On 25 April, four days after the coordinated Easter Day suicide bombings at churches and high-end hotels, that killed more than 250 people, CID (Criminal Investigations Department) in Sri Lanka released pictures of those suspected of involvement in the Easter suicide bombings .
Police made the appeal over Sri Lankan media seeking public assistance to trace them. The public was requested to provide any credible information regarding the suspects to the police.
Police identified the names of three males as Mohammad Ivuhaim Sadiq Abdul Haq, Mohammed Ivuhaim Shaid Abdul Haq, Mohammed Casim Mohammed Rilwan. Three women suspected of involvement were identified as Fatima Latif, Pulasthini Mahendran alias Sarah, Abdul Cader Fatima Kadir. All appeared to be in their 20s.
Further investigation by Sri Lankan authorities identified the suicide bombers as Zahran Hashim and Ilham Ibrahim (who blew themselves up at Shangri-La Hotel), Inshaf Ibrahim (who attacked the Cinnamon Grand bomber), Mohammad Azad (the Zion Church bomber) and Mohammad Hasthoon, who is believed to have carried out the deadliest act targeting church of St. Sebastian during the Easter Mass.
One name among the list of terror suspects stood out - Pulasthini Mahendran alias Sarah.
Pulasthini Mahendran aka Sara, the wife of suicide bomber Mohammad Hasthoon, is also said to be an active participant in the terror plot.
Sri Lankan authorities are currently investigating whether the wife intended to be a bomber herself after a pastor of a church identified her as wearing a long skirt and waiting at the gates of his church at daybreak Easter morning.
According to this report in The Wall Street Journal that is based on the pastor’s account, she entered the church and prayed, but appeared to be in physical pain as and left before the 7:30 a.m. Easter mass and didn’t return. Her family has since confirmed that she does have a difficulty kneeling because of permanent injury to one of her knees from an accident many years ago.
A new investigation by a popular web channel IBC Tamizh has revealed several explosive details on how Pulasthini Mahendran, born in a devout lower middle class Hindu family in Thettativu (situated in Batticaloa district, Eastern province, Sri Lanka), was trapped, abducted and radicalised by functionaries of Islamists groups.
The video report is based on a detailed interview with Kavitha Mahendran, the mother of Pulasthini Mahendran.
According to Kavitha, Pulasthini was a very good student who was pursuing medical studies. She has also won accolades in her school for traditional Tamil Hindu religious studies, which is part of the curriculum in schools in Tamil-dominated areas of Sri Lanka.
Kavitha alleges that during her studies, Pulasthini got abducted by a man named Abdul Razik. Kavitha made several attempts to get her daughter back and even made fervent appeals to Razik. Razik, however, refused her pleas claiming that her daughter was ‘happy’ with him and has made an ‘informed’ adult choice.
Few months later, Razik called Kavitha Mahendran to inform her that Pulasthini has now ‘embraced’ Islam and has been married off to one Muslim man (most likely to Mohammad Hasthoon, identified as suicide bomber behind the St. Sebastian Church bombing.
On hearing the news, a completely shattered Kavitha Mahendran even decide to leave Sri Lanka for a short duration. Before leaving, she had called Razik to inform him that she longer considers Pulasthini as her daughter, and that he will be held responsible for whatever happens with her.
Within a month, Kavitha claims that she received a call from her daughter who was distraught and on the verge of complete breakdown. During the call, Pulasthini informed her mother that she was not happy with the person she has been married off to. Pulasthini accused her husband of infidelity and said he had many extramarital relationships. But since this phone call, Kavitha never heard from her daughter again.
Kavitha says that around two weeks before the Easter Sunday blasts, an unidentified man came at her place looking for Pulasthini. When she inquired about the identity of the man, he introduced himself as a Sri Lankan intelligence official but said nothing more.
The IBC investigation also uncovered further information on Kavitha Mahendran and Razik. It has emerged that Abdul Razik is the leader of the radical Islamic organisation, Sri Lankan Thowheed Jamaath (SLTJ), which has close ideological ties with Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamaath. The SLTJ till now has categorically denied any involvement with bombings and has sought to blame a breakaway group called National Thowheed Jamaath as responsible for the terror attack.
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