Sri Lankan Muslims joining ISIS: Minister to reveal more details | Sunday Observer

Sri Lankan Muslims joining ISIS: Minister to reveal more details

20 November, 2016

Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe statement in parliament that as many as 32 Sri Lankan Muslims may have joined ISIS has stoked fears that it may fuel anti-Muslim sentiments, however, the Minister told the Sunday Observer that he stands by his statement and is willing to reveal more in the future.

The minister made the revelations in Parliament on Friday (18) when he said that 32 Sri Lankan Muslims from well-to-do educated families are purported to have joined the ISIS terrorist outfit.

“There is a serious situation brewing in the country,” he told the House adding that people were coming to the country on tourist visas to preach at Muslim schools in an attempt to brainwash students in places such as Beruwela and Kalmunai. When asked why he had mentioned an old statistics which had been repeated in the media last year, he added that since the details emanate from intelligence reports, he would ponder on whether to reveal more in time to come.

The Minister also criticized the Sri Lanka Thowheed Jamath (SLTJ) and its secretary who was arrested recently, for making defamatory statements against the Buddha.

Some Muslims fear that the Minister’s statements may fuel anti-muslim sentiments. Muslim Council of Sri Lanka President N.M. Ameen in a statement said that they “Strongly object to this misplaced statement. The facts given by the Honorable Minister were reported in the media more than one year ago when a Sri Lankan combatant died fighting with ISIS.” He added that the statement comes at a very opportune moment when certain extremist elements are attempting to tarnish the image of the Muslim community for reasons best known to them.

“The Muslims of Sri Lanka has a long history of peaceful co-existence and have stood with the Sri Lankans at good times and at times of adversity. The entire Muslim community has condemned the un-Islamic comments made by the Secretary of the Sri Lanka Thowheed Jamath (SLTJ), Abdul Razick. “Twenty-three Muslim Religious and Civil Society organizations headed by the All Ceylon Jamiathul Ulema issued a statement condemning the speech made by SLTJ’s secretary.”

He urged Minister Rajapakshe to provide the evidence and take immediate action against anyone may have violated the laws of the land irrespective of ethnicity or religion.

Defence Secretary Karunasena Hettiarachi said in January this year that at least 36 Sri Lankan Muslims have left for Syria to join the ISIS.

According to the most recent US State Department Country Report on Terrorism, Sri Lanka saw the first confirmation that one of its citizen’s had joined ISIS when social media announced the death of Sharfaz Shuraih Muhsin, an ISIS fighter after he was killed in coalition air strikes in Syria.

The report cites that Thauqeer Ahmed – Muhsin’s brother-in-law and fellow Sri Lankan national – was later identified as a member of ISIS in Syria. According to media reports quoting Turkish government sources, 10 members of Muhsin’s family went to Iraq through Turkey.