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AFP
May 4, 2019

SL attack mastermind used chatrooms to sway suicide bombers

World

AFP
May 4, 2019

COLOMBO: While Sri Lanka Easter suicide attacks mastermind Zahran Hashim used social media to publicly call for the death of non-Muslims, he worked for months in private chatrooms to persuade six young men to sacrifice themselves, Muslim community leaders say.

Christians and foreign tourists were badly hit in the attacks on three churches and three hotels that killed 257 people, but Sri Lanka’s Muslim community has also been badly scarred and has been looking into the backgrounds of Hashim and his Jihadist acolytes.

Hashim, who died in an attack on the Shangri-La hotel on April 21, inspired wealthy brothers Ilham Ibrahim and Inshaf Ibrahim to join and bankroll his assault, police and fellow Muslims said.

"We suspect the two brothers used their money from the spice business to finance the bombings," one police investigator said. "It seems the indoctrination was via the internet -- Facebook and YouTube."

Neighbours of the Ibrahim brothers said they were secretive but devout Muslims. They were not active members of a congregation, community leaders said. "We believe Zahran radicalised these people using Facebook," said R. Abdul Razik, a leader of the moderate Ceylon Thowheed Jama’ath (CTJ) group. "Especially in the past year, he has been openly calling for the killing of non-Muslims."

Investigators and community leaders believe the group also used social media private messenges to keep in touch without being noticed by the authorities. The CTJ and the main body of Islamic clerics, the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama, had alerted Sri Lanka’s security establishment to Hashim and his acolytes, but said their warnings failed to get serious attention.

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