Sri Lanka attacks: Mastermind spent substantial time in India

In a police raid on the HQ of NTJ, three family members of Hashim have been killed as they retaliated. Reportedly one man has been detained at premises.

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News Desk |

A highly publicized investigation by The Hindu, now circulating on news and media platforms across the world, indicates that Zahran Hashim, the mastermind of the Easter bombings in Colombo, spend a “substantial” amount of time in “South India”.

The Hindu cited an unnamed “top Sri Lankan military source” that revealed that Zahran Hashim is the leader of the National Thowheed Jamaath (NTJ), and Sri Lankan military suspects that Hashim, including other radical youth, have been “indoctrinated and trained in India”. The unnamed Sri Lankan official’s statement noted, “We are looking into the IS angle. We also suspect that some of those radical youth were indoctrinated and trained in India, possibly Tamil Nadu.”

Sri Lankan investigators have revealed that Hashim is the leader of the National Thowheed Jamaath, which is held responsible for the well-coordinated Easter Sunday blasts that claimed the lives of 250 innocent people. The Islamic State released an image of eight suicide attackers and claimed responsibility of the attack, however, the Sri Lankan investigation team has identified nine suspected bombers, which also includes a woman.

Read more: India-Israel nexus can’t be ruled out in Sri Lankan attacks

Hashim’s Virtual Links & Travels to India

The Hindu reported that Indian authorities did not comment on Hashim’s travel details in India, however, they provided “evidence of virtual links he maintained with youth believed to be of Indian origin.” An unnamed Indian official revealed that more than 100 followers on Hashim’s Facebook page are “being investigated”.

The unnamed Indian official further added that Indian authorities first detected Hashim’s “doctrinal videos to likely radicalize youth” upon interrogating seven members of a gang, who were followers of Hashim. These gang members were “IS sympathizers” and arrested by Indian authorities from Coimbatore in September 2018 on suspicions of plotting an attack.

On Friday, the Sri Lankan officials confirmed that Hashim was one of the suicide attackers responsible for the blasts on Colombo’s Shangri-La hotel. Hashim spearheaded a radical organization in Sri Lanka’s Eastern province and was notorious for his extremist doctrines and ideologies. The Hindu, upon speaking to locals from Hashim’s hometown, reported that two years ago, Zahran had a “fierce disagreement” with a Maulavi (preacher) on his ideologies and practice of Islam, after which he left town never to return. The community leaders added that since then, Hashim has been “absconding”.

In a report by the AFP, Hilmy Ahamed, Vice President of the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka, also revealed, “Hashim had shifted base to southern India.” Ahamed added that “all his videos have been uploaded from India. He uses boats of smugglers to travel back and forth from southern India.”

Read more: Sri Lanka says wanted extremist died in hotel attack

Zahran Hashim’s Relatives Die in Police Raid

As the police in Sri Lanka on Friday raided the house of Hashim, gunmen opened the fire at security forces and three men set off explosives, killing six children and three women. In gunfire, three other men also died.

Police sources who spoke to Reuters news agency named the three men as Mohamed Hashim, and his sons Zainee Hashim and Rilwan Hashim. All three had been seen in a video circulating on social media calling for all-out war against all non-believers, Reuters adds.