-dead puppet? It doesn’t mean, does it that everyone in the NTJ, suicide bombers, enablers and approvers included, were briefed by some Mastermind via WhatsApp while, say, doing the rounds in a golf cart somewhere in Palm Springs in Florida?
Now let’s get some facts straight. We know that the then Government was aware of the threat. We know that nothing was done by way of taking preemptive measures. Every single individual in the Yahapalana Government is culpable, either because he/she was part of the commissioning exercise (who knows, maybe one of them could have been or is the ‘Mastermind’!) or is guilty of the crime of omission — the latter more likely. There’s no way that Maithripala Sirisena, Ranil Wickremesinghe, Sajith Premadasa, Patali Champika Ranawaka or others with presidential hopes can claim to have clean hands in this. They are part of the story. And that ‘story’ also contains a chapter on essentially dismantling the entire security apparatus, the intelligence operations in particular. Some bragged about it. Others kept their mouths shut when the braggarts rendered the entire population vulnerable to terrorist attacks.
We don’t know where the supporters of the former government were at the time. We don’t know what they said after the attacks. However, if they are interested in finding answers, there are known addresses that can be visited, known ‘molakaru’ who, although they may not have earned the ‘master’ tag, did have some grey matter which was either misdirected or else kept in cold storage.
More facts: A Presidential Commission of Inquiry was appointed and it produced a report. There are conclusions, but a fact-finding mission does not have the authority to serve indictment. That’s up to the Attorney General’s Department. The AG hasn’t been twiddling his thumbs. The IGP hasn’t been either. Over 700 persons were arrested in relation to the attacks; over 300 were enlarged on bail and dozens of others released. There are 11 indictments in which over 40 persons have been named.
Investigations may lead to the discovery of a Mastermind. If indeed there was someone like that. It’s a process. Investigations may lead us to conclude that it was Zahran. Yes, the man’s dead. The nitpickers might want to know how he became the terrorist who played a key role if not the lead role in the attacks. The nitpickers might be happy if all his teachers, all his friends and all his relatives are arrested and summarily executed. They might even say it’s Islam that’s to blame and might reserve their applause until a demand for the burning of all mosques and Qurans is satisfied. They might party till dawn if there was a Kangaroo court and a set of judges who will dish out convictions by snapping their fingers. More likely, though, they really don’t give a damn about truth, justice, convictions and punishment; if preferred political outcomes materialize they would probably drop the whole thing like a hot potato — after all, there was no talk of a Mastermind until Sajith Premadasa lost, remember?
What happened on that Easter Sunday was tragic. What was perpetrated was barbaric. Treating the whole thing like a beggar’s wound. Maybe is the best that UNPers, SJBer, JVPers and their followers can do, given severely reduced circumstances. That could be called a tragedy. Only, it’s a farce.