Days after the deadly multiple suicide bomb attacks by Islamic terrorists on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka, which killed at least 360 people, it has emerged that the terrorists involved in the explosions in the island nation had links with IS sympathisers in Tamil Nadu.
Intelligence inputs about a possible terror attack in Sri Lanka that was shared by Indian agencies with their Sri Lankan counterparts earlier this month were based on the probe conducted by National Investigation Agency (NIA) into an ISIS-inspired module planning to assassinate prominent leaders in South India, including Hindu Makkal Katchi Thiru, Arjun Sampath and Sakthi Sena leader Anbu Mari.
Last September, a special Investigation Unit of the Coimbatore police had foiled a plot by seven-members of an IS inspired Islamic group in Tamil Nadu to murder Hindu Makkal Katchi (Tamil Nadu) leader Arjun Sampath, Hindu Munnani leader Mookambikai Mani and Sakthi Sena leader Anbu Mari.
All the seven members namely Ismail from Tindivanam, Salavudheen from Otteri, Jaffar Sadiq Ali from Vyasarpadi, Shamsudheen from Pallavaram, Ashik from Poomarket, Faizal from GM Nagar and Shahul Hameed aka Anwar were arrested and booked under Sections 143 and 120 B of the IPC and 15,16,18, 20 and 38 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Last November, the case was subsequently taken over by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
In December, NIA had raided three places in Coimbatore in connection with the plot to kill the Hindu leaders. Raids were conducted at the houses of three of those arrested.
During investigation, the NIA probe team had stumbled upon videos of National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) leader Zahran Hashim, who indicated a terror attack on the Indian High Commission in Colombo.
After further investigation which included cyber trailing of some of the accounts associated with the ISIS, the Central security agencies shared an input with their Sri Lankan counterparts about churches being the likely target of an ISIS module which sought to lure and radicalise recruits.
The videos, seized from Coimbatore, showed Hashim radicalising youths from Sri Lanka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala to establish an Islamic rule in the region.
Hashim’s videos and speeches were part of seizures made by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) during raids in Coimbatore last year. Indian agencies alerted Sri Lankan counterparts and had warned specifically about the use of radicalised suicide bombers attacking churches and the Indian High Commission in Colombo.
Nine suicide bombers, believed to be the members of a local Islamist extremist group National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ), carried out a series of devastating blasts that tore through three churches and three luxury hotels.
Officials said that with the arrest of 16 more people on Wednesday (24 April), the total number of suspects under police custody has risen to 76. Many of the arrested people have suspected links to the NTJ, the group blamed for the bombings. However, the NTJ has not claimed responsibility for the attacks.
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks and identified suicide bombers who carried out the devastating blasts. Authorities have deployed thousands of troops to help police carry out search operations. Over 5,000 army personnel have been deployed around the country.
With Inputs From PTI