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Sri Lanka bans 11 extremist groups, including ISIS and al-Qaeda

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa under a special gazette notification issued on Tuesday proscribed the radical groups under the Prevention of Terrorism (temporary) Provisions Act.

A special probe panel appointed in 2019 by former President Maithripala Sirisena had recommended the banning of Muslim extremist organisations who advocate radicalism in the Buddhist-majority country. (Photo source: IE)

Sri Lanka has banned 11 hardline Islamist organisations, including the Islamic State (ISIS) and al-Qaeda, for their links to extremist activities in the country, according to an official announcement.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa under a special gazette notification issued on Tuesday proscribed the radical groups under the Prevention of Terrorism (temporary) Provisions Act.

The notification specifies that any person who acts in contravention or conspires to act would be sentenced to prison terms between 20 and 10 years. Among the banned organisations are local Muslim groups, including the Sri Lanka Islamic Students Movement.

In the immediate aftermath of the 2019 Easter Sunday suicide bomb attacks, Sri Lanka had banned the local Jihadi group National Thowheeth Jamaath (NTJ) and two other outfits.

The NTJ suicide bomb attacks on churches and luxury hotels here had killed 270 people while injuring 500 others. A special probe panel appointed in 2019 by former President Maithripala Sirisena had recommended the banning of Muslim extremist organisations who advocate radicalism in the Buddhist-majority country.

The report also asked for the banning of an extremist Buddhist group, BBS or the Forces of Buddhist Power. The panel said that the BBS’ actions had contributed to the radicalisation of Muslims.

The gazette, however, has excluded the Buddhist group. The panel report was rejected by all political parties despite the head of the local Catholic church Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith urging the implementation of its recommendations which he said would give some justice to the victims of the bombings.

The panel had found Sirisena and the then top security police brass culpable for failure to prevent the bombings despite the availability of prior intelligence on the impending attack.

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