Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe says investigators of Easter Sunday attack are aware of some "militancy going on in Australia" and believe one of the attackers may have been radicalised while studying in the country.
Stating for 'The Guardian', Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe added that Abdul Lathief Jameel Mohammed, who undertook a postgraduate degree at Melbourne's Swinburne University in 2009 and left the country in 2013, appeared to have been influenced by extremist ideology during the period.
"That's how the family feel, we know there is some militancy going on in Australia among the Muslims. Australia has been out there fighting [in the war on terror]" the Prime Minister said.
The Prime Minister also said that Abdul Lathief Jameel Mohammed, who also studied in the UK, had intentions to detonate a bomb in Taj Samudra hotel parallel to the attacks on Cinnamon Grand and Shangri La hotels.
However, according to Mr. Wickremesinghe, the explosives were failed to be activated, and he retreated to a guesthouse nearby his neighbourhood in Dehiwala area. The Prime Minister went on to say that Mohammed attempted to repair the explosive device, accidentally detonating it, killing him, along with two others.
“He was trying to fix it and the whole thing exploded”, Mr. Wickremesinghe said.
Mohammed's sister Samsul Hidaya commented in an interview earlier last week that her brother had returned from Australia "a different man." According to her proclamation, his brother wore a long beard and lost his sense of humour, and appeared serious and withdrawn and would not even smile at anyone he did not know.
"At first, he started quoting scripture and I would say OK, you're right, but then the conversation got deeper and deeper into religion and I couldn't follow what he was saying any longer," Hidaya said, adding that she and her brother had these frequent arguments about religion.
According to Hidaya, he had become very angry and acted hysterically and shouted at their male relatives to trim beard, and it lead her into a point where she felt was going out of hand.
According to reports, 36-year-old Mohammed had been one of the subjects of terrorism investigation by the Australian police based on evidence linking to the IS recruiter Neil Prakash.
The pair is not believed ever to have met but there was at the minimum an online link between them, reports said.
Prakash, 27, was a prominent figure in ISIS propaganda videos, in which urges Muslims to travel to Syria and Iraq to join the purported caliphate. Prakash’s Australian citizenship was revoked in December. He is in a Turkish prison and has been charged with terrorism offences.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe added that authorities were investigating the possibility that the terrorist cell responsible for the Easter Sunday attacks may have expected a second wave of people to come forward to become suicide bombers.
He emphasized that the investigators were trying to understand as to why the ISIS-linked terrorist cell that kill many innocent civilians had such a large quantity of explosives they were yet to use, some of which had been dumped in safe houses across the country.
“Were they keeping [the explosives] for numbers to build up? Maybe this [the Easter Sunday attacks] would spark off other people joining the cause. There would have been people to give them explosives,” the Prime Minister added.
(Source - The Guardian)