[Sri Lanka Guardian Illustration]

Shadowy Veil of Fanaticism: Postscript to Easter Bombings Debate in Parliament

In the aftermath of the catastrophic Easter Sunday bombings in 2019, orchestrated by fanatics fueled by the venomous ideology of Islamic State, a sinister shroud of conspiracy theories and concealed realities has ominously eclipsed the tragic events. A two-day parliamentary debate has blurred the very boundaries that separate stark fact from insidious fiction, ensnaring the noble quest for justice in the treacherous web of political agendas. However, Minister of Public Security, the State Minister of Defence, and a handful of legislators tried their best to pierce through the heart of this carnage and underscored the imperative nature of implementing adequate social measures to prevent its grim reoccurrence.

13 mins read
13 mins read

by Special Correspondent

The shocking reality concealed beneath the surface of the Easter Sunday 2019 attacks, which claimed the lives of nearly 270 innocent people in churches and hotels, has been obscured by shadowy conspiracy theories, callously disregarding the anguish of the victims. It is paramount to place the victims’ needs at the forefront, while vigorously pursuing imperative legislative actions to quell the menace of radicalization.

The culmination of a two-day parliamentary debate last Friday has forced society to confront the tragedy that has been ruthlessly politicized by a myriad of stakeholders, ranging from certain segments of the Church to various political factions. Regrettably, much of the information circulating about this heinous crime rests on mere assumptions, with international bodies like the United Nations Human Rights Commission indirectly endorsing it without demanding accountability or exercising undue influence over Sri Lanka.

It is unfortunate that the responsibility to delve into the societal damage inflicted by this virulent phenomenon of religious fanaticism and the grave future perils it poses does not lie solely on our shoulders. Our evaluations must remain impartial, as we cannot forsake the essential preventative measures.

Current investigations have identified Mohamed Naufar alias Naufar Maulavi as the mastermind behind the Easter attacks, revealing his sinister intent to perpetrate a series of assaults beyond the initial incident, potentially leading to widespread carnage. A significant number of individuals were drawn into his sinister plot. It has come to light that through discussions and training sessions held across the island, Zahran and others were groomed to differentiate between those willing to die as martyrs and those prepared to fight on the battleground, their minds honed for violence. However, Zahran, more driven by personal infamy than Naufar’s designs, sought to etch his name in history as the first emir to commit suicide in this manner, hence the rushed nature of the attack.

This chart illustrates the evolution of IS ideology and Sri Lankan involvement in Syria, as well as foreign influence in Sri Lanka. It also highlights individuals deeply connected to the 2019 Easter bombings. This chart was presented by the Criminal Investigation Division during a presentation held for Parliamentarians to elucidate the underlying structure of the tragic events.

Who Decided that Naufer Should Not Appear in Commissions of Inquiry?

In response to the claims made by opposition leader Sajith Premadasa, Minister Alles rightfully questioned why Naufar Mawulavi had not been called to testify before any of the commissions appointed by the Parliament and the President. This raises doubts about the thoroughness of the investigators’ work. During a particularly quiet moment in Parliament, Minister Alles asked, ‘Are you suggesting that we should request the same investigators to conduct the investigation once again?’ amidst the usual noise that fills the chamber.

The claims of Mohammad Hanseer Milhar, also known as Azad Maulana, who purportedly possesses insider knowledge about this tragedy but has failed to substantiate his assertions with credible evidence, warrant international scrutiny and accountability in line with established standards. His alleged employment by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in January 2022 not only obligates these agencies to investigate allegations of financial malfeasance and sexual misconduct against him but also mandates that they champion a transparent inquiry. Human rights are an inalienable entitlement for all, yet the core principles of these rights should not be subordinated to personal or political agendas. Unfortunately, in the realm of tackling pressing social issues within nations like Sri Lanka, it is disheartening to witness numerous international organizations and their local counterparts as well as external affiliations prioritizing their personal ideologies and political allegiances over concrete empirical evidence. This lamentable stance only serves to intensify the deep-rooted divides and inequalities that plague society.

It is of utmost importance to recognize that genuine and impactful social reform can only be realized when we rise above these partisan inclinations. The path to meaningful change demands an unwavering commitment to evidence-based solutions, a dedication to impartiality, and an unyielding resolve to bridge the gaps that divide us. It is high time that we set aside personal biases and political affiliations in the pursuit of a better future for all, grounded firmly in the bedrock of verifiable data and a shared commitment to progress.

