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The NYT’s latest Russiagate story on George Papadopoulos is not believable. Here’s why

Attempt to distance Russiagate investigation from discredited Trump Dossier fails on Papadopoulos’s inherent unreliability as a witness

Alexander Mercouris

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As confidence in Robert Mueller’s investigation crumbles there have been the inevitable leaks intended to suggest that the Russiagate investigation is still on track and that despite the increasing appearances to the contrary there is actually some reality to the case it is investigating.

The leaks take the form of claims that Mueller is planning to issue a “supplemental indictment” of Paul Manafort supposedly fleshing out the tax evasion and money laundering claims he has brought against him, and more information about the strange case of George Papadopoulos.

I will not take up time discussing the ‘supplemental indictment’ against Paul Manafort.  The case against Paul Manafort does not touch on the collusion allegations which are the focus of the Russiagate affair, and by all accounts the new ‘supplemental indictment’ will not change that.

What the fact that Mueller is now preparing a ‘supplemental indictment’ against Manafort shows is that what I and many others have said previously is true: the original indictment against Manafort was rushed and unprepared, probably because it was rushed out to counter criticism of Mueller which was appearing in the Wall Street Journal.

Of much more interest is the new information which has been published about George Papadopoulos.  The information appears in an article in the New York Times which reads in part as follows

During a night of heavy drinking at an upscale London bar in May 2016, George Papadopoulos, a young foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, made a startling revelation to Australia’s top diplomat in Britain: Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton.

About three weeks earlier, Mr. Papadopoulos had been told that Moscow had thousands of emails that would embarrass Mrs. Clinton, apparently stolen in an effort to try to damage her campaign.

Exactly how much Mr. Papadopoulos said that night at the Kensington Wine Rooms with the Australian, Alexander Downer, is unclear. But two months later, when leaked Democratic emails began appearing online, Australian officials passed the information about Mr. Papadopoulos to their American counterparts, according to four current and former American and foreign officials with direct knowledge of the Australians’ role.

This information has clearly been published in order to counter the increasingly widely circulating claim that it was the Trump Dossier which triggered the Russiagate investigation.

This is made absolutely clear by the following paragraphs in the New York Times article

The hacking and the revelation that a member of the Trump campaign may have had inside information about it were driving factors that led the F.B.I. to open an investigation in July 2016 into Russia’s attempts to disrupt the election and whether any of President Trump’s associates conspired…..

The hacking and the revelation that a member of the Trump campaign may have had inside information about it were driving factors that led the F.B.I. to open an investigation in July 2016 into Russia’s attempts to disrupt the election and whether any of President Trump’s associates conspired.

The information that Mr. Papadopoulos gave to the Australians answers one of the lingering mysteries of the past year: What so alarmed American officials to provoke the F.B.I. to open a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign months before the presidential election?

It was not, as Mr. Trump and other politicians have alleged, a dossier compiled by a former British spy hired by a rival campaign. Instead, it was firsthand information from one of America’s closest intelligence allies.

Is this however really so?

The drunken bragging of a twenty eight year old man in a London bar presumably with attractive young women present is not usually considered grounds to initiate a top secret investigation resulting in the secret surveillance of people against whom no other evidence of wrongdoing exists.

The known timeline of the Russiagate inquiry anyway strongly argues against this claim

The DNC emails were published by Wikileaks on 22nd July 2016.  The FBI launched the Russiagate inquiry in late July 2016, probably after the DNC emails were published.

This was however after the FBI had interviewed Christopher Steele, the compiler of the Trump Dossier, in early July 2016.  The Trump Dossier’s first two entries are dated 20th June 2016 and 19th July 2016 – ie. before publication of the DNC emails – and it is likely that before the FBI launched the Russiagate inquiry in late July 2016 it had seen them.

The New York Times says that the FBI received the information about Papadopoulos’s bragging in front of the Australian High Commissioner after the DNC emails were published.  However the FBI did not actually interview Papadopoulos until 27th January 2017.

What seems to have happened is that after the Russiagate inquiry was launched the FBI went through all the information it received which might touch on the inquiry.  At some point the Australian High Commissioner’s report about Papadopoulos’s bragging in May 2016 in the London bar came up and a decision was taken to interview him.

However – contrary to what the New York Times says – the FBI cannot have accorded this any great importance since though the Russiagate inquiry was launched at the end of July 2016 the FBI did not interview Papadopoulos until 27th January 2017 ie. six months later.

