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May 15, 2019

Lankan software engineer, under Indian surveillance, key in Easter attack

World

May 15, 2019

COLOMBO/AHMEDABAD: A Sri Lankan software engineer suspected by authorities in Sri Lanka of having provided technical and logistical support to the Easter Sunday suicide bombers was monitored by Indian intelligence agencies three years ago for links with Islamic State suspects, investigators said.

Four sources in Sri Lankan investigating agencies said they believed Aadhil Ameez, a 24-year-old, was the link between two groups that carried out the attacks on churches and hotels that killed more than 250 people and wounded hundreds more.

Aadhil has been arrested and is in police custody, the sources said. His arrest has not been made public, but when asked by media, Ruwan Gunasekera, the main spokesman for the Sri Lankan police, confirmed Aadhil was taken into custody on April 25, four days after the attacks.

The spokesman declined to give more details. A police official at India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) and another police official in the western state of Gujarat said they were providing assistance to Sri Lankan authorities. Aadhil, who describes himself on his LinkedIn profile as a senior engineer/programmer/web designer with a masters degree in computer science and a bachelors in political science from U.K. universities, could not be reached for comment.

He does not yet have a lawyer and under Sri Lanka’s tough new emergency laws imposed after the attacks, he can be held indefinitely. His father, M. Ameez, who lives in Aluthgama, a town south of Colombo, denied that Aadhil was involved with the plotters and said such “allegations are lies”.

The Indian investigators said they had been monitoring Aadhil since 2016 and named him in two chargesheets filed in Indian courts against suspected Islamic State operatives as being one of their contacts.

According to one of the chargesheets, reviewed by media, he showed up in Facebook, WhatsApp and Telegram chats with two of the suspects who are on trial for plotting an attack on a synagogue in the western city of Ahmedabad.

The two suspects Ubed Ahmad Mirza, a lawyer, and Stimberwala Mohamed Kasim, a hospital technician, were accused of planning “lone-wolf” attacks, according to the chargesheet.

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