Saudi Arabia Extradites Five Sri Lankans Linked to Easter Sunday Attacks

An image grab from a press release issued on April 23, 2019 by Islamic State’s propaganda agency Amaq, said to show eight men it said carried out a string of deadly suicide bomb blasts on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka. Photo: AFP

Five suspects were taken into custody in the Saudi city of Jeddah and then extradited back to Sri Lanka.

Five Sri Lankans wanted in connection with the Easter bombings that killed 258 people were arrested in Saudi Arabia and extradited Friday, police and Interpol said.“One of the alleged ringleaders in the April 21 bomb attacks in Sri Lanka has been arrested following the publication of an Interpol red notice,” the international police organization, based in the French city of Lyon, said in a statement on the ‘red notice’.

A “red notice” is a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action.

Interpol identified the alleged ringleader as Mohamed Milhan, a senior leader of the National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ) extremist group which was held responsible for the April 21 bombings.

The “29-year-old Sri Lankan national, wanted on charges including terrorism and murder, was today extradited to Sri Lanka, along with four other suspects, following their arrest in the Middle East”, the statement said. Sri Lankan police said earlier the five suspects were taken into custody in the Saudi city of Jeddah and then extradited back to Sri Lanka.

Interpol secretary general Juergen Stock said “the arrest and extradition of one of the key suspects in the Sri Lanka bomb attacks is an important step in the ongoing investigation”. It is the second time suspects have been arrested abroad in connection with the attacks against three churches and three luxury hotels in the country that were claimed by Islamic State. New Sri Lanka church attacks planned, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith reveals after receiving ‘foreign information’

Last month, army chief Mahesh Senanayake said two suspects were arrested in Qatar and Saudi Arabia. He did not reveal the nationalities of the suspects, but official sources said they were Sri Lankans.

Sri Lankan authorities have arrested just over 100 people said to be linked to the NTJ and its leader Hashim who was one of two suicide bombers who attacked the Shangri-La hotel in Colombo.

Sri Lanka has been under a state of emergency since the attacks which also left 45 foreign nationals dead and wounded nearly 500 people.

President Maithripala Sirisena, who is also the minister of defense and law and order, sacked his intelligence chief, secured the resignation of the defense secretary and suspended the police chief after blaming them for the attacks.

They, in turn, have said Sirisena ignored security protocols and should take the blame for major lapses that allowed the suicide attacks.

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