- The US Justice Dept has charged three Sri Lankan citizens who were part of “ISIS in Sri Lanka” responsible for the 2019 Easter attacks in Sri Lanka.
- Two days after the attacks, ISIS claimed credit for the terrorist acts, attributing the murders to “Islamic State fighters.”
- The three charged are Mohamed Naufar, a recruiter and trainer for ISIS; Mohamed Anwar Mohamed Riskan, who helped manufacture bombs; and Ahamed Milhan Hayathu Mohamed, who killed a police officer in the attack
- The criminal case filed on December 11 in United States District Court in Los Angeles is the result of a nearly two-year investigation by the FBI, which assisted Sri Lankan authorities
The US Justice Department on Friday announced that three Sri Lankan citizens have been charged with terrorism offenses, including conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization (ISIS). The US Justice Dept said the men were part of a group of ISIS supporters that called itself “ISIS in Sri Lanka” and was responsible for the 2019 Easter attacks in Sri Lanka.
The 2019 terror attacks in the island nation killed 268 people, including five U.S. citizens, and injured over 500 others. Two days after the attacks, ISIS claimed credit for the terrorist acts, attributing the murders to “Islamic State fighters.” In late April 2019, the then-leader of ISIS praised the attackers for what he called a retaliation against “the West” for defeating ISIS the prior month in Baghuz, Syria.
The three terrorists 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.
The FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force in Los Angeles, including personnel assigned responsibilities for extraterritorial matters, is leading the investigation.
The US 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 December 11 in United States 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.
“This case clearly demonstrates that the United States will take decisive action to ensure terrorists face justice when they target Americans anywhere in the world,” said Nick Hanna, the US federal prosecutor in Los Angeles, where the case was filed. “The United States remains confident in the Sri Lankan authorities’ ability to bring the perpetrators to justice – and this complaint makes clear that we stand ready with these charges in the event the defendants attempt to evade justice,” he said in a statement.
“The domestic charges announced today for an attack on foreign soil represent the FBI’s commitment to deliver justice to traveling American victims and to protect U.S. interests here and abroad,” said Kristi K. Johnson, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.