What the Easter Attacks in Sri Lanka Tell Us About the Islamic State

Apr 30, 2019 | 09:00 GMT

Candles in the shape of Sri Lanka on April 29 in Ahmedabad, India.

Candles in the shape of Sri Lanka on April 29 in Ahmedabad, India, to show solidarity with victims of the Easter 2019 attacks in Sri Lanka.



  • While a jihadist attack on Easter was unsurprising, the site of the attack, Sri Lanka, was.
  • The bombings show the Islamic State movement continues to pose a threat through its franchise groups and grassroots terrorists, but are not a useful gauge of its core organization.
  • The jihadist threat in Sri Lanka will no longer be ignored, and future would-be attackers will face a far less permissive environment.

The April 21 attacks against three churches and four hotels in Sri Lanka rocked the island nation and have reverberated around the globe. While the location of this attack -- Sri Lanka -- was a surprise, that an attack happened was not. We had warned our Threat Lens clients that we anticipated attacks against houses of worship over the Passover and Easter holidays -- although we certainly were not specifically expecting one in Sri Lanka. Due to the high death toll in these attacks, they have generated much press coverage, some of which has presented these attacks as something unprecedented, or as an accurate gauge of the status of the Islamic State. But these attacks were neither....

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