COLOMBO - Zahran Hashim, who is believed to have masterminded the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka , spent substantial time in southern India, a top Sri Lankan military source, reported The Hindu on Friday.
Investigators identified Hashim as the leader of the National Tauheed Jamaath, which they said executed the highly coordinated blasts in the Indian Ocean island nation.
Two days later, the militant Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks and subsequently released an image of eight suspected bombers. The man seen standing at the centre is believed to be Hashim. The other militants had covered their faces with a scarf.
Sri Lankan investigators, however, have identified nine suicide bombers, including a woman. “We are looking into the Islamic State angle. We also suspect that some of those radical youth were indoctrinated and trained in India, possibly Tamil Nadu,” the senior official said, on condition of anonymity.
Indian officials would not comment on Hashim travelling to India but pointed to evidence of virtual links he maintained with youth believed to be of Indian origin.
More than 100 followers of Hashim’s Facebook page are being investigated, said an official, who asked not to be named. The first hints of Hashim’s doctrinal videos, to likely radicalise youth, emerged when Indian authorities interrogated seven members of a group whose leader, officials found, was a follower of Hashim.