In the parliamentary debate, Tiran Alles, the Public Security Minister, who delivered the closing speech, and Pramitha Bandara, the State Defence Minister, addressed the profound implications of this tragedy. They commended the traditional Muslim community for their historical efforts in combating extremism, setting a commendable example. It’s worth noting that after a non-governmental organization purchased airtime on the radio, the Muslim community promptly alerted the then Minister of Media to the dangers of extremist messaging and took proactive steps to curtail its spread. It’s imperative that we categorically reject all forms of violent extremism, be it rooted in religion or secularism. To achieve this, it’s not just institutional policies that must evolve, but also the collective mindset of humanity.

Narratives from bombers

This is why it is imperative that we rigorously investigate the verified information pertaining to the individuals responsible for the Easter attacks. We cannot afford to rely solely on expert opinions. Instead, we must delve deep into the narratives revealed through their digital footprints, the devices they employed, and the messages exchanged with their family members. These revelations not only serve to debunk any lingering conspiracies but also allow us to fathom the profound extent of their fanatical mindset.

Firstly, there are ten key reasons that influenced Zahran Hasim to perpetrate this attack. These reasons were outlined in a video recorded on April 20, 2019, at an apartment in a Span Tower, in Colombo Suburb.

  • The desecration of Allah, the revered ruler of the world, by those who do not believe in Him.
  • A protest took place in the town of Kuliyapitiya where the word ‘Allah’ was written alongside an image of a pig, an unsanctioned and unclean animal.
  • The blasphemy of Allah, suggesting He possesses secret parts of His body, a mockery of our God.
  • Disparaging comments about the Prophet Muhammad, who is more precious to us than our own lives.
  • The burning and tearing of our holy book, the Al-Quran, a sacred text held in higher regard than life itself.
  • Attacks on the places of worship dedicated solely to Allah.
  • False accusations, violence against Muslims, economic devastation, and land confiscation.
  • Disrespectful treatment of our sisters by intelligence agencies under the guise of investigation.
  • Collaboration between the Sri Lankan government and the international community in countering Islamic militants in West Africa.
  • The alarming worship of entities equating Allah with other gods.

Additionally, according to Zahran, there were two specific factors contributed to this attack in Sri Lanka:

  • Catholic churches in Sri Lanka were targeted in response to the Christchurch attack in New Zealand, where a Catholic gunman killed Muslims.
  • Western nations have bombed Islamic communities in the Middle East, including Syria, causing harm to our Muslim brethren, which led to attacks on tourist hotels in Sri Lanka, where Westerners frequented.

Meanwhile, Ilham Mohammed, one of the individuals responsible for planting the bomb at the Shangri-La Hotel, left behind a recorded message before the tragic event:

“In hearing this recording, I will have departed to meet my Creator. I want it to be known that this act should not be seen as a suicide but as an act of charity in the name of God. I emphasize this because it is an action carried out solely in service to God. I willingly gave my life, my wealth, and my possessions for the path of God. I prayed diligently every day, and in a dream, God revealed to me that my previous efforts fell short of His expectations. Out of His boundless love, He guided me onto this righteous path. Through my death, I hope to find forgiveness for many of my sins. Sharia longs to come to this land.

To my beloved parents, I humbly ask for your forgiveness. I never intended to cause you any distress. I understand that my actions may bring pain to our family. My dear brothers and sisters will also undoubtedly be troubled, as will my cherished mother and father. Please do not blame yourselves for my choices. I embarked on this path because I believed it to be God’s chosen path. Although it will undoubtedly bring hardship to our family, remember that some actions, despite the challenges they pose, are undertaken for the sake of God. Even when we hold differing views on certain matters, the right decisions can be guided by God in the next life.”

Furthermore, investigators uncovered a message from Insaf Ahmed, one of Ilham Mohammed’s brothers, who tragically took his own life at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel. In his message to his family, he expressed,

“So, if I do not commit to Jihad and falter, then I consider myself fortunate that I was drawn towards the Deen of Allah. Somehow, Allah guided me onto the path of Jihad, and I dedicated the last year and a half to this cause. The time has come for me to temporarily step back. If circumstances were different, surely… I possess knowledge, and Allah has imparted wisdom to me. Allah has illuminated the path. To turn away from this calling would be akin to falling back, and the consequences would be severe. I possess this knowledge because I have learned and understood. Those who possess such knowledge are held to a different standard. The times that lie ahead will be challenging, not only for my family but for the entire Muslim community in Sri Lanka.”

