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Op/Ed: Easter Attacks a “Game-Changing Event” in Sri Lanka

Professors Pinpoint 4 Underlying Causes, Say Bombings Signal ISIS Strength in Southeast Asia

By Arie Kruglanski, Michele Gelfand and Malkanthi Hettiarachchi

Vigil for victims of Sri Lankan Easter bombings

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

Mourners light candles during a vigil in Colombo last month in memory of the victims of the Easter Sunday bomb blasts in Sri Lanka, which targeted churches and luxury hotels.

The coordinated bombings of churches and hotels that left hundreds dead in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday were a reminder that even countries that have had success in stemming radicalization still face the risk of terrorism, according to an op-ed by two UMD psychology professors.

Writing for the foreign policy magazine The National Interest, UMD Professors Arie Kruglanski and Michele Gelfand, and counterterrorism researcher Malkanthi Hettiarachchi, describe how the attacks in Sri Lanka demonstrated the consequences of political developments following a decade-long war against the Tamil Tigers, the dysfunction of the current government and the influence of the Islamic State and outside radicalized networks:

To millions of Sri Lankans the Easter Sunday tragedy must have seemed a nightmare come true, a frightening déjà vu of the rampant violence this island nation has known for thirty years of LTTE terror (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam). The horrific attacks in which estimated 253 lost their lives and many hundreds were wounded signaled that the decade’s calm that prevailed after LTTE’s 2009 destruction by Sri Lanka’s Army is over.

Read the full essay here:

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