Sri Lanka: The two millionaire brothers behind the Easter Sunday’s attacks: One of Sri Lanka’s wealthiest people has been arrested on suspicion of helping his sons to carry out the Easter Sunday terror attacks that left nearly 360 people dead. Sri Lanka’s former navy chief Jayanath Colombage, who now is a counter-terrorism expert at the Pathfinder Foundation told the Associated Press that Spice merchant Mohamed Ibrahim was arrested on Thursday afternoon. He was one of the 58 people being questioned by police over the attacks.
Two of Mr Ibrahim’s sons, well educated brothers Inshaf and Ilham Ahamed Ibrahim, who lived at the white house on Mahawela Gardens and died in separate blasts at two Colombo hotels on Sunday, have emerged as key players in suicide attacks that killed more than 350 people and stunned an island state that had enjoyed a decade of relative peace.
The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for the coordinated attacks on three churches and four hotels.
Inshaf, 33, is believed to be the mastermind behind the deadly attacks and died when he blew himself up at the Cinnamon Grand while standing in the hotel’s third-floor restaurant. His younger brother Ilham blew himself up inside the Shangri-La. Another of Mr. Ibrahim’s sons was being questioned by police on Wednesday.
Mr. Ibrahim owned the Colombo home where another bomb went off after Sunday’s initial attacks. His daughter-in-law blew herself up as police closed in, killing three officers.
“I was shocked. We never thought they were this kind of people,” said Sanjeewa Jayasinghe, a 38-year-old network cabling engineer who works next door to the Ibrahim family home.
Fathima Fazla, one of Ibrahim’s neighbour, while glancing affectionately at her two young daughters, said, “He was famous in the area for helping the poor with food and money. It’s unthinkable his children could have done that. Because of what they have done, all Muslims are treated as suspects.”
Sri Lanka’s authorities confirmed yesterday that one of the suicide bombers behind the Easter Sunday massacre had lived and studied in Australia and had also spent time in the UK.
Speaking in Townsville today, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said one of the attackers had spent time here. Mr. Morrison said, “I can confirm the suicide bomber had been in Australia. They departed in early 2013. That individual had been here on a student and graduate skilled visa. They had no visa (since).”
Mr. Wijewardene said it was “worrying” so many of the suspects were “well educated and come from the upper middle class and so they are financially independent”.
A curfew, that requires Sri Lankans to be in their homes by 10 pm, was imposed again last night. Sri Lanka declared a state of emergency from midnight on Monday, giving police and military expanded power to detain suspects. Sri Lanka now says nine suicide bombers were involved, eight of whom have been identified.
Mr. Wijewardene confirmed a number of the bombers had previously been in police custody. He said, “Yes, some of them I think on earlier incidents have been taken into custody and on small skirmishes … but nothing to this magnitude before.”
He further added, “We are asking the people to be vigilant. I’m not saying the country is 100 percent at the moment. Within the next few days, we will have the situation totally under control.”