‘Terror group NTJ wanted separate Islamic confederate in Sri Lanka’: Official
Central agencies responsible for countering the influence of Islamic State in India have found that Sri Lanka-based National Towheed Jama’at (NTJ), a Tamil Nadu-based outfit and some people from Kerala were in regular touch for over a year to create a “separate Islamic confederation” in the region, a counterterrorism official claimed.
The official, however, said the Tamil Nadu-based organisation doesn’t seem to be involved in Sri Lanka attacks but it was in touch with radical elements, an angle which needs to be probed further.
The IS on Tuesday owned up the Easter Sunday bombing in the island nation that killed more than 350 people. The NTJ was led by Maulvi Zahran Bin Hashim, the alleged mastermind of Sunday attacks. He blew himself up at Shangri La hotel in Colombo, primary investigations have revealed. The Indian agencies are also working on a Bangladeshi link to the-IS inspired modules that have tried or are trying to establish a base in south India.
The National Investigation Agency had claimed last year that over a dozen IS recruits from Tamil Nadu and Kerala had either travelled to Sri Lanka to get radical Islamic lessons before moving to Islamic State-held territory in Nangarhar province (Afghanistan) or were in touch with Hashim for Jehadi activities, as first reported by HT.
Those who travelled to Sri Lanka include Ashfak Majeed from Kasargod (went to Sri Lanka in February 2016 along with his wife and daughter), Abdul Rashid Abdulla from Kozhikode (went to SL with his wife and daughter in 2016) and Palakkad resident Bestin Vincent who left with his wife in December 2015. They all were investigated by NIA following a first information report (FIR) number 04/2016 was registered in Mumbai.
Similarly, the Sri Lanka link was found by NIA in its 33/2016 FIR lodged in Coimbatore. In this case, six IS suspects — Mohammed Ashiq A, Ismail S, Samsudeen, Mohammed Salauddin S, Jafar Shadik Ali and Shahul Hameed have been named. They were in touch with Hashim and videos recovered from them gave a hint to agencies about a big terror plan in Sri Lanka, investigators claimed.
The NIA is now is re-examining documents and evidence collected by it while probing IS modules in the southern states to see if Hashim had radicalised other Indian IS members as well. The central agency has so far arrested over 70 IS members since 2014 from different states but maximum number of youngsters influenced by IS ideology are from Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin found mentions among TIME magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the category of political leaders. Amid the ongoing war between the two countries, the addition of the two most-talked about leaders of the year so far on the list is no surprise. What's interesting about the two leaders on the list is their description.
A gas cylinder explosion in the capital of the United Arab Emirates killed two people and injured 120 others Monday, police said, hours after authorities downplayed the incident and warned the public not to share images of the aftermath. The explosion struck a restaurant just after 1 p.m. in Abu Dhabi's Khalidiya neighborhood, just a few blocks from the capital's beachfront corniche.
US President Joe Biden met Monday with families of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea decades ago to show his support for their efforts to win the return of their loved ones. Japan says North Korea abducted at least 17 Japanese citizens, possibly many more, during the 1970s and 1980s. Twelve remain missing. They include school children and others living along Japan's coast. It has promised a reinvestigation, but has never announced the results.
Sri Lanka's embattled President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Monday inducted eight more ministers in his Cabinet to handle the country's financial crisis, its worst since gaining independence from Britain's rule in 1948. The new ministers belong to the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna, and its allies--the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and Eelam People's Democratic Party. However, the crucial finance portfolio continues to be vacant.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for “maximum” sanctions against Russia during a virtual speech Monday to corporate executives, government officials and other elites on the first day of the World Economic Forum gathering in Davos. He said sanctions need to go further to stop Russia's aggression, including an oil embargo, blocking all of its banks and cutting off trade with Russia completely. He said that it's a precedent that would work for decades to come.