Saudi Arabia is learnt to have arrested Maulana Rila, brother-in-law of the Islamic State-inspired Shangri-La hotel bomber Zahran Hashim, and a colleague of his, who just goes by the name Shahnawaj, last week on the basis of inputs from Indian intelligence. Hashim was the leader of National Towheed Jama’at and chief radicalised of the hardline Salafi group responsible for the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka. India is believed to have provided several warnings on the attacks, including time- and location-specific details, which were ignored by Sri Lanka.
Officers in Indian security agencies say they are already in touch with their Saudi Arabian counterparts to find out on any links between the IS cadres responsible for the Sri Lanka attacks and Kasargode (Kerala)-Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu) module in India, with Colombo on the verge of sending a team to Saudi Arabia.
After the Easter Day bombing, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale is believed to have called up the top-brass of the Tata-owned Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL) to ask them to install security scanners and metal detectors at their three properties in Sri Lanka because all the suicide bombers are still not accounted for. The IHCL owned Taj Samudra had a lucky escape on April 21 as the UK educated suicide bomber Abdul Latif Mohammed Jamil entered the hotel but could not trigger the device. He later died in a blast at the Tropical Inn in Dehiwala suburb with a couple also losing their lives in the blast.
For the record, Indian intelligence alerted Sri Lankan police and security agencies on April 4, 10, 16 (the day the device was tested in a motorcycle), 20 and two hours before the multiple suicide bombings on April 21, the last with the names of three churches under imminent bombing threat.
The IS inspired bombings in Sri Lanka have raised serious concerns over the spread of this Islamic group in India through the virtual space as the rabid group hardly holds any territory in Syria or Iraq. IS handlers are radicalising cadres in India through cyber-identities such as Yusuf al Hindi/ Abu Hurairah (used by Indian Mujahideen absconder Shafi Armar), Sameer Ali (used by Shajeer Mangalassery of Islamic State in Khorasan Province, killed in Afghanistan), Gold Dinar (used by Abdul Rashid Abdulla, main motivator of radicals from Kerala in ISKP and Babyboy111/Snickers021/Anwer (used by Ashfaq Majeed, who hails from Karala and belonging to ISKP). Since the rise of IS in 2014, around 115 Indian nationals have been radicalised and reached various conflict zones where the group held sway.
Around 81 reached Syria, Iraq and Libya, another 34 reached Nangarhar province of Afghanistan largely. From this original group of 115, 24 died fighting in Syria and Iraq and 11 lost their lives in Afghanistan. In addition to this 35 Indians were deported to India. Around 126 individuals are under the scanner of law enforcement agencies in India with 8 Indian nationals under arrest for their affiliations in other countries. So far nine persons affiliated to Islamic State, J&K have died in encounters in the state with security forces with eight of them hailing from Valley.