Sri Lanka names perpetrators of Easter Sunday massacre

Sri Lanka names perpetrators of Easter Sunday massacre
Sri Lankan police have named nine perpetrators of the Easter Sunday attacks, which killed 253 people. They include Zahran Hashim, leader of the National Thowheeth Jama'ath group.
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Zahran Hashim was named as a perpetrator of the Easter Sunday attacks. [Twitter]
Sri Lanka's police on Wednesday named nine people who staged Easter Sunday suicide bombings that killed 253 people, and said the attackers' assets will be confiscated in line with anti-terror laws.

Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera confirmed that two of the luxury hotels targeted were bombed by two brothers from a wealthy Colombo family involved in spice exports.

The group of Islamists had used one bomber at each of the locations hit on Easter Sunday, except at Shangri-La hotel where there were two suicide explosions.

One of the Shangri-La bombers was Zahran Hashim, the leader of the local jihadist group responsible for the deadly attacks that were claimed by the Islamic State group (ISIS).

Hashim headed the National Thowheeth Jama'ath (NTJ) which has since been banned. He came from the Muslim-majority town of Kattankundy in eastern Sri Lanka, where local people say he founded the NTJ after being expelled from a religious college for breaking rules and excluded from a mosque for lying.

He used the NTJ to criticize Muslims who didn't agree with his radical views. Since the Easter Sunday attacks, Muslims in Sri Lanka have been living in fear of Islamophobic reprisal attacks.

Hashim attacked the Shangri-La in the company of fellow extremist Ilham Ahmed Mohamed Ibrahim.

Ilham's elder brother Inshaf Ahmed was the man who bombed the nearby Cinnamon Grand hotel.

The third hotel to be targeted, the Kingsbury, was bombed by a man identified as Mohamed Azzam Mubarak Mohamed. His wife was now in police custody, Gunasekera said.

The St. Anthony's Church was targeted by a local resident named Ahmed Muaz. His brother has been arrested. The St. Sebastian bomber was Mohamed Hasthun, a resident from the island's east where Hashim was based.

The Christian Zion Church in the eastern city of Batticaloa was hit by a local resident, Mohamed Nasser Mohamed Asad.

Another man failed to set a bomb off at a de luxe hotel, but blasted his explosives at a guest house near the capital. He was identified as Abdul Latheef who had studied both in Britain and Australia.

Shortly after the hotel bomb attacks, Fathima Ilham, the wife of the younger of the two brothers, blasted explosives strapped to herself, killing her two children and three police officers who rushed to the family home in Colombo.

"We are going to use prevention of terrorist financing laws to confiscate their property," Gunasekera said.

The self-proclaimed Caliph of IS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, appeared in a video on Monday praising the Sri Lanka attacks, calling them "vengeance for their brothers in Baghouz", in a reference to ISIS’s last stronghold in eastern Syria, which they were driven out of by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in March.

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