A two-member team of the National Investigation Agency reached Colombo on Tuesday to exchange information on suspects of last month’s Easter Sunday attacks that left 253 people dead in the island nation, said multiple reports. “The visit is not to assist Sri Lanka with their probe but to see if an exchange of information and evidence gathered by us and them can be mutually beneficial,” an unidentified NIA official told News18.
Sri Lankan investigators have blamed an Islamist organisation called the National Thowheed Jamath for the serial bomb blasts on April 21. The NIA team, led by inspector general Alok Mittal, will share details of suspects, reportedly from Tamil Nadu and Kerala, who allegedly have links with the National Towheed Jamaath. The Islamic State group had claimed responsibility for the terror attacks.
The Sri Lankan Police have arrested more than 1,000 people since the attacks took place. The Indian investigators will discuss with them details of people whose names, phone numbers, social media accounts or other details might have cropped up during the interrogation of suspects. Sri Lankan police officials say that all those responsible for the blasts have either been killed or arrested.
The team will also seek details of Maulvi Zahran bin Hashim’s travels to India. Hashim is said to have masterminded the attacks. His visit was approved by the Ministry of Home Affairs after Sri Lanka gave nod for the trip.
“It’s Sri Lanka’s investigation,” an unidentified NIA official told Hindustan Times. “We have sent a team there to assess the influence of ISIS, NTJ’s links to India and details of travel of mastermind Maulvi Zahran bin Hashim. It has come to our notice that Hashim had visited India [Tamil Nadu and Kerala] a couple of times to motivate Indians to take part in establishing Islamic rule in the region.”
On April 29, the NIA arrested a 29-year-old man with alleged links to the Islamic State group for reportedly planning to carry out a suicide attack in Kerala. The man, identified as Riyas A, is a resident of Palakkad. The agency said that during interrogation Riyas claimed he had followed the speeches and videos of Hashim and religious preacher Zakir Naik.
The NIA also identified six suspects – Mohammed Ashiq A, Ismail S, Samsudeen, Mohammed Salauddin S, Jafar Shadik Ali and Shahul Hameed – who were either in touch with Hashim or got radicalised listening to his speeches.