While traveling around Sri Lanka for over 22 years I always expected someday the situation would change for the better”, says the veteran British photographer Stephen Champion. However, after nearly two decades since he first set his foot on the island the country is still battling, he says. “We are still looking at the very similar scenario. History seems to be repeating itself,” Mr. Champion told BBC Sandeshaya at the launch of his latest book on Sri Lanka.
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), also called the New Silk Road, is based on a 2,100-year-old trade route between the Middle East and Eastern Asia, called the Silk Road. It wound its ways across the huge landmass Eurasia to the most eastern parts of China. It favored trading based on the Taoist philosophy of harmony and peaceful coexistence –trading in the original sense of the term, an exchange with “win-win” outcomes, both partners benefitting equally.Continue reading →
In order to better understand what motivates Australian radical islamists to join or support a terrorist group it is first necessary to get a better understanding of who they are. This working paper examines data sets from 173 Australian citizens and residents to paint a picture of our own cohort of radical Islamist terrorists, including how likely they are to be rehabilitated. For the accompanying infographic feature accompanying this report, click here.
Since 2012 several hundred Australians have travelled to Syria and Iraq to undertake jihad with Islamic State, al-Qaeda or other radical Islamist groups. Dozens more provided financial support to them or other jihadis, or planned, conducted or supported terrorist attacks in Australia on behalf of Islamic State.
The Library of Congress made public a rare 2,000-year-old text of early Buddhism on Monday, and it offers a glimpse into early Buddhist history during its formative years. The scroll originated in Gandhara, an ancient Buddhist region in northern Afghanistan and Pakistan. Only a few hundred Gandharan manuscripts are known to scholars worldwide, and each is vital to understanding the early development of Buddhist literature. For instance, using linguistic analysis, scholars study these manuscripts to chart the spread of Buddhism throughout Asia.
When one of my articles on the jihadist network that perpetrated the 21/4 attacks in Sri Lanka referred to the inspirations behind the 9/11 attacks in USA, I was surprised to receive vehement rejections of the latter contention from two good friends and one distant ‘aide’ in Canada – challenges sent independently of each other.
These challenges have been rejected by other friends – at times quite bluntly. But Jeremy Liyanage, Jean-Pierre Page and Chris Black are individuals with whom I have interacted fruitfully and whose commitment to the pursuit of truth and reform in this world are not in doubt. So, this revisiting of 9/11 and its perpetrators on my part is a personal journey that addresses my three friends, while yet seeking to raise significant issues in today’s world – especially embracing the ramifications of the ideological currents known as “Wahhabism” and “Salafism” (terms that seem to be deployed interchangeably).Continue reading →
If there is any country in the world that is entitled to adopt the phoenix as its national symbol, it is Afghanistan.
Consider. It has suffered a history of gratuitous devastation, ever since the ill-fated foray by the British Army of the Indus in 1839. Despite the ravages caused by the British during the 19th century, by 1900 its Amir retained enough authority to treat the British Agent at Kabul with humiliating condescension. My ancestor Fakir Iftikharuddin served as British Agent at Kabul from 1907-1910. He complained to his Government that his life was ‘very unpleasant and uncomfortable…no-one is allowed to meet him or to talk to him’. ‘In fact,’ he concluded, ‘the life of a British Agent is no better than a political prisoner.’ Continue reading →
Michael, …… In addressing your previous requests for my insights, [let me present]twelve hypotheses relating to terrorism. I call them “hypotheses” because they are insights garnered from only a handful of Zen-related terrorist incidents in 1930s Japan, and I therefore wished to be careful about drawing overly broad conclusions.
Abstract: Over the course of Easter Sunday 2019, eight bombs went off in popular hotels and historical churches across Colombo, the capital city of Sri Lanka; other coastal cities in the west; and towns in the east of the country, killing hundreds. The Islamic State-claimed attack stunned terrorism analysts because there had been no known history of jihadi violence in the country. Several of the attackers were well educated, and two were the scions of a very wealthy family, providing the cell with advantages in its plotting. There were indications, however, from as early as January 2017 that individuals associated with the National Tawheed Jamaat were becoming increasingly supportive of the Islamic State and mobilizing to violence that was missed by local law enforcement. The Sri Lanka attacks may be early evidence that the Islamic State is taking an important and renewed interest in South Asia, following losses in Syria and Iraq.
On Monday, my 12-year-old son learnt his classmate had passed away at the Intensive Care Unit, a victim of one of the blasts in Colombo. My son’s mother and I grew up in the long shadow of the Black July anti-Tamil pogrom and the UNP-JVP violence in the late 80s. For many in our generation and older, there is a normalization of violence. This is often confused with getting used to or accepting violence.
After the Christchurch massacre in March, many Kiwis trying to get to grips with the scale of the violence unthinkingly said that since I came from Sri Lanka, I was far more used to dealing with terrorism. I suppose that’s in a way true. Mundane things done every day have their own logic and reason that no one from outside cycles of violence would understand. In Kabul, a city where so much is wrong and getting worse, I feel completely at home amidst the detours, convoys, checkpoints, occasional explosion, news of imminent attacks and sporadic gunfire – or the sound of an engine back-firing shrugged off as gunfire, obviously the lesser evil there. The assumption that the more time one spends with it, the greater the ease in dealing with terrorism is, however, untrue. Continue reading →
S. Venkat Narayan, in Island, 21 August 2018 where the title is “Sunil Gavaskar: If “Immy” Khan’t usher in a new eram of friendship between India and Pakistan, nobody can”
Sunil Gavaskar, the Indian cricket legend, friend and rival of Imran Khan during their cricketing years, has expressed the hope that Khan will succeed in improving the strained relations between their nuclear-armed countries. “Not just Pakistanis but the Indians also want him to take care of the problems between the two countries and bring a new zest to the relationship, for if Imran ‘Khan’t then nobody can!” Gavaskar declared in a special article published in The Times of India today.
Thuppahi's Blog · This web site presents the interventions of MICHAEL ROBERTS in the public realm with reference to Sri Lankan political affairs. It will embrace the politics of cricket as well. ROBERTS was educated at St. Aloysius College in Galle and the universities of Peradeniya and Oxford. He taught History at Peradeniya University and Anthropology at Adelaide university. He is now retired and lives in Adelaide.