‘The Owl of Minerva takes flight only at Dusk’ –Walter Benjamin
“We have met the enemy, and he is us” — Pogo Comics quoted in the “ISIS is US: The Shocking Truth Behind the Army of Terror.”
April is the cruelest month: Four years ago as the Fahrenheit rose on a beautiful Easter Sunday morning in April 21, bombs exploded simultaneously at seven different locations, luxury hotels and churches, on the east and west coasts of Sri Lanka.
It was a complex logistics operation designed Over the Horizon (OTH), hybrid-war-style, to cripple the tourist-dependent economy and multi-religious society in the strategic Indian Ocean island that is perpetually in the cross-hairs of big power rivalry. Sri Lanka sits front and center of important submarine or Undersea Data Cable (UDC), energy and trade routes in the world and is key to ensure their security.
After the attacks droves of foreign intelligence agents and experts arrived in the country which was kept in economically-devastating lockdowns, including fisheries harbours, for almost three months. This appeared to be a dry run for the following two years of Covid-19 lockdowns that further destroyed the economy.
Last week, as citizens remembered the victims of the attacks of April 2019, Cardinal Malcom Ranjith renewed his call for justice and accountability for the victims and the truth about the hidden hand or Mastermind behind the attacks.
Simultaneously, the Former Attorney General, Dappula De Livera, was summoned to the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID), purportedly to explain his quite reasonable statement on the existence of a ‘Mastermind’ (mahamolakaru), or conspiracy behind the blasts that killed more than 280 people four years ago
Clearly, the Mastermind behind the carnage must be identified to ensure non-recurrence of the crime. While the attacks were mysteriously claimed by the Islamic State (IS), which had no previous history in Sri Lanka, a virtual smoke-screen of local investigations and a party-political blame-game ensured. There were also claims that local intelligence agencies and police sleuths had links to the suicide bombers. Disinformation covered up traces of the Geopolitical interests of external actors and networks whose fingerprints were evident in the design of the crime, the selected targets, the motive, and cover-up operation.
The Missing Mastermind and the politics of Distraction
Whilst harassing the former AG for having spoken out on the need for accountability of the Mastermind, the Ranil Rajapakse regime had also scheduled a New Year celebration, ‘Wasantha Siriya.” This was ironically for the Colombo Diplomatic Community on April 22, the day after the Easter attacks at outside Shangri La Hotel when the county would be still in mourning, and despite the fact that the Sinhala and Tamil communities had already celebrated the New Year two weeks earlier!
Was Wasantha Siriya with traditional new year games, food and festivities to distract from calls for justice for the victims and accountability; and to erase national memory and the history regarding the puzzling details in the Easter 2019 crime when Muslim suicide bombers attacked sea-front luxury hotels and churches in a Buddhist and Hindu dominated multi-religious country where Christians and Muslims had co-existed amicably for centuries?
The Easter attacks were clearly staged to cause a “cascade” of inter-religious violence with rumours that Muslim women would also bomb Buddhist temples– having purchased white cloths for that purpose!
Remarkably, the World Bank “upgraded” Sri Lanka to an Upper Middle Income Country (MIC) in 2019, although the attacks were a huge Exogenous Economic Shock to the tourist dependent economy, followed by economically devastating lockdowns that lasted for months.
MIC status disables a country’s access to concessionary borrowing at low interest rates, reserved for Less Develop Counties (LDC), in the global financial system dominated by the Washington Twins and the colonial Club de Paris.
The World Bank it seems pumped and dumped Sri Lanka into the International Sovereign Bond (ISB), debt trap by compelling the county to borrow from predatory Eurobond private lenders that charge predatory interest rates at a time of crisis. This too, with the Covid-19 panicdemic that followed compounded Sri Lanka’s Debt trap leading to last April’s first ever Sovereign Default. April is indeed the cruelest month– in Sri Lanka too.
This partly explains how Sri Lanka, with the best social and human development indicators in South Asia and among the regions wealthiest countries, that is fertile and resource rich became a train-wreak and Defaulted for the first time in in 75 years of independence last year.
The Mastermind: External Actors and an Over the Horizon Operation (OTH)
International intelligence experts who studied the Easter bombings noted that a leader of a terror group would never kill himself in the first attack. After all, a leader of a group would have a broader goal; and to accomplish his goals he would wish to remain alive if only to conduct further strategic operations to achieve his Goal which other intel experts claimed was setting up an IS Caliphate in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka where the coverted, strategic deep sea Trincomallee harbor lies. This again begs the question: Who was the Mastermind intent on staging ‘cascades of violence’ to destabilize the country– behind the bombers led by Zaharan who was clearly was a bit player, funded and manipulated by external networks?
While the April 21 Easter attacks were mysteriously claimed by the Islamic State or (IS), which had NO history ex ante (or ex post), in Sri Lanka, the local leader of the group responsible for the attacks, Zaharan from Kathankudi, had exploded his suicide bomb remarkably at the brand new Chinese owned Shangri La Hotel, rather than at a religious site although the crime was claimed to be religiously motivated, compounding the puzzle about the motive.