Meanwhile, it is crucial to note the final message of Abdul Latif Jameel Mohamed to his wife, whose name been consistently a central point in discussing the conspiracy behind the Easter attack. On April 21, 2019, around 03:00 in the morning, Jameel sent a voice message to his wife’s WhatsApp, saying, “Shifana, I’m sorry I lied about Hijra. I am either going to meet Allah soon or might come back. You can show this to the police if you wish.” She opened this message at approximately 8:30 in the morning. Since then, she has made several attempts to reach him at the Taj Samudra hotel but has been unsuccessful in connecting with him. However, CCTV camera footage shows that he appeared disturbed, with his mobile screen lit up, suggesting he had received some messages. This presumably prompted him to hastily leave the hotel. Consequently, she left numerous voice messages on Jameel’s phone, raising speculation that the messages he received that morning may indeed be from her.

International Investigation on Easter Bombs

It is evident from these facts that the statements made by the bombers and the opinions expressed by individuals with varying perspectives on this attack are in stark contradiction to one another. Furthermore, little attention has been paid to the international-level investigations conducted by numerous reputed investigative agencies including FBI, AFP, and INTERPOL who have shared their viewpoints and scientific conclusions on this catastrophe. These investigations were conducted with the cooperation of all responsible parties, and during the process, all individuals identified as being involved in the attack were thoroughly interrogated. The conclusion drawn from these investigations is that the attack was executed by a group motivated by the ideology of Islamic State terrorists. This conclusion is based on scientific data rather than mere speculation. As a result, it has convinced state officials in the United States of America, where five of its citizens lost their lives, to convey in writing to Sri Lankan authorities that there is no make sense to reinitiate such an investigation. However, it is disheartening that the facts confirmed by these investigations have been distorted for various political purposes.

The Minister of Public Security underscored a crucial point regarding the retirement and transfer of Ravi Seneviratne and Shani Abeysekara, the main investigators of the Easter attack, within a mere three days. Specifically, Shani Abeysekera’s transfer was carried out for disciplinary reasons. Additionally, Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police Ravi Seneviratne is set to retire after completing 60 years of service, with a service extension of 6 months.

Furthermore, although it has been stated that 175 officers who were involved in this investigation were transferred, the reality is that these transfers were made for administrative reasons and only affected four officers. It was also noted that more than 700 officers from the Criminal Investigation Division were temporarily prohibited from traveling abroad. This decision was a result of Police Inspector Nishantha Silva, who was on duty, fleeing the country without informing anyone. This action had adverse effects on many ongoing investigations, leading to the implementation of necessary measures to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future.

Dappula’s Duplicity

In the eve of his retirement, the former Attorney General, Dappula Livera, was presented with a striking revelation: the Easter attack might not be a mere incident, but rather a meticulously orchestrated grand conspiracy. However, in the face of relentless demands for accountability and transparency, Livera has chosen to elude his responsibility. His obstinate silence speaks volumes. As a result, legal action has been set in motion through an appellant who is resolute in pursuing the truth. Yet, Livera remains conspicuously absent from the public arena, failing to furnish the compelling evidence required to substantiate his explosive claims.

Regrettably, during the two-day debate, there was a noticeable absence of discussion about the collective responsibility of parliamentarians and society as a whole in combating the scourge of violent extremism. This oversight suggests that many individuals may lack a comprehensive understanding of this critical social phenomenon. Moreover, the essential changes required in our education system and other responsible institutions in the country seemed to have been forgotten amid the accusations and blame-shifting that characterized the proceedings. It is disheartening that so many people refrained from discussing how our nation can collectively address this profound social challenge. It is important to emphasize that seeking justice for the victims of the attack should not be a politically divisive matter. To achieve this, we must strive to dispel ignorance and fulfill our responsibilities based on the data and findings confirmed by the investigations.

It has been unequivocally established that Sonic-Sonic is not to be identified as Inspector Bandara, the former direct superior of Sonic-Sonic. Instead, he emerges as a covert intelligence operative, a vital cog in the intricate machinery of the State Intelligence Service, masterminding a brilliant clandestine operation.

This revelation came to light roughly five months after the catastrophic attack, painstakingly unveiled through a meticulously compiled report that was subsequently submitted to the court. Regrettably, conspiracy theorists have sought to mislead the public by propagating a distorted narrative.  

According to the findings, this seasoned officer dedicated a full four months to amassing vital intelligence, a critical pursuit initiated after receiving verified information from the Middle-East Station of a Foreign Intelligence Agency. This intelligence was instrumental in dismantling the network associated with Podi Zahran.

The magnitude of this operation cannot be overstated, as its primary objective was the tracking down of individuals still tied to the tragic Easter bombings.   Furthermore, it is imperative to underscore that despite the Islamic State (IS) refraining from claiming responsibility for the attack, no official representative of the State Intelligence Service ever suggested IS involvement. There was no undue pressure or coercion imposed upon this officer to manufacture such a claim. It is incumbent upon all of us to exercise restraint in passing judgment regarding the exceptional public service contributions made by this officer, who continues to serve tirelessly.

