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Drug addicts, not religious extremists: Lanka on 4 IS suspects

Last updated on: May 30, 2024 23:11 IST

The Sri Lankan government on Thursday said that four of its nationals arrested in India last week by the authorities in Gujarat for links with the Islamic State terror group have no record of being "religious extremists" but drug addicts.

IMAGE: Gujarat ATS with four suspected ISIS terrorists, who were arrested from the airport, in Ahmedabad, May 20, 2024. Photograph: ANI Photo

Speaking to reporters in the Eastern town of Ampara, secretary of defence Kamal Ginaratne said that the Sri Lankan authorities were also asked to check on the background of those arrested in India and accordingly after a probe it has been found that they are into drugs.


“We are currently investigating them. We have found them to be severely addicted to drugs. They are not religious extremists,” Gunaratne said responding to a question.

He said that the Sri Lankan authorities have arrested more of their associates but it won't be right to reveal any more details on them as the investigation is going on.

The police arrested two more suspects from the northwestern regions on May 29 while one suspect was already in their custody.

The Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad arrested four Sri Lankans with links to ISIS at the airport in Ahmedabad. The four men had taken an Indigo flight out of Colombo to Chennai on May 19.

Sri Lankan security forces suspect that a 46-year-old man - identified as Osmand Gerrard - acted as their handler and facilitated their movement from Lanka to India.

The police have also noticed a cash reward for information on the suspected handler of the four arrested by the Indian authorities.

Gunaratne said the defence establishment won't leave room for any attacks like the 2019 Easter Sunday attack carried out by a local jihadi group which killed over 270 people including Indians.

The 2019 attack came despite advance warming to Sri Lankan defence officials from Indian intelligence services, a probe commission appointed in the aftermath of the attack was told.

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