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Easter attacks: US charges 3 Sri Lankans

January 09, 2021 15:04 IST

The United States has charged three Sri Lankan nationals for allegedly being part of a group of Islamic State supporters responsible for the 2019 Easter attacks in the island nation that killed 268 people.

Mohamed Naufar, Mohamed Anwar Mohamed Riskan and Ahamed Milhan Hayathu Moahmed are currently in custody in Sri Lanka, according to a federal criminal complaint unsealed Friday.

The criminal case was filed on December 11, in the US District Court in Los Angeles.

Naufar, the "second emir" for the group of Islamic State supporters that called itself "ISIS in Sri Lanka" who allegedly led the group's propaganda efforts, recruited others to join ISIS and led a series of multi-day military-type trainings.

Riskan allegedly helped manufacture the IEDs used in the Easter Attacks; and Moahmed allegedly executed a police officer in order to obtain the officer's firearm, shot a suspected informant, and scouted a location for a separate terrorist attack.

"ISIS's Easter attacks in Sri Lanka killed 268 people, including five Americans, many while they worshipped," said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C Demers.

 

"Today, we charge these defendants with bearing their share of the responsibility for these deaths.

According to these charges, the defendants were committed supporters of ISIS, recruited others to ISIS's violent cause, purchased materials for and made IEDs, helped to prepare and trained others who participated in the attacks, and murdered in the name of this deadly foreign terrorist organisation. They are in custody in Sri Lanka," he said.

Demers said that the US fully supports the Sri Lankan investigation and prosecution of these terrorists and will continue to work with the authorities there to pursue its shared goal of holding these defendants accountable for their crimes.

According to the complaint, the three charged defendants and others involved in the conspiracy -- including eight terrorists who died in the suicide bombings -- conspired to provide, provided, and attempted to provide material support, including services and personnel, to ISIS through various actions.

Prominent among these include creating, maintaining, and serving as members of a group of ISIS supporters in Sri Lanka devoted to ISIS, its ideology, and to planning and encouraging violent attacks to advance ISIS's goals; obtaining explosive materials and IED components; and manufacturing and testing IEDs, including the types of IEDs ultimately used in the attack; recruiting other ISIS in Sri Lanka members.

They have also been charged for using ISIS-created training materials to instruct and train the attackers and their co-conspirators in the use of firearms and explosives; procuring safe houses for the group to prepare for attacks in the name of ISIS, including the Easter Attacks, while avoiding law enforcement detection; following ISIS directives to use specific end-to-end encrypted messaging applications to conceal the criminal conspiracy; and murdering two Sri Lankan police offers to obtain the officers' firearms; and shooting a suspected police informant.

Lalit K Jha
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