Heads are rolling in Sri Lanka for failing to act on intelligence alerts shared by foreign agencies on the possible suicide bombings. The failure has resulted in coordinated deadly attacks on Churches and luxury hotels killing over 350 people on the Easter Sunday on April 21. Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has asked for the resignation of the police chief and defense secretary.
The much quoted intelligence input with specific warnings about the target (churches) and timing (Easter) was shared by India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA). The information was extracted while NIA was probing an ISIS module, based in Tamil Nadu
In September 2018, the Coimbatore police had arrested five men who were allegedly plotting to kill Hindu leaders in the state. One of the arrested confessed to being a ‘secret member of ISIS’.
The NIA took over the case in October 2018. The probe revealed that the accused men had been radicalised on the extremist ISIS ideology, and propagating it through the social media. It was found that they wanted to further their objectives by carrying out terror attacks on Hindu leaders, specifically, Coimbatore-based Arjun Sampath of Hindu Makkal Katchi and Anbu Mari of Sakthi Sena .
The accused are Mohamed Ashiq A, Ismail S, Samsudeen, Mohammed Salauddin S, Jafar Shadik Ali and Shahul Hameed.
During the probe, NIA team came across videos of National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) leader Zahran Hashim, which hinted at a possible terror attack on the Indian High Commission in Colombo. The videos also showed Hashim call for Islamic rule in the region comprising Sri Lanka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
The team dug deeper with cyber trailing of some accounts associated with the ISIS, and stumbled upon clues to NJT’s plans to target churches. NIA promptly shared the inputs with Sri Lanka through diplomatic channels. Sri Lanka police chief, in turn, sent out a warning letter to district police officers, as reported, but the warning went in vain.