Exclusive: Sri Lankan software engineer, under Indian surveillance, key in Easter attack


COLOMBO/AHMEDABAD,India (Reuters) – A Sri Lankan software engineer suspected by authorities in Sri Lanka of getting supplied technical and logistical help to the Easter Sunday suicide bombers was monitored by Indian intelligence businesses three years in the past for hyperlinks with Islamic State suspects, investigators stated.

FILE PHOTO: A police officer inspects the explosion space at Shangri-La resort in Colombo, Sri Lanka April 21, 2019. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte/File Photo

Four sources in Sri Lankan investigating businesses stated they believed Aadhil Ameez, a 24-year-old, was the hyperlink between two teams that carried out the assaults on church buildings and inns that killed greater than 250 individuals and wounded a whole bunch extra.

Aadhil has been arrested and is in police custody, the sources stated. His arrest has not been made public, however when requested by Reuters, Ruwan Gunasekera, the principle spokesman for the Sri Lankan police, confirmed Aadhil was taken into custody on April 25, 4 days after the assaults.

The spokesman declined to provide extra particulars.

A police official at India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) and one other police official in the western state of Gujarat stated they had been offering help to Sri Lankan authorities.

Aadhil, who describes himself on his LinkedIn profile as a senior engineer/programmer/net designer with a masters diploma in pc science and a bachelors in political science from U.Ok. universities, couldn’t be reached for remark.

He doesn’t but have a lawyer and under Sri Lanka’s robust new emergency legal guidelines imposed after the assaults, he could be held indefinitely.

His father, M. Ameez, who lives in Aluthgama, a city south of Colombo, denied that Aadhil was concerned with the plotters and stated such “allegations are lies”.

The Indian investigators stated they’d been monitoring Aadhil since 2016 and named him in two chargesheets filed in Indian courts towards suspected Islamic State operatives as being one in every of their contacts.

According to one of many chargesheets, reviewed by Reuters, he confirmed up in Facebook, WhatsApp and Telegram chats with two of the suspects who’re on trial for plotting an attack on a synagogue in the western metropolis of Ahmedabad.

The two suspects Ubed Ahmad Mirza, a lawyer, and Stimberwala Mohamed Kasim, a hospital technician, had been accused of planning “lone-wolf” assaults, based on the chargesheet.

Lawyers for each males rejected the allegations and stated they had been harmless. Both legal professionals declined to touch upon the doable position of Aadhil.

Aadhil has additionally been named in one other chargesheet filed in court docket by the NIA for offering propaganda and on-line materials to three Indians arrested in early 2016 for selling Islamic State.

The three males, Sheikh Azhar ul-Islam, Adnan Hassan and Mohammed Rafiq Sadique Shaikh are on trial in a particular Delhi court docket going through costs of felony conspiracy to propagate the ideology of Islamic State, recruit, increase funds and facilitate the journey of individuals to Syria, based on the chargesheet.

Sheikh Mohammad Munawar, a cousin of ul-Islam, stated the costs had been fabricated and that he had no felony file ever.

Families of the opposite two accused couldn’t be reached. Their legal professionals weren’t instantly accessible for remark.

Reuters was unable to find out when the Indians knowledgeable Sri Lankan authorities of the surveillance. The two officers declined to say whether or not they continued to maintain Aadhil under surveillance after they accomplished investigation of the circumstances in India.

Indian intelligence providers warned Sri Lankan authorities of a doable attack at the least 3 times in April alone, officers have stated.

LINK BETWEEN GROUPS

Sri Lankan authorities have stated two native Islamist teams – the National Tawheed Jamaath (NTJ) led by radical preacher Zahran Hashim and the Jamathei Millathu Ibrahim (JMI) – had been concerned in the synchronized blasts in Colombo, the island nation’s capital, and two different cities. Islamic State has claimed duty for the assaults.

Two sources in Sri Lanka’s police Criminal Investigation Department and two navy officers stated Aadhil was the hyperlink between the 2 teams.

The teams used the darkish net and WhatsApp to speak, they stated.

However, investigators don’t know but whether or not Aadhil was merely a facilitator for the bombers, or if he was additionally one of many ring leaders concerned in planning and executing the assaults.

Last week, police raided IT agency Virtusa, the place Aadhil had interned in 2013, based on his profile. One present worker has been detained for questioning in reference to the assaults, police say, however no different particulars have been supplied.

GRAPHIC: A community of extremism expands – tmsnrt.rs/2VZBXX4

ONLINE CHATS

India, with one of many world’s largest populations of Muslims, has claimed success in foiling a number of Islamic State cells, principally in southern and western India.

Court paperwork reviewed by Reuters present that the web conversations between the Sri Lankan and the 2 Indians in western India, started in the summer season of 2016 and lasted till the arrest of the 2 Indians in late 2017. The paperwork describe how Aadhil Ax, as he known as himself on-line, requested the Indians if they’d heard concerning the atrocities being dedicated towards Muslims in Sri Lanka by the bulk Buddhist neighborhood.

He talked about his personal experiences: that he had been in jail, that his home had been torched and that he limped due to beatings, the paperwork seen by Reuters present. Investigators and neighbors in Sri Lanka say none of those had been true.

The Sri Lankan investigators interviewed by Reuters say Aadhil made claims he was a journalist and a PhD candidate in a few of his on-line postings, which additionally had been false.

They stated they believed Aadhil, working largely from his dwelling, was a key a part of the Easter bombings plot and helped in communications and coaching.

“He was the main technology person for them,” stated one of many CID sources concerned in the investigation. The supply stated Aadhil was helped in this by Abdul Latheef Mohamed Jameel, one of many eight suicide bombers who detonated his explosives at a guesthouse after failing to take action at Colombo’s luxurious Taj Samudra resort.

About per week earlier than the bombings, Aadhil met Jameel, Zahran the extremist preacher, and Inshaf Ibrahim and Ilham Ibrahim, the 2 brothers from a household engaged in the spice commerce in Colombo, the opposite sources stated. The latter three males blew themselves up in five-star Colombo inns.

Slideshow (three Images)

The CID supply stated that Aadhil, Zahran and the Ibrahim brothers had leased land in Wanathawilluwa city in the north and arrange a coaching camp. Police raided the place in January this yr and found a considerable amount of explosives, however didn’t know on the time who had leased it.

When police raided Aadhil’s dwelling 4 days after the bombings, all his pc information had been discovered to have been deleted.

“He seems to have played an important role in setting up communications for the attackers, helping organize meetings and training camps,” stated one of many navy sources.

Additional reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi in COLOMBO and Fayaz Bukhari in SRINAGAR; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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