Sri Lanka parliament urged to pass law on foreign terror amid Syria link

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has urged Parliament to speed up the enaction of law against terrorist activities following Easter Sunday bombings and reports that several persons had been fighting for Islamic State in Syria.

Sri Lanka’s existing anti-terrorism laws were enacted in 1979 to combat domestic activities and there were provisions extending its reach to South India. The law had been modeled after a 1974 law in UK against Irish militants.

He said in 2018, a draft bill was presented to Parliament but a committee in charge was still sitting on it.

"We have included provision in the draft anti-terrorism law to fill this lacuna," Wickremesinghe said in a statement.

"The third article of the bill says that any individual or group that threatens or acts against the laws of a foreign government or its operations, or threatens the territorial integrity of a foreign country, it is a crime in Sri Lanka.

"It is languishing in a committee. I urge that it be brought to parliament without delay."

All teachers at educational institutes without visas will be deported, he said. There have been calls to take action against so-called Madrasas and Sharia schools operating within the country.

Other laws would also be drawn up after consultations with the Muslim community, Wickremesinghe said.

President Sirisena had said he will ban two groups National Thowheed Jama’ath and Jamiyathulla Millathu Ibrahim whose members are blamed for carrying out the attacks.

Islamic State, an extremist group promoting a Pan-Islamic agenda, has claimed responsibility for the Easter Sunday bombings.

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Several Sri Lankans are known to have gone to Syria to fight with Islamic State, according to members of Sri Lanka’s Muslim community who raised the alarm and also alerted intelligence officials, but no action was taken in response.

An Individual called Ishaq Mohamed Mushin had gone to Syria in 2013 with his wife and five children and had played a key role in bringing others in, intelligence officials have said. He is still believed to be outside.

In July 2015, there were reports that a person called Mohammed Mushin Zahras Nilam had died in Syria during a US raid.

He is a younger brother of Ishaq and was believed to have travelled to Syria in January 2015 with his wife, six children and a female relative, officials have said.

Nilam’s wife’s second brother Ahmed Thajudeen had joined ISIS and reportedly died in August 2017.

Mohamed Zuhair Arooz, Ishaq’s son-in-law, is still believed to be out of the country. He is believed to be a close associate of UK-educated suicide bomber Jamil Mohammed Abdul, according to intelligence officials.

(Colombo, April 28, 2019-SB)

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