We warned the government about radical preachers in Sri Lanka: Mosque official

Reyyaz Salley, chairman of the Shaikh Usman Waliyullah mosque said he had repeatedly attempted to warn the government about radical preachers, including Zahran Hashim, the alleged master mind. 

Published: 24th April 2019 07:04 PM  |   Last Updated: 24th April 2019 07:04 PM   |  A+A-

By PTI

COLOMBO: The Sri Lankan government came under attack on Wednesday for its inaction against radical preachers in the country with a mosque official here saying he had repeatedly warned authorities, including on the activities of the alleged mastermind of the deadly suicide attacks on Easter Sunday.

Suicide bombers, the majority of them from well-to-do families and believed to be members of a little-known- Islamist extremist group - the National Tawheed Jamath (NTJ) - carried out a series of devastating blasts that tore through three churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka on Sunday, killing 359 people, including 10 Indians, in the country's worst terror attack.

ALSO READ: After Coimbatore ISIS case probe was completed, India alerted Sri Lanka regarding terror plot

Reyyaz Salley, chairman of the Shaikh Usman Waliyullah mosque in Colombo said he had repeatedly attempted to warn the government about radical preachers in Sri Lanka, including Zahran Hashim, the alleged mastermind of the attacks.

"They started to attack Sufi mosques and shrines (in 2010)," he said. In February 2019, Salley sent police and intelligence officials videos that Hashim made, which Salley considered promoting jihad. He urged them to act upon it.

"People have been brainwashed. He was talking about jihad. These are all very dangerous messages for the country," he said.

ALSO READ: Sri Lanka Muslims fear backlash post-Easter blasts

"If the authorities had taken our advice this could have been prevented," he said. Some of the attackers in the bombings had previously been arrested, State Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardene told journalists at a press conference on Wednesday.

"Some of them, in earlier incidents, had been taken into custody (following) small skirmishes, but nothing of this magnitude," he said.

Wijewardene said that the majority of Sunday's suicide bombers were from well-heeled families. They were also well-educated, including at least a university graduate who had studied abroad.

"Most of them are well-educated and come from maybe middle- or upper-middle-class. So they are financially quite independent and their families are quite stable financially," he said.

WATCH | Suicide bomber enters Sri Lankan church moments before blowing himself up

"We believe that one of the suicide bombers studied in the UK and maybe, later on, did his post-graduate in Australia, before coming back to settle in Sri Lanka," he said.

Police say they have identified eight out of nine attackers - one of whom is believed to have been a woman - with no foreigners among them.

Authorities say they are looking into possible links between the locals who carried out the suicide bombings and the Islamic State group.

ALSO READ: Two Muslim brothers were Sri Lanka hotel suicide bombers: Sources

Sri Lanka's government has blamed the blasts on local Islamist group National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ). But Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the attacks "could not have been done just locally".

"There had been training is given and coordination which we are not seeing earlier," he said. Police have now detained around 60 suspects in connection with the attack. A state of emergency remains in effect to prevent further attacks.

Stay up to date on all the latest World news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp