ECONOMYNEXT – The Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) of Sri Lanka police took into its custody on June 10 two suspects arrested for links with Zaharan Hashim, the ringleader of the suicide bombers who carried out the 2019 Easter Sunday attack.
Police media spokesman Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Ajith Rohana said one of the suspects, a 47-year-old former assistant postmaster in Kahatagasdigiliya in the Anuradhapura district, had provided shelter to Hashim and four other members of the Islamist terrorist group in 2018.
Rohana said the suspect had aided and abetted the extremist activities of Hashim’s outfit.
The other suspect, a 35-year-old Maulavi (Islamic preacher) named Taufiq from Kattankudy in the Batticaloa district, is considered to be one of five who had allegedly maintained close relations with Hashim, Rohana said.
The police spokesman said Taufiq was already in prison after being arrested by Batticaloa police for allegedly propagating Hashim’s extremist ideology and maintaining links with him.
The suspect was transferred to TID custody upon making a request from the courts, Rohana said.
The Easter Sunday bombings that took on April 21, 2019, killed 267 people and injured at least 500 on April 21 2019. Hashim led the group of Islamists belonging to the Natoinal Thowheed Jammath (NTJ) that carried out the coordinated attack. The bombings have been blamed on the Islamic State (IS), but Sri Lanka’s opposition parties and others have contested the official account.
Main opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) MP Harin Fernando in a controversial statement made in parliament on April 20 claimed that the Islamic preacher was never brought before a presidential commission of inquiry that probed the Easter bombings. Recently retired Attorney General Dappula De Livera was quoted as telling the privately owned NewsFirst network on May 18 that there is clear evidence of a grand conspiracy linked to the bombings.
Police spokesman Rohana said of the five parties alleged to have maintained links with Hashim, three had already died as suicide bombers in the Easter Sunday attack while the other two including Taufiq are now in TID custody.
The two suspects will be detained and questioned under provisions in the Prevention of Terrorism Act, he added. (Colombo/June11/2021)