That makes it all but inconceivable that it was – as the New York Times claims – the report from Australia about what Papadopoulos said in the presence of the Australian High Commissioner in the London bar rather than the Trump Dossier which triggered the Russiagate inquiry.

As it happens the rest of the New York Times article, though outlining at fantastic length the nature of Papadopoulos’s Russian contacts provides no evidence of collusion illegal or otherwise between the Russians, Papadopoulos or anyone else in the Trump campaign.

What the New York Times article does show is who Papadopoulos’s Russian contacts were.

It turns out that they were senior people in the Valdai Discussion Club, which is not at all surprising given that Professor Mifsud, the Maltese professor who was Papadopoulos’s contact, is known to have participated in a Valdai Discussion Club panel on 19th April 2016.

The Valdai Discussion Club for those who do not know is a Russian NGO which regularly hosts discussions between top level Russian officials and senior people from around the world.  It is sometimes spoken of as the Russian equivalent to Davos.  This page from its website gives an idea of its activities and of the very senior people from around the world who have been involved in it,

In other words when Papadopoulos and Professor Mifsud got to know each other Professor Mifsud simply put Papadopoulos in touch with the Russian organisers of the meeting he was attending.

That does not argue for Professor Mifsud’s “high level contacts” within the Russian government; it argues against it.

As it happens no Russian government official appears to have been directly involved in the discussions between the various members of the Valdai Discussion Group and Papadopoulos.

The New York Times says that Igor Ivanov, who was Russia’s foreign minister from 1998 to 2004, was consulted by Papadopoulos’s Russian contacts.  Ivanov is presumably the “Russian MFA Connection” referred to in Papadopoulos’s indictment.  However Ivanov is a retired official not an active one, and his Wikipedia profile suggests that he is now mainly involved in academic work and in the work of various international NGOs. As such he would have been an obvious person for members of the Valdai Discussion Club to consult, and was not in any sense a representative of the Russian government.

As for the subject matter of the discussions between Papadopoulos and his Russian contacts, there is no hint in the New York Times article of any conspiracy between Papadopoulos, the Trump campaign and the Russians concerning the election or any other matter.

Instead we are told – again at inordinate length – about Papadopoulos’s already known but ultimately futile efforts to arrange a summit meeting between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, which Papadopoulos persisted in even after he was told to stop them.

As has by now become typical of the New York Times’s Russiagate coverage, its latest article about Papadopoulos also states as facts things which are in fact strongly disputed.

For example it states as flat facts that it was Professor Mifsud who falsely claimed to Papadopoulos that Olga Polonskaya – one of Papadopoulos’s Russian contacts – was President Putin’s niece, and that it was Professor Mifsud who told Papadopoulos during a hotel meeting in London in April 2016 that the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.

Professor Mifsud however has publicly denying telling Papadopoulos either of these things, and the only evidence he did so is that Papadopoulos says he did.

On the subject of the false claim that Polonskaya was Putin’s niece, it is intrinsically far more likely that this is an invention of Papadopoulos’s and not of Professor Mifsud’s.  Why after all would Mifsud  – presumably in cooperation with the Russians – seek to pass off Polonskaya as Putin’s niece when a five minute internet search would establish that Putin has no niece?  What would be the purpose of such a thing?

The only confirmed reference to Polonskaya being Putin’s niece other than Papadopoulos’s statements to the FBI is an email Papadopoulos sent to the Trump campaign describing her as such.

It is Papadopoulos not Professor Mifsud who has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.  Papadopoulos’s behaviour in fact clearly points to him being a young man out of his depth and given to fantasising.  Even the New York Times calls him “brash, boastful and underqualified”.

It turns out that Papadopoulos even publicly reprimanded British Prime Minister David Cameron in a May 2016 interview with The London Times which he was not authorised by the Trump campaign to give, and for which he was subsequently severely reprimanded, and it is also known that he persisted in trying to arrange with the Russians a summit meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin even when told to stop doing so.

Given that Papadopoulos is a known loose cannon with a record of bragging and a conviction for lying why assume that on any subject  – eg. the false claims about Polonskaya – it is Papadopoulos who is telling the truth and that it is Professor Mifsud who is lying?  Surely the opposite is far more likely to be true?

