There have been instances of the armed clashes between Jamaatis and Tamils, a community the Eastern Muslims have been at odds with over questions of land for the last two or three decades.
Lakbimanews quoted unnamed intelligence sources to say that there could be about 500 jihadis in the three districts in the Eastern parts of Sri Lanka.
Batticaloa alone is believed to have 250 of them.
SPURT IN CRIME USING FIREARMS
In recent months, Eastern parts have witnessed a spurt in crimes such as abductions and extortions. At first it was thought that the perpetrators were members of the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Puligal, a breakaway group of the LTTE. Later, the LTTE itself was blamed. But investigations later revealed that jihadis were behind most of these crimes.
Last Friday, Security Forces commander (East) Maj Gen Srinath Rajapakse, the Security Forces and the police held a meeting with moulavis and Muslim politicians and civil society leaders at the Hisbullah Centre, Lakbimanews said.
While Lakbimanews said that the Muslim political leaders had been funding the jihadis for the past 15 years, Indian sources contended that local Muslim political leaders were not involved. They also noted that there has been a significant spurt in the establishment of Madrasas where the radical Wahabi ideology is inculcated. Lakbimanews reported that the police in Kanthankudi, a Muslim town in Batticaloa district, had recently seized seven T-56 rifles, SMGs, communication sets and anti-personnel mines.
The paper said that the Defense Ministry had given the jihadis time until July 2 to surrender their weapons. “Thereafter, we will have no mercy on them,” the paper quoted a Defense Ministry official as saying.
The Muslim dignitaries who had attended Friday’s meeting with the Security Forces had admitted that some Muslim youth were armed and promised to persuade them to give up their weapons.
MIDDLE EASTERN INDOCTRINATION
Meanwhile, employment opportunities in the oil-rich Middle East had facilitated religious indoctrination in Sri Lanka. The new Saudi-returned Wahabists began to take on the Sufiists.
Apparently, Pakistan also stepped in to give money and training to radical Islamists here. According to Indian sources, the South Eastern University at Oluvil in the district of Amparai has become a hotbed of radical Islamists.
[Express buzz - P K Balachandran]