The US has charged three Sri Lankan citizens with terrorism offences over the Easter Sunday attacks of 2019. The charges against the trio include conspiring to provide material support to ISIS in Sri Lanka during 2019.
In a release the US Department of Justice said The men were part of a group of ISIS supporters which called itself “ISIS in Sri Lanka.” That group is responsible for the 2019 Easter attacks in the South Asian nation of Sri Lanka, which killed 268 people, including five U.S. citizens, and injured over 500 others, according to a federal criminal complaint unsealed today.
The complaint outlines the defendants’ roles in the conspiracy and the events that led to near-simultaneous suicide bombings in the Sri Lankan cities of Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa on April 21, 2019. One of the U.S. citizens killed was a Department of Commerce employee who had traveled to Sri Lanka on official business.
The criminal case filed on Dec. 11, 2020, in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles is the result of a nearly two-year investigation by the FBI, which assisted Sri Lankan authorities in the wake of the suicide bombings that targeted Christian churches and luxury hotels frequented by Westerners. The defendants named in the complaint, along with other suspects linked to the attacks, are currently detained in Sri Lanka.
The three defendants named in the criminal complaint, all of whom pledged allegiance to ISIS, are:
- Mohamed Naufar, the “second emir” for the group of ISIS supporters that called itself “ISIS in Sri Lanka,” who allegedly led the group’s propaganda efforts, recruited others to join ISIS, and led a series of multi-day military-type trainings;
- Mohamed Anwar Mohamed Riskan, who allegedly helped manufacture the IEDs used in the Easter Attacks; and
- Ahamed Milhan Hayathu Moahmed, who allegedly executed a police officer in order to obtain the officer’s firearm, shot a suspected informant, and scouted a location for a separate terrorist attack.
All three defendants are charged with conspiring to provide, providing, and attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. Additionally, Naufar and Milhan are charged with aiding and abetting the receipt of military-type training from ISIS.
According to the complaint, the three charged defendants and others involved in the conspiracy – including eight terrorists who died in the suicide bombings – conspired to provide, provided, and attempted to provide material support, including services and personnel, to ISIS through various actions, including: (1) creating, maintaining, and serving as members of a group of ISIS supporters in Sri Lanka devoted to ISIS, its ideology, and to planning and encouraging violent attacks to advance ISIS’s goals; (2) obtaining explosive materials and IED components; (3) manufacturing and testing IEDs, including the types of IEDs ultimately used in the attack; (4) recruiting other ISIS in Sri Lanka members; (5) using ISIS-created training materials to instruct and train the attackers and their co-conspirators in the use of firearms and explosives; (6) procuring safe houses for the group to prepare for attacks in the name of ISIS, including the Easter Attacks, while avoiding law enforcement detection; (7) following ISIS directives to use specific end-to-end encrypted messaging applications to conceal the criminal conspiracy; (8) murdering two Sri Lankan police offers to obtain the officers’ firearms; and (9) shooting a suspected police informant.