The Sri Lankan extremist Zahran Hashim, one of the key figures in the attacks in Sri Lanka, died in those attacks. President Maithripala Sirisena said that today in a speech. He also expressed criticism at the top of the police and Sri Lankan defense. They warned today via Twitter for new attacks.
“What the intelligence services told me is that Zahran was killed in the attack in Shangri-La,” the president told the press. Zahran, with a second terrorist, a certain “Ilham,” entered the luxury hotel in the capital, Colombo, where they exploded a bomb.
Zahran Hashim was a radical preacher with many videos to be found online. He was the leader of the National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ), a local extremist movement that was little known until Sunday and, according to Sri Lanka, is behind the attacks.
The police warn today via Twitter that according to information from the intelligence services, Islamists would like to attack the mosques of Sufists. Sufism is a movement within Islam with mythical traditions and rites. Radical Islamists regard Sufists as enemies because of their tolerance towards other religions. The security measures at mosques have been stepped up according to the police.
The American embassy in Sri Lanka also warned of new attacks yesterday.
The police in Sri Lanka are still looking for at least 140 people with ties to the Islamic group that is being held responsible for the attacks. According to President Maithripala Sirisena, these are people who have been involved in the extremist movement since 2013.
The police have so far arrested 76 suspects, not only Sri Lankans but also people from Egypt and Syria. After the Sunday attacks, there are warnings in Sri Lanka for new terror.
According to the police, interrogations also show that the perpetrators have received weapons training abroad. Among the arrested people there is number two of the local terror group and the bomb maker.
President Sirisena did not have much good to say about the police. They would not have shared with him the information they had about impending attacks.
The government of Ranil Wickremesinghe also received a swipe. It would have weakened the intelligence services by paying more attention to prosecuting soldiers for war crimes in the long civil war against the Tamil separatists. Sirisena fired Wickremesinghe in October because of political disagreements. Under pressure from the highest court in the country, he had to reverse that.
The president also said that the chief of police has resigned: “The police inspector general has resigned.”