Let us collectively endeavor to shield his personal life from unwarranted intrusion, for individuals of his caliber are indeed a rare breed.

The confirmation of (Pulasthini Mahendran) Sara Jasmine’s death was established through DNA tests, which were conducted as part of the inquests. These tests compared DNA samples from Sara Jasmine’s mother with those of Sara Jasmine herself. Notably, Sara Jasmine’s DNA was collected on three separate occasions, a fact that has raised questions among many. However, understanding the precise sequence of events can be challenging for some.  

During the post-mortem examination on May 2, 2019, of the vehicle where the explosion occurred, the following findings were made: six adult bodies that could be identified as deceased, parts of four adult corpses that had been severely damaged, and 26 blood samples taken from six children who had also been affected by the blast. Regrettably, the remaining remnants were not subjected to sampling.   Of the blood samples forwarded to the inspector’s office for analysis, 11 samples were found to be spoiled.

Consequently, only the body parts associated with the spoiled samples were taken and tested on June 7, 2019. Subsequently, only 11 of the spoiled samples were successfully recovered.   As a result, it became imperative to conduct DNA tests correctly for the third time. Therefore, on April 27, 2022, a total of 83 samples, encompassing all the corpses and remains at the explosion site, were collected for DNA testing. This comprehensive effort included comparing the DNA samples of Sara Jasmine’s mother with those of Sarah Jasmine herself. The entire process was carried out transparently in the presence of officials such as the Magistrate, Forensic Doctor, Taste Inspector, and representatives from other relevant institutions, all done under the Magistrate’s orders.  

The necessity for conducting DNA tests a third time arose due to the failure of the investigation officers and other responsible parties to obtain blood samples covering all body parts in the initial tests. Consequently, the first and second tests were not conducted properly, leading to the need for a more comprehensive and accurate examination on the third attempt.
Abu Hind is a codename used by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) which is India’s internal security and counter-intelligence agency to refer to an operative using an undercover persona, commonly known as an ‘Avatar,’ for the purpose of collecting information. The technical director overseeing the intelligence department where this operative technique was employed held a higher rank than the individual in charge of the avatar operation. Therefore, Abu Hind is not a fictional entity; rather, it is a legitimate tactic employed by intelligence agencies worldwide to infiltrate enemy ranks and gather crucial intelligence.   Following the arrest of Zahran’s wife, Hadiya, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) recorded over 20 statements. However, no person by the name of Abu Hind was convicted. It was claimed that Zahran Hashim had communicated with an individual referred to as Hindi India, but at no point in her statements did Hadiya mention an instruction to expedite any operation. Nonetheless, Hadiya later testified before the commission investigating the Easter attack and provided evidence concerning Abu Hind and the acceleration of operations. It is essential to highlight Hadiya’s subsequent responses during the Presidential Commission of Inquiry:  

Question: Are Abu Hind, who had a connection with Zahran, and Abu Hind, who had a connection with Naufar Maulavi, the same individual?
Answer: Yes, they are the same person.
Q: Why did Abu Hind request the video of the blasts?
A: He was instructed to obtain it because he intended to forward it to the leader in Syria, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Q: Did Sheini comply with this directive?
A: Sheini edited the video and sent it to Rilwan, who subsequently forwarded it to Abu Hind.  

Henceforth, one can unequivocally deduce that the video, starring Zahran and his fellow suicide bombers, was deliberately propagated by Abu Hind through meticulously linked Telegram channels, meticulously designed for the discreet exchange of critical intelligence. This calculated dissemination was a strategic maneuver, crafted with the utmost precision, intended to foster unwavering trust and seamless communication amongst the remaining stakeholders following the devastating attack. Originally, this haunting video was meticulously shared within the clandestine recesses of smaller Telegram channels, surreptitiously concealed from the world’s gaze. However, it was not long before vigilant intelligence agencies apprehended this chilling footage, uncovering the sinister plot that lay within. Ultimately, it was Fazrul Rahman Mohamad Zahran, commonly known as the enigmatic ‘Podi Zahran,’ who unveiled this sinister tapestry of terror to the relentless glare of the media spotlight.  

Source: Ceylon Today

Sri Lanka Guardian

The Sri Lanka Guardian is an online web portal founded in August 2007 by a group of concerned Sri Lankan citizens including journalists, activists, academics and retired civil servants. We are independent and non-profit. Email: editor@slguardian.org

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Latest from Blog