April 21 attacks: Investigators to grill extradited suspect | Sunday Observer

April 21 attacks: Investigators to grill extradited suspect

Investigations into the Easter Sunday attacks are expecting to draw out further information from terror suspect Ahmed Milhan Hayathu Mohamed alias Abu Seelan (29) who was recently nabbed and extradited from Saudi Arabia along with four other suspects.

Believed to be the chosen successor of National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ) leader and homegrown terrorist Zahran Hashim, the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) sources now believe Milhan was the mastermind of the double cop killings at a Police post in Vavunathivu in November 2018.

At the time Police had focused merely on the possible LTTE links to the killings ignoring the rising threat of Islamic extremism in the country. Milhan is also being accused of carrying out the attack on Minister Kabir Hashim’s coordinating secretary Mohamed Naslim in March this year.

Naslim was shot at on March 9 in Mawanella.

The incidents at the time should have been red flag warnings to local law enforcement authorities alerting them of the National Thowheed Jamath, their extremist views and the tragic attacks that were to come. In fact, Mohamed Milhan’s name appeared in a Police memo dated April 11, 2019, a mere 10 days prior to the attack. The memo sent by the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of the Special Security Range Priyalal Dassanayake to the Ministerial Security Division, Diplomatic Security Division, Judicial Security Division and the Security Division for Retired President’s warning of an impending attack mentions Milhan by name.

“A person known as Milhan maintains a social media account under the name Mohammed Milhan which interacts with the social media accounts of Zaharan. It has been observed that he has been regularly updating accounts with hate speech again non-Muslims since the March 15, 2019 attacks on a Muslim mosque by a Christian individual in New Zealand” the communique sent out by DIG of the Special Security Range read. It had even noted the mobile phone number used by the suspect and his deep hatred towards non muslims. The memo is yet another piece of information which proves that authorities did possess prior knowledge about the group and the imminent attacks.

Though the Police had the information at hand according to Police sources, Milhan who managed to evade law enforcement authorities left Sri Lanka on April 17 supposedly on a pilgrimage to the Holy city of Mecca. On April 21, his colleagues carried out the dastardly attacks leaving over 250 innocents dead. While investigations into the terror suspects continue, the Police are now attempting to recover Milhan’s mobile phone and laptop to extract further information on the possible role he played in the Easter Sunday plot - Extracts courtesy: The Hindu

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