Sri Lankan Bombing ‘Mastermind’ Named as Factory Where Jihadis Plotted Is Pictured

By Zachary Stieber

One of the suicide bombers who set off an explosion in Sri Lanka on April 21 was named as the “mastermind” behind the attacks, which left 329 people dead and some 500 others wounded.

Insan Seelavan, also known as Inshan Seelavan, was named as one of the suicide bombers during a court hearing on Monday, the day after the bombings.

On Wednesday, Shiral Lakthilaka, an adviser to Sri Lanka’s president, told CNN on Wednesday that the man was the “mastermind” behind the attacks.

leader of terrorist group
Mouvli Zahran Hashim in one of his videos posted on YouTube. In some, he said that non-Muslims should be eliminated. (YouTube)

Other officials have said that Mouvli Zahran Hashim, the leader of the Islamic radical group National Thowfeek Jamaath, was the so-called mastermind.

Authorities said the group’s members carried out the attacks with international support and ISIS later claimed responsibility for the bombings.

According to court papers, Seelavan owned a copper factory in a northeastern suburb of Colombo, the capital city where most of the bombings took place.

Pictures published by the Daily Mail showed the inside of the factory, which it said was owned by devout Muslim Inshaf Ahamad. Ahamad was said to have been one of the suicide bombers while his brother Ilham targeted the Shangri-La Hotel.

“They have ruined our family and taken the lives of hundreds of people from all over the world,” their brother Askhan Alamdeen, 29, told the Mail. Their father was arrested at the family’s house after bombs went off there, killing three police officers.

The copper factory was also raided by police officers, who took nine suspects into custody. Detectives believe the suicide vests were built at the factory using the explosive substance triacetone triperoxide, dubbed ‘Mother of Satan’ by al-Qaeda for its destructive power. The substance was used in the 2015 attacks in Paris, among others.

No pictures of Ahamed have been published and a factory worker said Ahamed told others he never wanted his picture taken because of his religious beliefs.

A senior police source told the Mail that Ahamed’s financial background didn’t add up.

Coffins of victims
Coffins of victims are carried during a mass for victims, two days after a string of suicide bomb attacks on churches and luxury hotels across the island on Easter Sunday, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on April 23, 2019. (Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters)

“‘Where did he get so much money from? That is the question we are asking. The network is so widespread that we are just starting to piece it together,” the source said. “It’s like a cancer that has already spread through the body that we are trying to cure.”

Lakthilaka, the presidential adviser, told CNN that the terrorists’ “entire network has been dispersed,” although other officials have said that some suspects might still be at-large.

“The most important thing is to look into the radicalization process,” Lakthilaka added.

Officials also said on Wednesday that there were nine suicide bombers, including one woman, and that around 60 people were arrested for possible links to the bombings.

Sri Lanka’s State Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardene said at a press conference that one of the suicide bombers studied in the United Kingdom.

“We believe that one of the suicide bombers studied in the UK and maybe later on did his post-graduate in Australia, before coming back to settle in Sri Lanka.”

That bomber was later identified as Abdul Lathief Jameel Mohamed.

Wijewardene also said that the majority of the bombers were from wealthy families.

“Most of them are well-educated and come from maybe middle- or upper-middle-class. So they are financially quite independent and their families are quite stable financially,” he said.