In the case of Polonskaya the New York Times has to pretend that it is Papadopoulos not Professor Mifsud who is telling the truth because if it were confirmed that it was Papadopoulos who invented the story about Polonskaya being Putin’s niece then that would expose him as a fantasist, which would discredit the whole elaborate scenario the New York Times is trying to spin around him.

That shows why it is dangerous to assume that Papadopoulos is telling the truth on any point when those who have a vested interest in the Russiagate story say he is.  On the contrary Papadopoulos is an inherently unreliable witness and must always be treated as such.

Does the information in the New York Times article however tell us anything we didn’t previously know about the core issue in the case: the “dirt” Papadopoulos says Professor Mifsud told him that the Russians have on Hillary Clinton?

Firstly, despite the New York Times’s painstaking attempts to link the boasts which Papadopoulos blurted out in a London bar to the DNC and Podesta emails, it seems that Papadopoulos whilst he was bragging in the London bar did not in fact refer to those emails.

The relevant paragraph in the New York Times article on this point needs to be read carefully

During a night of heavy drinking at an upscale London bar in May 2016, George Papadopoulos, a young foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, made a startling revelation to Australia’s top diplomat in Britain: Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton.

(bold italics added)

This words “political dirt on Hillary Clinton” are almost certainly copied from the Australian High Commissioner’s report to his government, which was subsequently passed on to the FBI, and which forms the basis of the story in the New York Times.

What these words show is that Papadopoulos was boasting in the London bar that the Russians had “political dirt about Hillary Clinton”, not that they had the DNC or Podesta emails.

What this paragraph also shows is that Papadopoulos in May 2016 was bragging about his high position in the Trump campaign and about his contacts with the Russians, and was doing so openly in the presence of no less a person than the Australian High Commissioner, whose identity he cannot have been unaware of.

This sort of wild indiscretion all but proves that Papadopoulos was not involved in a secret criminal conspiracy with the Russians.  Of course the rest of the New York Times article and the text of his indictment provides no evidence that he was.

In fact it is possible to make some educated guesses about the Papadopoulos affair based on this new information, which leads to diametrically opposite conclusions to the ones reached by the New York Times.

In May 2016 Papadopoulos was clearly on a high, giving foolish interviews to The London Times and bragging in front of the Australian High Commissioner in a London bar about his high level position in the Trump campaign and about his contacts with the Russians.

That strongly points to his boast in the London bar that the Russians had ‘political dirt’ on Hillary Clinton being his own invention.

Subsequently, when he was asked about it by the FBI – long after the Russiagate scandal broken out – he panicked and blamed the whole thing on Professor Mifsud who he said told him about it during their meeting in the London hotel in April 2016.

Note that the wording of the indictment shows that Papadopoulos was vague about what precisely Professor Mifsud was supposed to have told him

On or about April 26, 2016, defendant PAPADOPOULOS met the Professor for breakfast at a London hotel.  During this meeting, the Professor told defendant PAPADOPOULOS that he had just returned from a trip to Moscow where he had met with high-level Russian government officials.  The Professor told defendant PAPADOPOULOS that on that trip he (the Professor) learned that the Russians had obtained “dirt” on then-candidate Clinton.  The Professor told defendant PAPADOPOULOS, as defendant PAPADOPOULOS later described to the FBI, that “They [the Russians] have dirt on her”; “the Russians had emails of Clinton“; “they have thousands of emails“.

(bold italics added)

The words “the Russians had emails of Clinton” make it clear that the emails supposedly discussed by Professor Mifsud and Papadopoulos in the London hotel in April 2016 were not the DNC and Podesta emails but Hillary Clinton’s own 33,000 emails deleted from her private email server.  Had Papadopoulos referred to the DNC and Podesta emails in his interview with the FBI the indictment would surely have said so.

In May 2016 – the month when Papadopoulos was drunkenly bragging in the London bar – the scandal around Hillary Clinton’s misuse of a private email server for her State Department emails was at its height, with the Inspector General of the State Department publishing an 83 page report and with speculation rife about the progress of the FBI’s investigation into the affair.

Possibly Papadopoulos was thinking about Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 emails when he was bragging in the London bar.  More likely he referred to these emails when he tried to explain away his comments in the London bar to the FBI.

By the time the FBI interviewed him Papadopoulos would have known that any reference to the DNC and Podesta emails would have exposed him to suspicion of involvement in a far greater conspiracy.  Frightened and searching for ways to get himself out of trouble, and perhaps realising that he would not be believed if he admitted that he had been lying when he had been bragging in the London bar, he brought up the subject of Hillary Clinton’s emails instead, and involved Professor Mifsud in the story to give himself cover.

