Lankan terrorists’ chilling TN links; NIA finds evidence in Coimbatore

Chennai / Colombo: Days after the deadly suicide bomb attacks in Sri Lanka, which killed around 360 people, it has emerged that the terrorists involved in the explosions had links with IS sympathisers in Tamilnadu.

According to sources, Indian investigating agencies had flagged videos and online speeches by the alleged mastermind of the Sri Lanka Easter Sunday terrorist attacks, Moulvi Zahran Hashim, that sought to lure and radicalise recruits.

The videos, seized from Coimbatore, showed Hashim asking youths from Sri Lanka, Tamilnadu and Kerala to establish an Islamic rule in the region.

Hashim’s videos and speeches were part of seizures made by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) during raids in Coimbatore last year. Indian agencies alerted Sri Lankan counterparts and had warned specifically about the use of radicalised suicide bombers attacking churches and the Indian High Commission in Colombo.

The alert was based on the interrogation of Islamic State suspects who were arrested in Coimbatore last year, reports said. Six members of an IS-inspired module were held by the Tamilnadu police in September on charges of plotting to assassinate Hindu leaders in the State. The probe was taken over by the NIA in October 2018.

Meanwhile, an explosion occurred in a town east of the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo today but there were no casualties, a police spokesperson said.

Spokesperson Ruwan Gunasekera said police were investigating the blast on empty land behind the magistrate’s court in Pugoda, 40 km (25 miles).

“There was an explosion behind the court, we are investigating,” he said, adding it was not a controlled explosion like other blasts in recent days. Meanwhile, authorities in Sri Lanka continued their search operations with the help of army and arrested 16 more suspects in connection with the horrific blasts.

The arrested people were being interrogated at length by investigation sleuths in connection with the country’s deadliest attack.

Nine suicide bombers, believed to be the members of a local Islamist extremist group National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ), carried out a series of devastating blasts that tore through three churches and three luxury hotels.

Officials said that with the arrest of 16 more people on Wednesday, the total number of suspects under police custody has risen to 76. Many of the arrested people have suspected links to the NTJ, the group blamed for the bombings. However, the NTJ has not claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks and identified suicide bombers who carried out the devastating blasts. Authorities have deployed thousands of troops to help police carry out search operations. Over 5,000 army personnel have been deployed around the country.

Prez to meet religious heads
President Maithripala Sirisena has convened an all-party meeting. He would meet religious leaders. Both parleys are to discuss the attacks dubbed as among the five deadliest terrorist attacks carried out since the 9/11 in the US.


Drones, aircraft banned
Sri Lanka has banned the use of drones and unmanned aircraft following the massive Easter Sunday bombings that killed over 350 people and injured more than 500 in the country’s worst terror attack.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said that the ban will be in effect until further notice. The use of drones and unmanned aircraft has been temporarily banned within the Sri Lankan airspace, Colombo Gazette reported.


JeM targets Yogi, Kejri
In two separate letters, allegedly by Pakistan-based terrorist outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), threats have been issued to target Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, according to the Uttar Pradesh police.
The letters, received at UP’s Shamli and Uttarakhand’s Roorkee railway stations, also threatens to carry out blasts at important religious places and hit several railway stations in western Uttar Pradesh, said the police.


NT Bureau