Shangri La faced the Colombo Port and Chinese-built Port city. The blast there and at St Anthony’s Church that overlooked the busiest port in South Asia, where a Chinese research vessel Yuan Wang 3 was berthed at the time, are now reminiscent of the blasts at Lebanon’s Beirut Port, that were also followed by endless cover up ‘investigations’. Four Chinese scientists on the Yuan Wang research team were killed in blasts at Kingsbury Hotel that also overlooks the Colombo harbor.
To add to the mystery, the Saudi and Indian embassies had advanced notice of the attacks. Only the Indians had shared the intel with their Sri Lankan counterparts. The Saudis had also funded the National Thowheed Jamat (NTJ) network through national politician M.L.M Hizbullah of Kathankudi to Zaharan also of Kathankudi. Hizbullah was famous for switching sides between the main political parties– a practice that promotes the bi-partisan corruption racket with foreign funding in the Sri Lanka Parliament.
Meanwhile an Israeli news agency, Whitestream, claimed that Bitcoin had funded the suicide bombers, but dropped the narrative when Bitcoin threatened to sue! There were clearly a lot of foreign intelligence agencies fishing in Sri Lanka’s troubled waters after the Easter attacks, spreading disinformation and confusion, gaming the narrative and investigation.
As calls to identify the Master-mind behind the attacks refused to die down, subsequently, parliamentarian, Harin Fernando, whose father had received advanced notice of the attacks, claimed that the American Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) and FBI, which had removed the cell phones of the Easter suicide bombers during ‘investigations’ had informed him that an entity named ‘Sonic-Sonic’ was the Mastermind behind the attacks.
As ‘Sonic’ pertains to sound waves, this begs the question was Sonic-Sonic an internet Bot in an Over the Horizon Operation whereby religion and a real or purported Islamic network– was weaponized and if so, who has the technology, capability, expertise and experience of using “Mullahs on the Mainframe” to stage IS terror attacks around the world?
The book by a group of US and EU intelligence experts titled “The ISIS is US: the shocking truth behind the Army of Terror” on the history of the IS provides some clues here
Game of Thrones amid Cover up investigations
After the Easter attacks of 2019 a virtual ‘Game of Thrones’ unfolded between Ranil Wickramasinghe and the Rajapakse brothers, who controlled the two main political parties – UNP and SLFP/PP, supported by various other parties. The Rajapakse brothers and Wickramainghe traded places with one another- swapping between President, Prime Minister and Finance Minister – with the support and participation of their and other political parties–to greater or lesser extent funded and used by the external actors claiming to promote “democracy and good governance’ to ‘aid’ the people of the strategic island.
Investigations into the Easter Sunday 2019 crime quite early on morphed into a smoke-screen of disinformation, with a party-political blame game to cover up the external actors, geopolitical interests and the master-mind behind the crime.
Thus, a real time television show, in the form of the Parliamentary Select Committee hearings promoted a blame game among local actors, intelligence agencies, and Defense officials. This effectively distracted from the external actors, networks and geopolitical interests evident in the design, detail and targets of the crime.
With droves of foreign intelligence agents, agencies and experts arrived in Sri Lanka, the CIA/FBI removed crucial evidence from the crime scene and country– the cell phones of the suicide bombers, and subsequently claimed that the Master-Mind of the attack was called ‘Sonic-Sonic” –code for sound waves. Was the mastermind of the Easter Attacks an internet BOT or an intelligence agent? Who gave remote OTH directions to the suicide bombers?
Are democracy and the parliament a political puppet show, replete with horse-trading, increasingly gamed in Over the Horizon (OTH) Operations for Full Spectrum Dominance (FSD), with official development assistance? USAID funding to establish courts, information systems, as well as, Lawfare at the Courts has ensured that all the Central Bank Bondscam cases would be evacuated, while investigations morph into smoke-screens for Disinformation with redacted reports that are embargoed from public scrutiny?
Bondscams, AI, and the Weaponization of Religion
Four years after the Easter Sunday attacks, new developments and debates about the use and abuse of Artificial Intelligence (AI), the threat of AI driven Cyberwarfare. and the call by Elon Musk and other AI experts for a pause in research to assess possibly dangerous impacts of AI technologies to human society may provide insight into the Mastermind and technologies behind the staging of the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka, as well as, the cover up operations.
Also relevant here are the more recent cover-up investigations into the mysterious chilling killing last December (2022), of Mr. Dinesh Shaffter, a primary material Witness in the Court Case on the 2015 Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL), bondscam in which the current Washington backed- President Ranil Rajapakse regime and his network are implicated.
It is perhaps not a co-incidence that at this time Ranil Rajaakse who was implicated in the CBSL bondscam is planning another bondscam this time officially on IMF watch; having recently promised to borrow USD 1.4 billion from Eurobond traders this year alone (2023), in exchange for a loan of a mere $2.9 billion over four year from the IMF as a bailout! These bond traders, the largest of which is BlackRock forced Sri Lanka’s first ever Sovereign Debt Default last year in April 2022!
