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April 30, 2019

India's bid to link Pakistan with deadly Sri Lanka bombings

By Abdus-Sattar Ghazali

India is apparently trying to implicate Pakistan in Sri Lankan Easter bombings amid reports that Mohammad Zahran Hashim, the suspected mastermind of the Easter bombings, spent a "substantial amount of time in south India."

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India is apparently trying to implicate Pakistan in Sri Lankan Easter bombings amid reports that Mohammad Zahran Hashim, the suspected mastermind of the Easter bombings, spent a "substantial amount of time in south India."

"We are looking into the IS angle. We also suspect that some of those radical youth (suspected bombers) were indoctrinated and trained in India, possibly Tamil Nadu," the Hindu quoted an unnamed senior military official as saying.

While Indian officials did not state that Hashim had travelled to India, they did point out that he had maintained virtual links with youth believed to be of Indian origin, said The Hindu.

Hashim's ties with south India were also confirmed by Hilmy Ahamed, vice-president of the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka. "Hashim had shifted base to southern India," he told AFP.

Apparently to counter Indian connection to the deadly Sri Lanka bombings, Hindustan Times said Indian intelligence officials have also pointed out that Pakistan-based group Lashkar-e-Taiba's (LeT) charity, Idara Khidmat e Khalq, has been radicalizing Sri Lankan Muslim youth since the tsunami of 2004.

After this claim, the Hindustan Times posed this question: Was Pakistan involved in the attacks?

"India's National Investigation Agency NIA last year charged a Colombo-based Pakistan diplomat of plotting to attack the US and Israeli consulates in India and sent multiple warnings to Colombo ahead of this week's terror attack, based upon intelligence and the interrogation of men connected with the same plot," the Hindustan Times said.

Easter Sunday's suicide attacks on churches and hotels in Colombo killed 253 people, including at least 45 children, and injured hundreds.

On April 22, two days after the deadly bombings, the so-called "Islamic State" claimed responsibility for the attacks and subsequently released an image of eight suspected bombers.

Its statement came after a senior Sri Lankan government official said the suicide bombings were "in retaliation" for mass shootings at two mosques in New Zealand last month.

Neither the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, nor the Sri Lankan government offered any evidence.

The ISIS image purportedly showed the leader of the attackers standing amid seven others whose faces are covered.

The identities of those in the image could not be independently verified, but CNN reported the man whose face can be seen is National Thowfeek Jamaath leader Zahran Hashim, also known as Mohammed Zahran.

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said investigators were determining the extent of the bombers' foreign ties.

"This could not have been done just locally," Wickremesinghe said. "There had been training given and a coordination which we are not seeing earlier.''

On April 23, Defense Minister Wijewardene told the country's parliament the Easter bombings were "in retaliation for the attack against Muslims in Christchurch."

Fifty Muslim worshippers were killed and dozens wounded in the attack on two Mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15 during Friday prayers. Brenton Tarrant, 28, a self-described white supremacist from Australia, was charged in the shootings.

Regarding retaliation, the office of New Zealand's prime minister was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that it hadn't "seen any intelligence upon which such an assessment might be based."

Sri Lankan authorities, who have so far not named any of the nine suicide bombers or suspects officially, however, on Friday confirmed Hashim was one of the two suicide bombers who carried out the explosions at hotel Shangri-La, on Colombo's sea-facing Galle Road. He led the Islamist group in Kattankudy, in Batticaloa district of Sri Lanka's Eastern Province.

As Sri Lanka continues hunt for the bombing perpetrators, President Sirisena has given the military wartime powers to arrest suspects. The military has not had such sweeping power since the country's 26-year civil war, which ended in 2009.



Submitters Bio:
Author and journalist.
Author of
Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality;
Islam in the Post-Cold War Era;
Islam & Modernism;
Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America.
Currently working as free lance journalist.
Executive Editor of American Muslim Perspective: www.amperspective.com

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