Regardless, the fact that Papadopoulos’s recollection of what Professor Mifsud is supposed to have told him is so vague points to what is almost certainly the truth: Papadopoulos is making it all up.

Not only does this seem to me a far more plausible explanation of the Papadopoulos affair than the one suggested by the New York Times, but there is one obvious point which for me confirms it.

Nothing Papadopoulos says about this episode can be independently confirmed.

His account of his meeting in April with Professor Mifsud is disputed by Professor Mifsud who is the only other witness.

Apart from his bragging in the London bar there is no other evidence dating from the time that Papadopoulos had any knowledge that the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.  None of his very numerous communications to the Trump campaign refer to the fact.

To those who say that Papadopoulos would wish to keep his reports about this secret, all I would say is that Papadopoulos cannot have thought of it as being so very secret since in May 2016 he was openly bragging about it in front of the Australian High Commissioner in a London bar.

All this taken together makes it highly likely that Papadopoulos is inventing the whole story, just as he is almost certainly the person who invented the story of Polonskaya being Putin’s niece.

In summary the New York Times story, far from lending credence to the Russiagate collusion allegations actually provides further reason to doubt them.

As for Papadopoulos, far from being a star ‘smoking gun’ witness, he comes across as a boastful fantasist who is not telling the truth.

What the article does highlight is the pressure the FBI and the Mueller investigation are under as the doubts about the Trump Dossier grow.

It is the Trump Dossier which remains however the key to the affair.  This latest attempt to deny the fact and to distract from it does not refute it.  On the contrary it confirms it.

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Is this man the puppet master of Ukraine’s new president or an overhyped bogeyman?

Smiling to himself, Kolomoisky would be within his rights to think that he has never had it so good.

RT

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Via RT…


It doesn’t actually matter if Ukrainian-Israeli billionaire Igor Kolomoisky is the real power behind Volodymyr Zelensky – the president elect has to get rid of the oligarch if he is to make a break with the country’s corrupt past.

The plots, deceits and conflicts of interest in Ukrainian politics are so transparent and hyperbolic, that to say that novice politician Zelensky was a protégé of his long-time employer was not something that required months of local investigative journalism – it was just out there.

Zelensky’s comedy troupe has been on Kolomoisky’s top-rated channel for the past eight years, and his media asset spent every possible resource promoting the contender against incumbent Petro Poroshenko, a personal enemy of the tycoon, who hasn’t even risked entering Ukraine in the past months.

Similarly, the millions and the nous needed to run a presidential campaign in a country of nearly 50 million people had to come from somewhere, and Kolomoisky’s lieutenants were said to be in all key posts. The two issued half-hearted denials that one was a frontman for the other, insisting that they were business partners with a cordial working relationship, but voters had to take their word for it.

Now that the supposed scheme has paid off with Zelensky’s spectacular victory in Sunday’s run-off, Ukrainian voters are asking: what does Kolomoisky want now, and will he be allowed to run the show?

‘One-of-a-kind chancer’

Born in 1963, in a family of two Jewish engineers, Kolomoisky is the type of businessman that was once the staple of the post-Soviet public sphere, but represents a dying breed.

That is, he is not an entrepreneur in the established Western sense at all – he did not go from a Soviet bloc apartment to Lake Geneva villas by inventing a new product, or even setting up an efficient business structure in an existing field.

Rather he is an opportunist who got wealthy by skilfully reading trends as the Soviet economy opened up – selling Western-made computers in the late 1980s – and later when independent Ukraine transitioned to a market economy and Kolomoisky managed to get his hands on a large amount of privatisation vouchers that put many of the juiciest local metals and energy concerns into his hands, which he then modernised.

What he possesses is a chutzpah and unscrupulousness that is rare even among his peers. Vladimir Putin once called him a “one-of-a-kind chancer” who managed to “swindle [Chelsea owner] Roman Abramovich himself.” In the perma-chaos of Ukrainian law and politics, where all moves are always on the table, his tactical acumen has got him ahead.

Kolomoisky’s lifeblood is connections and power rather than any pure profit on the balance sheet, though no one actually knows how that would read, as the Privat Group he part-owns is reported to own over 100 businesses in dozens of Ukrainian spheres through a complex network of offshore companies and obscure intermediaries (“There is no Privat Group, it is a media confection,” the oligarch himself says, straight-faced.)

