'BBS Is A Western Conspiracy' : Mahinda Rajapaksa

National Organization Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) was a Western-backed conspiracy to alienate minority Muslims and defeat his government, former president Mahinda Rajapaksa said.

In an interview with the French news agency, AFP, on Wednesday (22) Rajapaksa said that neither he nor his defense secretary brother, Gotabaya rajapaksa had anything to do with the BBS despite popular belief that the Rajapaksas were behind the group.

"Look at where the BBS travelled (Norway and the US)," Rajapaksa said. "It is clearly a (then) opposition project."

He accused JHU leader Patali Champika Ranawaka of defending the BBS at a time when he wanted to take action against the group widely held responsible for a string of attacks against minority Muslims.

A BBS office in the southern city of Galle was opened by then Secretary of Defense Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, but the then defense ministry spokesman had denied government links with the extremist group.

The BBS itself had repeatedly denied it was a proxy of external forces, but Rajapaksa said he was now convinced that the BBS was actually working against his interests.

"I lost the election partly because minority Muslims ditched me thanks to the work of the BBS." the former president said.

(With inputs from Economy Next)