Mr. Shaffter, primary witness in the Bond scam court case, was found dead in his car after a mysterious phone call lured him to the Colombo cemetery in an era of Artificial Intelligence (AI), enabled Voice Cloning, phone data hacks and wipes, and high financial and cyber-crime, by networks of international actors who have the technology and local networks to stage cybercrimes, contract killings and virtual reality show investigations, and hybrid proxy cyber wars around the world.
AI also enables ex-post data editing, manipulation, and data wipes, and gaming the narrative including of Debt and climate crisis. Cell phones provide the clues as to who was behind the crimes but data are wiped and manipulated also through VOICE CLONING.
AI can be also used by State and non-state parties to identify weaknesses in computer systems and networks, and then exploit those weaknesses to gain access to sensitive data or systems. It can be used to create malware and malicious software that can be used to compromise networks or launch denial-of-service attacks.
Even as CHATGPT and other such AI platforms may enable access to large amounts of certain kinds of data, information, knowledge and narratives the algorithm enables gaming the archive and narrative as these systems select and mediate access to information and thus how knowledge and history comes to be constituted. Indeed, reverse engineering of Debt data, as well as, weather and climate numbers appear ongoing in Sri Lanka where data security is non-existent at this time.
In the context, questions arise as to whether Easter Sunday was an earlier generation of OTH operations, before the Covid-19 lockdown and digital colonialism enabled era of AI enabled cyberwarfare?
So too, the chilling killing of Mr. Shaffter raises questions as bond scams and high financial crimes unfold via global-local networks and contract killings, amid hybrid cyber-kinetic war-style phone hacks and other forms of cybercrime operations. These including debt data manipulation at this time, as Ranil Rajapakse puppet regime emplaced to promote the narrative that “There is No Alternative” to the IMF (TINA to the IMF) prepares to borrow another USS 1.4 billion from the same private markets that charge predatory interest rates– once again on the watch of the IMF, World Bank and colonial Club de Paris in 2023.
Perhaps this too is why Elon Musk and other AI experts have called for a research pause and study of the potential use and abuse of Artificial (AI), particularly impacts on democracy and election gaming (as was exposed in the Cambridge Analytica scandal), and a pause in certain areas of AI research to assess possibly dangerous impacts to human society and security.
Disinformation and Data Security
Connecting the dots in the use and abuse of AI technology, the weaponization of religion and transnational religious networks increasingly ubiquitous in Social media platforms may provide retrospective insight into the OTH Mastermind, as well as, the Cover-up investigations by local and foreign intelligence agencies, police and military, often trained, funded and reliant on the technical assistance including AI of external intelligence agencies of ‘donor countries’ that were also involved in the investigations of the Easter Sunday crime in 2019.
Patterns of Disinformation and cyber operations to manipulate Data and game narratives, also by erasing them are visible at this time in a country where Data Security is non-existent. During the Covid-19 panicdemic there was a cyber-hack and data wipe of the Sri Lanka Government Cloud data storage system of the National Medicines Regulatory authority (NMRA), operated by a private company. This happened as the Ministry of Health spent huge sums to purchase Corvid-19 mRNA injections. Six million Pfizer injections were later discarded and the Health Ministry bankrupted!
However, Countries hit by as stream of compounding crises and staged Exogenous Economic disasters piling up like the IS terror attack, Covid-19 bio war lockdowns and mass militarized injections, or so-called climate shocks like the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004, or the Debt crisis and rapid currency depreciation, or the MV Pearl and MT Diamond Sea of Sri Lanka disasters have little time for reflection, research and study of patterns in the endless disasters as the debt compounds and the IMF enforces local currency depreciation.
These Exogenous Economic Shocks, staged to “Make the Economy Scream” are also Psychological Operations (Psy Ops), to destabilize countries and enable out-migration of talent and expertise, and brain drain in order to de-develop, asset strip and (neo)colonize them, also via weaponized Diaspora networks.
In the final analysis it is clear that the Disinformation campaign to cover up the geopolitical interests and externa Mastermind of the Easer Sunday Exogenous Economic Shock, was much like the crime and cover up operation with regard to the mysterious killing of Mr. Dinesh Shafter, Primary Witness in the Court Case on the 2015 Central Bank Bond scam in which the current President Ranil Rajapakse and his networks are implicated.
Finally, the official aversion to acknowledging the truth about the external masterminds, foreign hands, and geopolitical interests evident in the design of the Easter attacks has been echoed among various civil society, research NGOs and think tanks, seeking to craft social memory, history, archives, museums, and ironically, ‘reconciliation’ with foreign, mainly EU and USAID funding, having forgotten the island’s past and present history of Euro-American Colonialism.
Will our ‘Owl of Minerva’ survive the CHATGPT algorithm in the AI age? This remains an open question, but what is clear is that those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it.
Dr. Darini Rajasingham-Senanayake is a social and medical anthropologist with research expertise in international development and political economic analysis. She was a member of the International Steering Group on “Southern Perspectives on Reform of the International Development Architecture”