minister in the Sri Lankan government has accused a little-known organisation
called the National Thawheed Jama’ath (NTJ) for the Easter Sunday church and
hotel serial blasts in Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa.
Fernando, the minister for telecommunications, foreign employment and sports,
tweeted a picture of an internal police memo, which warned about a possible
bomb attack by the NTJ.
What is the NTJ?
The NTJ is
a local jihadist group, which has been associated with activities against the
country’s Buddhist majority. Last year, the NTJ was linked to a series of acts
of vandalism targeting Buddhist temples in Mawanella.
suggest that the NTJ may be a splinter group of the radical Sri Lanka Thowheed
Jama’ath (SLTJ), a relatively known group that gained infamy when its secretary
Abdul Rajiz was arrested in 2016 for giving speeches that incited hatred
Speckhard, director of the International Centre for the Study of Violent
Extremism, told The New York Times that the NTJ is not a separatist group —
rather; it aims to introduce the global militant movement in Sri Lanka.
remarked that the recent attacks seem “as if they came right out of the Daesh,
Al-Qaida, global militant playbook, as these are attacks fomenting religious
hatred by attacking multiple churches on a high religious holiday”.
reports suggest the extremist Zahran Hashim might be the mastermind behind
these attacks. Hashim was a regular lecturer at NTJ.
some scholars who study violent extremist groups continue to remain sceptical
about NTJ being solely responsible for these bomb attacks. They argue that the
NTJ has just had a history of anti-Buddhist acts, and more information would be
required before commenting with certainty.
Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamaath
social media are confusing NTJ with the predominantly India-based Tamil Nadu
Thowheed Jamaath (TNTJ).
The TNTJ is
a non-political Islamic organisation based in Tamil Nadu, which has some
presence in countries such as Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab
Emirates and others.
It aims to
preach “true” Islam to Muslims and non-Muslims. The group has captured
headlines for organising protests against load shedding and asking for the
closure of liquor shops.
There is no
publicly available evidence to suggest that TNTJ is connected to the NTJ.