Moulvi Zahran Hashim and Shangri-La Hotel blast: Moulvi Zahran Hashim or Moulavi Zahran Hashim is said to be one of the suicide bombers behind the attack on the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo on April 21, 2019, reports said. An imam and preacher by profession, Zahran Hashim is featured in several National Thowheeth Jamaath (NTJ) YouTube lectures online. His extremist lectures can also be seen on YouTube. Hashim could be a member of the radical Islamic group NTJ. The Sri Lankan Police and investigative agencies arrested six NTJ members from their hideouts in Colombo for their alleged involvement in the multiple blasts that killed at least 290 people and injured 500 others on Sunday, April 21, 2019.
The involvement of a suicide bomber in the attacks at the Shangri La Hotel and the Batticaloa Church could not be denied since the death toll was so high. The impact of the bomb was so high that the roof of the Batticaloa Church was completely destroyed and all the window panes were shattered. Photographs of the blasts that were released within minutes after the attacks, indicate that RDX could have been used in the attacks that destroyed three churches and three luxury hotels in Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa on Sunday.
Sri Lanka witnessed a spike in jihadi activity since 2017. It may also be recalled that a postgraduate student from Sri Lanka, Mohammad Nizamdeen, was charged with ISIS-affiliated terror-related offence in Australia.
Nizamdeen is the nephew of MP Faiszer Mustapha and was accused of being part of a plot to assassinate an Australian politician. Faiszer Mustapha was a cabinet minister in the Sri Lankan government.
In 2016, the Sri Lankan Parliament was informed about the rise of the international terrorist organisation Islamic State (ISIS) in the island nation after 32 Muslims from elite families joined it, reports said. And the jihadi activists got a boost after scores of Sri Lankan ISIS terrorists had returned from Syria in 2016, they added.