A top Sri Lankan military source has claimed that leader of the National Thowheed Jamaath, Zahran Hashim, is believed to be the mastermind behind the Sunday Easter attacks in Sri Lanka, who spent “substantial” time in “south India.”
According to The Hindu, Hashim was identified as the leader of the extremist NTJ by the investigators, who, they said, “had executed the highly coordinated blasts on Sunday.”
Following the deadly blasts, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks and subsequently released an image of eight suspected bombers. “The man seen standing at the centre [of the picture] is believed to be Hashim,” while the face of other men in the picture were covered with a scarf.
Sri Lankan investigation agencies have claimed to identify nine suicide bombers, including a woman. “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,” the Indian website wrote quoting a senior Sri Lankan official.
So far, Indian officials have not commented anything regarding Hashim travelling to India, however, “they pointed to evidence of virtual links he maintained with youth believed to be of Indian origin,” The Hindu reported.
Over “100 followers of Hashim’s Facebook page are also being probed, said an official, who asked not to be named.”
The media outlet cited that the first hints of Hashim’s doctrinal videos, to likely radicalise youth, emerged when Indian authorities interrogated seven members of a group whose leader, officials found, was a follower of Hashim.
‘Hashim, a Shangri-La bomber’
Sri Lankan authorities, who have so far not named any of the nine suicide bombers or suspects officially, on Friday confirmed that Hashim was one of the two suicide bombers who carried out the blast at hotel Shangri-La, on Colombo’s sea-facing Galle Road.
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