A Sri Lankan software engineer, who has emerged as the prime suspect for providing technical and logistical support to Easter Sunday suicide bombers, was reportedly under the radar of Indian intelligence agencies three years ago for links with Islamic State suspects, DD News reported.
According to Sri Lankan investigating agencies, 24-year-old Aadhil Ameez was the key link between two groups that carried out the attacks on churches and hotels that killed over 250 people and wounded hundreds more.
The Sri Lankan police had arrested Aadhil Ameez, an employee of Massachusetts headquartered IT services company Virtusa in Colombo in connection to the deadly Easter bombings on 25 April, four days after the attacks.
The arrest followed a series of raids carried out in various areas of the country following the Easter blasts in which more than 40 suspects have been arrested so far.
Police spokesperson Ruwan Gunasekra confirmed to Reuters that the Virtusa employee was arrested on 27 April "to carry out further investigations into the case".
Virtusa, while confirming the arrest of one of its employee at the Colombo office, said that it could not ascertain the reason behind the arrest.
“We have been informed by the authorities that one of our employees has been taken into custody," Julianne Garry, Virtusa's chief marketing officer, said.
A police officer at India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) and another police official in Gujarat said they were providing assistance to Sri Lankan authorities. Aadhil, who describes himself on his LinkedIn profile as a senior engineer/programmer/web designer with a masters degree in computer science and a bachelors in political science from UK universities, could not be reached for comment.
He does not yet have a lawyer and under Sri Lanka’s tough new emergency laws imposed after the attacks, can be held indefinitely. His father, M. Ameez, who lives in Aluthgama, a town south of Colombo, denied that Aadhil was involved with the plotters and said such “allegations are lies”.
Aadhil has been on the radar of National Investigation Agency (NIA) since 2016 and had named him in two charge-sheets filed in Indian courts against suspected Islamic State operatives as being one of their contacts.
According to one of the chargesheet, he showed up in Facebook, WhatsApp and Telegram chats with two of the suspects who are on trial for plotting an attack on a synagogue in Ahmedabad.
In 2018, two suspects - Mohammad Kasim Stimberwala and Ubed Ahmed Mirza-were held on charges of planning a lone wolf attack on a Jewish synagogue in Khadia area of the city.
The charge sheet claimed that they had also planned attacks on the Jewish community in Mumbai. They wanted to carry out the attack in Mumbai as more Jews lived there compared to Ahmedabad.
The charge sheet was filed in Ankleshwar as one of the suspects was held from there in October 2017.
Aadhil has also been named in another chargesheet filed in court by the NIA for providing propaganda and online material to three Indians arrested in early 2016 for promoting Islamic State.
The three men, Sheikh Azhar ul-Islam, Adnan Hassan and Mohammed Rafiq Sadique Shaikh are on trial in a special Delhi court facing charges of criminal conspiracy to propagate the ideology of Islamic State, recruit, raise funds and facilitate the travel of people to Syria, according to the charge-sheet.
While Stimberwala worked as a laboratory technician at a hospital in Ankleshwar, Mirza was a lawyer practising in the Surat district court.
It was difficult to determine when the Indians informed Sri Lankan authorities of the surveillance. The two officials declined to say whether they continued to keep Aadhil under surveillance after they completed investigation of the cases in India.
Indian intelligence services warned Sri Lankan authorities of a possible attack at least three times in April alone, officials have said.
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