On Wednesday (14 April 2021), Sri Lanka banned 11 extremist groups, including Islamic State (ISIS) and al-Qaeda. The banned organisations include the Sri Lanka Islamic Students Movement and eight other local social and religious groups. Under the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary) Provisions Act, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa issued a special gazette notification banning radical groups.
The notification said that if someone participates or conspires to act against the country, then they may face up to 20 years in prison. Acting as a participant, offering leadership, or supporting organisations will be considered as offences. The president could also order the confiscation of the organisations' funds and properties.
The move to ban organisations comes a week ahead of the second anniversary of the Easter Sunday suicide attack, 2019. The suicide bombings had killed 279 people and injured almost 500 others. Sri Lanka had previously outlawed the local Jihadi group National Thowheeth Jamaath (NTJ) and two other groups.
Former President Maithripala Sirisena convened a special investigation panel in 2019 that recommended the outlawing of Muslim terrorist organisations that promote radicalism in the Buddhist-majority nation. The report, which was released earlier this year, also demanded that the BBS, or Forces of Buddhist Power, an extremist Buddhist faction, be banned. However, the latest gazette excludes this group. Despite receiving an alert from India, the then-President and his intelligence officers failed to prevent the attack.
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Sri Lanka, has called for decisive action not only against the perpetrators but also against the politicians and officials who failed to intervene ahead of the second anniversary of the fatal attack.