Unsurprisingly, he has been dabbling in politics for decades, particularly following the first Orange Revolution in 2004. Though the vehicles for his support have not been noted for a particular ideological consistency – in reportedly backing Viktor Yushchenko, then Yulia Tymoshenko, he was merely putting his millions on what he thought would be a winning horse.

Grasp exceeds reach

But at some point in the post-Maidan euphoria, Kolomoisky’s narcissism got the better of him, and he accepted a post as the governor of his home region of Dnepropetrovsk, in 2014.

The qualities that might have made him a tolerable rogue on TV, began to grate in a more official role. From his penchant for using the political arena to settle his business disputes, to creating his own paramilitary force by sponsoring anti-Russian battalions out of his own pocket, to his somewhat charmless habit of grilling and threatening to put in prison those less powerful than him in fits of pique (“You wait for me out here like a wife for a cheating husband,” begins a viral expletive-strewn rant against an overwhelmed Radio Free Europe reporter).

There is a temptation here for a comparison with a Donald Trump given a developing country to play with, but for all of the shenanigans, his ideological views have always been relatively straightforward. Despite his Russia-loathing patriotism, not even his fans know what Kolomoisky stands for.

The oligarch fell out with fellow billionaire Poroshenko in early 2015, following a battle over the control of a large oil transport company between the state and the governor. The following year, his Privat Bank, which at one point handled one in four financial transactions in the country was nationalized, though the government said that Kolomoisky had turned it into a mere shell by giving $5 billion of its savings to Privat Group companies.

Other significant assets were seized, the government took to London to launch a case against his international companies, and though never banished, Kolomoisky himself decided it would be safer if he spent as long as necessary jetting between his adopted homes in Switzerland and Tel Aviv, with the occasional trip to London for the foreseeable future.

But the adventurer falls – and rises again. The London case has been dropped due to lack of jurisdiction, and only last week a ruling came shockingly overturning the three-year-old nationalization of Privat Bank.

Smiling to himself, Kolomoisky would be within his rights to think that he has never had it so good.

Own man

Zelensky must disabuse him of that notion.

It doesn’t matter that they are friends. Or what handshake agreements they made beforehand. Or that he travelled to Geneva and Tel-Aviv 13 times in the past two years. Or what kompromat Kolomoisky may or may not have on him. It doesn’t matter that his head of security is the man who, for years, guarded the oligarch, and that he may quite genuinely fear for his own safety (it’s not like nothing bad has ever happened to Ukrainian presidents).

Volodymyr Zelensky is now the leader of a large country, with the backing of 13.5 million voters. It is to them that he promised a break with past bribery, graft and cronyism. Even by tolerating one man – and one who makes Poroshenko look wholesome – next to him, he discredits all of that. He will have the support of the people if he pits himself against the puppet master – no one would have elected Kolomoisky in his stead.

Whether the oligarch is told to stay away, whether Ukraine enables the financial fraud investigation into him that has been opened by the FBI, or if he is just treated to the letter of the law, all will be good enough. This is the first and main test, and millions who were prepared to accept the legal fiction of the independent candidate two months ago, will now want to see reality to match. Zelensky’s TV president protagonist in Servant of the People – also broadcast by Kolomoisky’s channel, obviously, would never have compromised like that.

What hinges on this is not just the fate of Zelensky’s presidency, but the chance for Ukraine to restore battered faith in its democracy shaken by a succession of compromised failures at the helm.

Igor Ogorodnev

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Roger Waters – The People’s Champion for Freedom

In February 2019, Waters showed his support for the Venezuelan Maduro government and continues to be totally against US regime change plans there.

Richard Galustian

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Submitted by Richard Galustian 

Roger Waters is one of Britain’s most successful and talented musicians and composers but more importantly is an outstanding champion for freedom in the world, beyond compare to any other artist turned political activist.

By way of background, he co-founded the rock band Pink Floyd in 1965.

A landmark turning point of his political activism occurred in 1990, when Waters staged probably the largest rock concert in history, ‘The Wall – Live in Berlin’, with an attendance of nearly half a million people.

In more recent years Waters famously narrated the 2016 documentary ‘The Occupation of the American Mind: Israel’s Public Relations War in the United States’ about the insidious influence of Zionist Israel to shape American public opinion.

Waters has been an outspoken critic of America’s Neocons and particularly Donald Trump and his policies.

