by Special Correspondent
Born on December 18, 1982, the name Abdul Latif Jameel Mohamed echoes with a story that transcends the boundaries of a typical life journey. Hailing from an upper-middle-class family, his early education unfolded in the prestigious corridors of a Kandy school. Little did anyone know that this unassuming individual would be ensnared by a sinister ideology that would change the course of his life forever.
In the pursuit of a better life, Jameel ventured to Australia for work. It was there, in the land down under, that the seeds of radicalization began to take root. By the time he returned to Sri Lanka in 2013, he had undergone a transformation that was nothing short of alarming. In a matter of weeks, he managed to assemble a group of like-minded individuals who shared his dark allegiance to the Islamic State terrorist organization. Together, they birthed the ominous social organization known as the “Pearl of Wisdom.”
The year 2012 marked a pivotal moment in his journey. After a failed attempt to reach Syria via Turkey, Jameel hastily returned to his homeland. Upon his return, he rallied the members of his fledgling organization, and thus, the Jamaate Millate Ibrahim organization was born. Their mission: to disseminate the activities of the Islamic State terrorist organization and recruit fresh personnel.
The first inkling of Jameel’s extremism came to light on July 20, 2015, when an intelligence report was forwarded to the Criminal Investigation Department. Subsequently, on four separate occasions, the State Intelligence Service submitted intelligence reports, urging an investigation into this ominous figure. Jameel’s own brother, Hakeem, confirmed that military intelligence agencies had been closely monitoring Jameel since 2015. Hakeem, driven by familial concern, repeatedly implored his brother to abandon the path of extremism.
As investigations continued, Jameel found himself summoned to the Terrorism Investigation Division on April 12, 2018. Astonishingly, he was released after providing a mere statement. However, Jameel’s sinister intentions were far from extinguished. On the brink of catastrophe, he ventured to the Taj Samudra Hotel with the intent to detonate a bomb. When this plan failed, he sought a different target, in Dehiwala, where he ultimately carried out his nefarious act.
To gain a deeper understanding of this chilling narrative, one must consider the testimony of Jameel’s wife, Fatima Shifana. Following the tragic bombing, she cooperated with the Terrorist Investigation Division to shed light on the grim reality of her husband’s actions.
On April 19, 2019, at 10 PM, Jameel left home with the promise of returning on Monday, leaving his mobile phone turned off, shrouding his intentions in mystery.
But on April 21, 2019, around 3:00 AM in the morning, Jameel sent a chilling voice message to his wife’s phone number (077XXXXX77) through the WhatsApp app, in which he mentioned the following: “Shifana, I’m sorry I lied about Hijra. I’m going to meet Allah soon or might come. You can show this to the police if you want.” She listened to the voice message around 8:30 AM.
The sunlit morning at 9:00 AM brought a frantic call to Jameel’s brother, Hakeem. She forwarded the voice message, tears in her eyes. Desperation surged as they contemplated its meaning, especially in the absence of Jameel’s passport. The specter of Syria loomed.
Subsequently, around ten in the morning, Hakeem, Jameel’s brother, reached out to a retired Senior Superintendent of Police with whom he shared a longstanding acquaintance. In response, the seasoned police officer advised Hakeem to instruct Jameel’s wife to swiftly visit the Wellampitiya police station and formally lodge a complaint.
However, Hakeem, mindful of the potential reluctance on his sister-in-law’s part, hesitated and sought guidance from the police officer on another pressing matter. He questioned whether it would be advisable to inform the TID (Terrorist Investigation Division) about their persistent surveillance of Jameel, dating back to 2015. To this inquiry, the police officer responded with a somber truth: it was Sunday, a day of rest for the TID, and their offices lay dormant. Meanwhile, the media had already commenced broadcasting details of the tragic bomb blasts, intensifying the urgency of the situation.
Simultaneously, the retired Senior Superintendent’s information was dispatched to the Military Intelligence Division and the State Intelligence Service, between 10:00 AM and 10:30 AM. Intelligence agents converged on Jameel’s residence around 12:30 PM, their presence driven by facts, not conspiracy.
Meanwhile, Jameel’s wife placed another call to Hakeem, disclosing that Jameel had been in contact with her from a mosque in Wellawatte, where a man named Amir assumed responsibility. However, Jameel intentionally withheld the truth from Amir, leading him to believe that Jameel had sought sanctuary at the mosque due to a family dispute. This fabricated narrative was further reinforced as Jameel instructed his wife to convey the same explanation. In her efforts to shield Jameel, she spun the same tale to Amir.
In response, Hakeem swiftly relayed Jameel’s contact details, obtained from Shifana, to two police officers at the police headquarters. He had known them since 2016, as they were already actively pursuing information about Jameel and his activities. In the midst of it all, an explosion rocked Ilham’s house, right in front of Hakeem’s. Hakeem was promptly taken to Dematagoda Police, while police officers feverishly sought Jameel’s trail.
But Jameel had already embarked on his deadly path. From a nearby church to the Dehiwala Tropical Resort, in a tricycle, he detonated a bomb at approximately 1:30 PM, sealing his own fate and taking two innocent lives with him. The sinister saga continued to unfold.
Numerous parties, driven by vested interests, have propagated misleading narratives surrounding Jameel. Yet, in light of the information presented above, it unmistakably emerges that Jameel had been under the watchful eye of intelligence agencies since as early as 2015. Equally striking is the fact that his own family members harboured profound anxieties regarding his extremist leanings. What compounds this tragedy is the disheartening reality that investigating agencies summoned him, only to release him without unearthing the depths of the impending catastrophe or his deep-rooted fanatical mindset.