WASHINGTON: On Friday, the US Department of Justice accused three Sri Lankans of promoting terrorism for their role in the Easter attack in 2019, which killed 268 civilians.
On the Christian holiday on April 21, 2019, the department said the three were part of the’ ISIS in Sri Lanka’ community behind the attacks on three churches and three luxury hotels in three cities.
The jihadist Islamic State group assumed responsibility and termed the well-planned attacks a revenge against the group in Syria for Western coalition actions. Amongst the missing were five Americans.
The three accused are Mohamed Naufar, the “second emir” who IS recruiter and teacher in Sri Lanka; Mohamed Anwar Mohamed Riskan, who reportedly helped create the explosives used in the attacks; and Ahamed Milhan Hayathu Mohamed, who, the Justice Department said, killed a police officer in the blast.
All three are in detention in Sri Lanka, and in the event they obtain their freedom, the Justice Department said it would help their prosecution in that country while retaining the U.S. allegations.
“This case clearly demonstrates that when they target Americans anywhere in the world, the United States will take decisive action to ensure that terrorists face justice,” said Nick Hanna, the US federal prosecutor in Los Angeles, where the case was brought.
The United States remains confident in the abilities of the Sri Lankan authorities to bring the suspects to justice, and this lawsuit makes clear that in the event the defendants continue to escape justice, we are ready for these proceedings,” he said in a statement.”
The three were charged with supplying a known international terrorist group with financial support, and Naufar and Milhan were charged with engaging with military-type preparation.
The men have no link to California, however, according to the US attorney’s office, the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force leading the probe is located in Los Angeles.
The three men were linked to a party in Sri Lanka that sponsored IS and is suspected of suicide bombings at Christian churches and hotels in three Sri Lankan cities on April 21, 2019, prosecutors said.
Naufar is accused of leading propaganda activities in Sri Lanka for the organisation that calls itself IS, recruited others to join the group and undertook training of the military kind, authorities said.
Riskan is accused of helping to make explosive devices used in the bombings, and Moahmed allegedly killed a Sri Lankan police officer to procure a gun, shot a supposed spy, and searched a place for a separate terrorist attack, prosecutors said.
In Sri Lanka, the men were being detained and it was not entirely clear if they had lawyers who could advocate for them.
Nick Hanna, US attorney for the Central District of California, claimed in the announcement that this case explicitly indicates that the United States will take decisive steps to ensure that terrorists face justice as they attack Americans everywhere in the world.
In the case that the accused continue to evade justice, this lawsuit makes it clear that we are prepared for these proceedings.