In 2017, Waters condemned Trump’s plan to build a wall separating the United States and Mexico, saying that his band’s iconic famous song, ‘The Wall’ is as he put it “very relevant now with Mr. Trump and all of this talk of building walls and creating as much enmity as possible between races and religions.”

In February 2019, Waters showed his support for the Venezuelan Maduro government and continues to be totally against US regime change plans there, or any place else for that matter.

Here below is a must see recent Roger Waters interview, via satellite from New York, where he speaks brilliantly, succinctly and honestly, unlike no other celebrity, about FREEDOM and the related issues of the day.

The only other artist turned activist, but purely for human rights reasons, as she is apolitical, is the incredible Carla Ortiz.

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ISIS Says Behind Sri Lanka Bombings; Was ‘Retaliation’ For New Zealand Mosque Massacre

ISIS’s claim couldn’t be confirmed and the group has been  known to make “opportunistic” claims in the past, according to WaPo. 

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Via Zerohedge…


Shortly after the death toll from Sunday’s Easter bombings in Sri Lanka climbed above the 300 mark, ISIS validated the Sri Lankan government’s suspicions that a domestic jihadi organization had help from an international terror network while planning the bombings were validated when ISIS took credit for the attacks.

The claim was made via a report from ISIS’s Amaq news agency. Though the group has lost almost all of the territory that was once part of its transnational caliphate, ISIS now boasts cells across the Muslim world, including in North Africa and elsewhere. Before ISIS took credit for the attack, a Sri Lankan official revealed that Sunday’s attacks were intended as retaliation for the killing of 50 Muslims during last month’s mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand.

However, the Sri Lankan government didn’t offer any evidence for that claim, or the claim that Sunday’s attacks were planned by two Islamic groups (though that now appears to have been substantiated by ISIS’s claim of responsibility). The group is believed to have worked with the National Tawheed Jamaath, according to the NYT.

“The preliminary investigations have revealed that what happened in Sri Lanka was in retaliation for the attack against Muslims in Christchurch,” State Minister of Defense Ruwan Wijewardene told the Parliament.

Meanwhile, the number of suspects arrested in connection with the attacks had increased to 40 from 24 as of Tuesday. The government had declared a national emergency that allowed it sweeping powers to interrogate and detain suspects.

On Monday, the FBI pledged to send agents to Sri Lanka and provide laboratory support for the investigation.

As the death toll in Sri Lanka climbs, the attack is cementing its position as the deadliest terror attack in the region.

  • 321 (as of now): Sri Lanka bombings, 2019
  • 257 Mumbai attacks, 1993
  • 189 Mumbai train blasts, 2006 166 Mumbai attacks, 2008
  • 151 APS/Peshawar school attack, 2014
  • 149 Mastung/Balochistan election rally attack, 2018

Meanwhile, funeral services for some of the bombing victims began on Tuesday.

Even before ISIS took credit for the attack, analysts told the Washington Post that its unprecedented violence suggested that a well-financed international organization was likely involved.

The bombings on Sunday, however, came with little precedent. Sri Lanka may have endured a ghastly civil war and suicide bombings in the past – some credit the Tamil Tigers with pioneering the tactic – but nothing of this scale. Analysts were stunned by the apparent level of coordination behind the strikes, which occurred around the same time on both sides of the country, and suggested the attacks carried the hallmarks of a more international plot.

“Sri Lanka has never seen this sort of attack – coordinated, multiple, high-casualty – ever before, even with the Tamil Tigers during the course of a brutal civil war,” Alan Keenan, a Sri Lanka expert at the International Crisis Group, told the Financial Times. “I’m not really convinced this is a Sri Lankan thing. I think the dynamics are global, not driven by some indigenous debate. It seems to me to be a different kind of ballgame.”

Hinting at possible ISIS involvement, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a Monday press conference that “radical Islamic terror” remained a threat even after ISIS’s defeats in Syria.

Of course, ISIS’s claim couldn’t be confirmed and the group has been  known to make “opportunistic” claims in the past, according to WaPo. The extremist group said the attacks were targeting Christians and “coalition countries” and were carried out by fighters from its organization.

Speculation that the government had advanced warning of the attacks, but failed to act amid a power struggle between the country’s president and prime minister, unnerved citizens and contributed to a brewing backlash. Following the bombings, schools and mass had been canceled until at least Monday, with masses called off “until further notice.”

 

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