Sri Lankan blasts: Mastermind identified
Mohamed Hashim Mohamed Zahran has been identified as the suspected ringleader of the group which had carried out the deadly Easter blasts killing around 250 people in churches and luxury hotels. The attack was seen as one of the deadliest terror attacks in South Asia. It is learned that there were in all nine suicide bombers who had blown themselves to kill men, women and children as they started their morning to pray or to have breakfast.
Sri Lankan officials have stated that most of the attackers were highly educated and had come from well-off families. Some had also gone abroad for higher education. However, the description of Zahran did not fit the above credentials as he was different.
The government of Sri Lanka has been widely criticised for not paying attention to the warnings shared by Indian Intelligence Services. There were at least three intelligence inputs shared in April itself about an imminent attack. The top official of the National Defence Ministry accepted that some institutions under him had failed to prevent the attack.
It is being said that Zahran’s road from a troublemaker to an alleged terrorist was apparent, yet it was being ignored by his friends and family. For the majority of his adult life, he was always mired in controversies even in the Muslim community itself. So, in the age of the internet, the problem broke all borders and Zahran had released many online videos in which he gave calls for jihad and threatened bloodshed.
Islamic State had claimed responsibility for the attack and had put up a video of Zahran in which he was holding an assault rifle and was standing in front of the black flag of the group and pledging allegiance to the leader. There have been no precise links drawn between the group and Zahran so far. It has been reported by an Indian official to the Reuters that while they were conducting a raid on a suspected cell of Islamic State in the state of Tamil Nadu just across a thin ocean strait from Sri Lanka, the officials had found copies of videos posted by Zahran.