Sri Lankan authorities this week reportedly identified two sons and a daughter-in-law of a local millionaire spice trader as some of the jihadis involved in the wave of suicide bombings that targeted Christians on Easter Sunday, killing and injuring hundreds.
Y.M. Ibrahim, the local millionaire, is reportedly among the estimated 60 people arrested in the wake of the attack.
On Wednesday, the Washington Post revealed that “Ibrahim once made a bid to join politics under the banner of a Marxist-leaning party,” adding:
At least three of the suicide bombers who struck Sri Lanka on Easter belonged to the same extended family, police said. The patriarch is one of the country’s most successful spice traders.
Two of his sons carried out attacks early Sunday morning, according to law enforcement. That afternoon as police entered the family residence, officials said, his daughter-in-law detonated explosives, killing herself and three officers.
Citing Sri Lanka’s Deputy Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardene, New Zealand’s Newshub linked Ibrahim’s family to an unnamed Islamic extremist group that had broken its affiliation with local jihadi outfit National Thowheed Jamaath (NTJ).
The revelations about the involvement of Ibrahim’s family in the Easter Sunday jihadi attacks mainly against churches and luxury hotels came after Wijewardene told reporters Wednesday that “most of [the suspected terrorists] are well-educated and come from upper middle class, and so they are financially independent.”
In March 2016, the Associated Press (AP) reported that ISIS was seeking to recruit well-educated individuals with sophisticated skills in Pakistan, also located in South Asia.
Initially, local law enforcement blamed NTJ for the attack, which killed more than 350, including four Americans, and wounded about 500 others, including several U.S. citizens.
However, Wijewardene indicated that authorities are looking into ISIS claims of responsibility, noting that they do not know the extent of the group’s involvement.
There is a connection to ISIS through “ideology and maybe funding,” he claimed, stressing that the investigation is ongoing.
ISIS has established a presence in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region near Sri Lanka. In March, a U.S. watchdog agency said ISIS’s Afghan branch has expanded since 2016.
According to the Post, authorities said they know the identities of eight of the nine suspected suicide bombers, but have refused to elaborate further.
Sri Lankan authorities have also identified Zahran Hashim, who spewed his jihadi views in online sermons, as the mastermind of the attack.
Local officials have denied having intelligence that warned of potential attacks in advance of the Easter Sunday carnage.
Reports connecting affluent jihadis to the barbaric acts in Sri Lanka contradict theassertion by former U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration that a lack of jobs and other economic opportunities is fueling Islamic terrorism.
Under the previous administration, the U.S. launched a global counter-terror fund to provide what then-Secretary of State John Kerry described as “more economic opportunities for marginalized youth at risk of [jihadi] recruitment” using public and private funds.
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