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Source: ISIS suspect warned of bombings in Sri Lanka



Delhi provided unusually specific information in the weeks and days leading up to the attacks, the Sri Lankan authorities said, and at least part of the information came from material obtained during an interrogation of an Indian ISIS suspect, an Indian official was told CNN.

The suspect gave investigators the name of a man he trained in Sri Lanka, and who is linked to a local extremist group involved in the bombings. The man, Zahran Hashim, was identified in a video of the alleged attacker who was released Tuesday by ISIS, who took responsibility for the killings on Easter Sunday.

In a statement by news agency Amaq affiliated to ISIS, the group said the attackers were "fighters of the Islamic state".

Involvement of a foreign organization would explain how a formerly marginally domestic extremist group blamed for the attacks could have targeted National Tawheed Jamath (NTJ), one of the worst terrorist atrocities ever 9/1

1.

The number of victims could have been even higher. Authorities said on Tuesday that a fourth hotel was one of the original targets, but the attack on that location failed. Officials said they found an unexploded pipe bomb near Colombo International Airport.

Missed Warnings

When the investigators searched for the criminals to track down the bombers' allies, anger grew in Sri Lanka because the warnings of the Indian secret service were ignored.

The first warning came more than two weeks before the attacks. Officials in Sri Lanka were reported on 4 April by a possible attack on suicide attacks against Christian churches and tourist attractions, said government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne on Monday to reporters. The warnings were repeated two days and two hours before the attacks, Senaratne said.

The information from Delhi comes from the questioning of an ISIS suspect, the Indian source told CNN. "While we were investigating ISIS cases, while interrogating a defendant, he revealed the name of a man, Zahran Hashim, who is one of the suicide bombers and associated with NTJ," India's intelligence agency said. "The suspect said he played a role in his radicalization (Hashim)."

The Indian secret service did not reveal when the arrest took place. "Indian intelligence agencies shared their information with their colleagues in Sri Lanka," the source said.

The name of Hashim appears on a memorandum of 11 April signed by the Deputy Inspector General of Police in Sri Lanka. The memo from which CNN has seen a copy called Hashim as leader of the NTJ.

"A special foreign intelligence service has reported that the head of the National Tawheed Jamath – NTJ, Mohamed Cassim Mohamed Zahran, also known as Zahran Hashim and his followers – have planned suicide attacks in Sri Lanka," the memo said. It has been widely distributed to a number of security services and some government ministries.

On Tuesday, a video released by IS showed that eight men were allegedly the Sri Lankan invaders who pledged allegiance to the terrorist group. All men have their hands together and are masked except for a mask. This man, referred to as Zahran Hashim, "leads her", according to the caption provided by the Amaq News Agency.

A senior Sri Lankan official confirmed that the unmasked man in the photo was Hashim. "Zahran is the mastermind of these attacks, he's the one," said Azath Salley, governor of the Western Province of Sri Lanka. "He's the guy who teaches them the ideology, and when he talks to people, they get convinced," Salley said in an interview with CNN. 19659002 In a press conference on Tuesday, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe also identified Hashim as part of the plot. "He is expected to be one of the suicide bombers," he said.

In a conversation with CNN in Colombo, a former senior police official said that the NTJ has been known to the Sri Lankan authorities for at least two years.

He said the group had emerged in the eastern province of Sri Lanka and was linked to the destruction of Buddhist statues. He said there were signs that the group was growing in size and extremism, and estimated that there are currently about 100 to 150 members in the country. criminally negligent. "Specific warnings of the type received by Sri Lanka are" very rare ", so the failure to respond or disseminate it is even more inexplicable.

  A mass burial in St. Sebastian's Church in Negombo, Sri Lanka, where one of the attacks took place.

Investigation accelerates

Sri Lankan officials Lanka said they had arrested dozens of suspects in the past two days, but admitted that some were still at large, and at his press conference in Colombo, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe told reporters that "there are still people with explosives

Wickremesinghe said the investigators made "good progress" in the investigation, "but they have to identify all guilty parties and see what their network is." [19659002] He admitted that the attacks could have been prevented if the Enlightenment had been properly shared. "If it were known, we would certainly have been able to prevent many attacks in the churches and have more security in the hotels," Wickremesinghe said.

Sri Lanka has been hit by political turmoil since the President tried to remove the Prime Minister last year. The Supreme Court intervened and Wickremesinghe was reinstated, but deep divisions remained. The ministers accused the president, who is also the country's defense minister, of not having shared the secret services before the attacks.

Wickremesinghe said on Tuesday the differences between him and the president had been "eradicated" and the priority now was to catch remaining suspects.

President Maithripala Sirisena said he was unaware of the warnings and would have taken appropriate action if he had. "I have to mention explicitly that this information was not forwarded to me by the responsible persons," he said in a televised address. "If I had known that they had received this information, I could have acted accordingly."

Nine people appeared in court after being suspected of providing material for the Sunday bombs. The nine people were detained in Wellampitya, a northeastern suburb, detained in Colombo on Monday. They all worked in a copper factory in the area, according to a source from Colombo district court, which appeared in court on May 6. They are scheduled to return to court on 6 May.

James Griffiths reported from Colombo, Sri Lanka, Swati Gupta from New Delhi, India, Nikhil Kumar and the journalist Iqbal Athas (CNN) from Colombo, Steve George (CNN) from Hong Kong.


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