Sunday 22 September 2019

Wealthy brothers behind attack

Sri Lanka suicide bomber was brainwashed by his younger sibling

A group of men purported to be the Sri Lanka bomb attackers is seen at an unknown location in this still image taken from video uploaded by Isil’s AMAQ news agency and received by Reuters via SITE Intel Group.
A group of men purported to be the Sri Lanka bomb attackers is seen at an unknown location in this still image taken from video uploaded by Isil’s AMAQ news agency and received by Reuters via SITE Intel Group.

Bill Gardner and Ben Farmer Colombo

ONE of the ringleaders of the Sri Lankan bomb attacks was the son of a spice tycoon who was "brainwashed" by his radical younger brother, 'The Daily Telegraph' disclosed.

The first images emerged yesterday of Inshaf Ahmed Ibrahim, the suicide bomber and alleged mastermind of the atrocity that killed 359 people.

Security services are understood to be examining his links to Britain after a source confirmed he had travelled to the UK frequently in recent years. Ibrahim (33) blew himself up at the Cinnamon Grand hotel restaurant just before 9am local time on Easter Sunday.

Ibrahim's younger brother Ilham also killed himself when he detonated a suicide bomb at the Shangri-La hotel, also in the capital Colombo, at almost exactly the same time. Their attacks claimed the lives of at least 41 foreigners, including all eight British victims - three of them children.

As police raided their mansion in an exclusive part of Colombo hours later, Ilham's pregnant wife Fatima also detonated a bomb, killing herself, her three children and three officers.

The brothers belonged to one of the wealthiest Muslim families in the capital. Their father is Mohamed Ibrahim, a prominent businessman who runs Colombo-based Ishana Exports, described on its website as the "largest exporter of spices from Sri Lanka since 2006".

Devastation: Kumari Fernando, who lost her husband and two children in the bombings, at a mass burial yesterday. Photo: Thomas Peter/Reuters
Devastation: Kumari Fernando, who lost her husband and two children in the bombings, at a mass burial yesterday. Photo: Thomas Peter/Reuters

The Ibrahim family had lived there for decades, neighbours said, with the father also being a leading light of the left-wing JVP party. He was led away by police for questioning yesterday.

Documents show that Inshaf acted as export director at his father's spice firm, but also ran a copper factory. In 2016 he was pictured accepting a Presidential Export Award alongside his father at a ceremony in Colombo.

Neighbours said he was married to the daughter of a wealthy jeweller, drove upmarket cars and wore Western fashions. Inshaf was described as the business brains, while Ilham was said to be more aloof, awkward and more overtly religious.

A source at the spice firm told 'The Telegraph' that Inshaf had been "totally normal" until around three years ago, when he began to fall under the influence of his younger brother.

He then began arguing with less devout Muslim workers about their choice of dress.

"Recently he got so close to Ilham and became so deeply religious," the source said. "Once he got so close to his brother he changed.

"His language became very isolating towards Muslims who lead a normal life. Ilham is one of the directors of the business but later he stayed at home.

"He was the one who brainwashed Inshaf and took him to their group."

The source added that Inshaf had travelled widely in recent years, including to Britain. Indian intelligence sources told the First Post news website that a third son, Ijas (30) was also reportedly asked about the attack.

Inshaf reportedly told his wife he was flying to Zambia on business on Friday, adding that she should "be strong". Footage from the Cinnamon Grand emerged yesterday of Inshaf nervously shuffling back and forth before deciding to blow himself up.

'The Telegraph' yesterday tracked down the bomb factory to a rented bungalow on the outskirts of Colombo. Police told how they had found 240 empty packets of quarter-inch ball bearings, which had been used to pack the bombs to maximise the carnage, as well as mobile phones and vehicle licence plates.

At least four of the bombers had rented the safe house in the quiet Sarikkamulla suburb south of Colombo in the weeks before the blasts. Riyaz Mohammad, a distribution manager at a paint firm, said he had last seen the group's white Suzuki minivan drive off from the safe house only 90 minutes before the blasts.

When police showed him photographs of the bombers, he was able to confirm the Negombo church attacker had stayed at the house.

Irish Independent

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