Decrypting Easter Attack Secrets: Roles of Abu Hind, Podi Saharan and Jameel – Part One
Posted on September 15th, 2023

by a special correspondent Courtesy Ceylon Today

In recent years, if there’s been an event that has sent shockwaves through our nation, akin to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is undeniably the Easter attack. Regrettably, many individuals have exploited this tragedy for political gain, seemingly oblivious to the harrowing truth that lies beneath. Sri Lanka finds itself ensnared in an ignorance, akin to a parasitic infestation, which not only affords legal shelter but also fosters an environment where extremists can thrive and sow discord.

His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, mere hours after the attack, hinted at a Western conspiracy as the cause. Initially, there were indirect insinuations linking the United States to this heinous act. The subsequent fluctuation in Cardinal’s statements, coupled with his conspicuous absence from the Kochchikade Church service on the morning of the attack, cast an indelible shadow of doubt.

Nevertheless, he deserves credit for taking constructive steps to quell the ensuing religious turmoil. However, his subsequent declarations have been marred by inconsistencies and apparent political agendas steeped in animosity. This conduct has cast a demeaning pall over the entire process. Recently, after a brief hiatus due to health concerns, Cardinal Ranjith once again addressed the Easter attack, asserting it to be a power-seeking conspiracy orchestrated by specific individuals in Sri Lanka. Central to his discourse was the figure of Abu Hind.

What is the avatar named, Abu Hind?

Before delving into the broader complexities surrounding this attack, it is imperative to address the web of misinformation that has sprung up around a figure named Abu Hind. Abu Hind has been thrust back into the limelight due to remarks made by an individual, who previously held the position of the officer in charge in one of the Police stations’traffic division. He portrayed Abu Hind as a saviour, striving to liberate the Sri Lanka Police from political manipulation.

The narratives of such individuals, aspiring to gain social media stardom, while advocating for Sri Lanka’s transformation from foreign shores, have taken an unusual turn. Various social groups, including the Catholic Church, are spearheading essential campaigns. These endeavours might appear humorous, but they harbour sinister intentions. His professional background lies firmly within the traffic division of the Police, with nary an experience in criminal investigations. Much of his rhetoric relies on assorted statements made by various parties, serving diverse ulterior motives, rather than on factual data.

The world cannot unearth truths if it dogmatically accepts ideologies that align with its preconceptions. The pursuit of truth demands rigorous scrutiny grounded in tangible evidence. It is this exact principle that should guide our examination of Abu Hind’s character.

India, acutely aware of the threat posed by Islamic State adherents, has taken swift action to investigate and monitor such elements. Their vigilance extends beyond their own borders to neighbouring nations, including Sri Lanka, which occupies a pivotal position in this context. Indian security forces understand all too well the perils that stem from the emergence of extremist organisations within Sri Lanka, having gleaned hard-earned lessons from their own history.

Especially in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, orchestrated by Islamist extremists, both Sri Lanka and India recognised the direct influence of extremist forces operating in Indian States like Kerala and Tamil Nadu, and Sri Lanka. When these extremist entities faced constraints in Kerala, they sought fertile ground in Sri Lanka. Consequently, post-2015, we witnessed the proliferation of madrasa schools and various voluntary organisations disseminating extremist ideologies. Dealing with this issue necessitates more than mere crackdowns on illicit activities; it demands copious time, expertise, resources, and unwavering effort.

In early 2018, India’s intelligence agencies conjured up Abu Hind as a technical persona or avatar to engage with those influenced by the terrorist ideology of the Islamic State when it gained traction in Sri Lanka. Think of it as operating a fabricated social media account.

The creation of such avatars forms a key component of global intelligence agencies’ ongoing strategies. They play a pivotal role in surveilling terrorist groups, identifying their networks, and assessing the threats they pose. Terrorist organisations leverage tools, including social media, for propaganda, recruitment and the development of weaponry such as bombs and suicide vests. These avatars are essential in understanding and countering these activities, as they engage with the ideology at its core.

Countless examples and academic studies attest to this practice. Numerous misrepresentations surrounding Abu Hind have arisen due to significant errors deliberated by certain officials during their investigation of the Easter terror attacks. These officials prioritised personal vendettas over factual inquiry. Consequently, the reports mistakenly perceived the specter of Abu Hind none other than the incumbent head of State intelligence, who was then attending India’s National Defence College in New Delhi. This assertion is unequivocally untrue.

Abu Hind had posed as an Indian leader of the Islamic State and successfully gathered information about Zaharan and others. This narrative is corroborated by the statements of Zaharan and his wife, Hadiya. Zaharan ardently believed that Abu Hind would orchestrate a series of attacks across India following his own suicide mission.

The Indian intelligence services, in collaboration with their Sri Lankan counterparts, exchange vital intelligence data gathered through the Abu Hind avatar. This intricate and sensitive cooperation is underscored by the gravity of what’s at stake. We must all bear in mind that unveiling the individuals engaged in such operations represents the gravest misfortune a nation can face. The Easter attack, masterminded by terrorists led by Zaharan, is not the last threat our country may encounter. Our history painfully reminds us that similar or varied attacks could occur in the future. Hence, when addressing such sensitive matters, extreme care and an understanding of the profound realities surrounding these events are imperative.

Truth behind Sonic Sonic and Podi Saharan

In this context, it is crucial to delve into the second aspect of this incident — namely, the enigmatic figure of ‘Podi Saharan’. The earliest officially documented information about Podi Saharan originates from a Middle Eastern nation where he was then residing. What bears paramount importance is the official confirmation of this intelligence concerning Podi Saharan. Consequently, the then director of the State Intelligence Service, initiated a dossier at the outset of 2019 to compile information received and obtained by an intelligence officer. This dossier bore the codename ‘Sonic Sonic,’ mirroring the pseudonym of the intelligence officer involved. This practice is a fundamental function of any intelligence department, which involves gathering information about a suspect or an individual, documenting it, and creating dedicated files for potential future investigations.

Born on 10 May 1998, Podi Saharan, also known as Fazrul Rahman Mohammed Saharan, hailed from the Matale region and was a former student of a prestigious school in the Kandy area. As previously mentioned, in February 2019, the Sri Lankan State Intelligence Service received its first official notification about this individual from a foreign intelligence agency. Consequently, the ‘Sonic Sonic’ files were initiated.

In line with this development, the Sri Lankan Government appointed an intelligence officer, from the Intelligence Service, to engage with Mohammad Saharan, extracting extensive details about him for the dossier. The compiled information was later subjected to intelligence analysis, transforming it into actionable intelligence. According to this intelligence, authorities were able to confirm that Mohammad Saharan had been in communication with Zaharan’s group, responsible for the Easter Sunday attack. He ardently adhered to the ideology of the Islamic State and maintained connections with the organisation’s communication networks. His arrival in Sri Lanka on 15 April 2019, coincided with the timing of the attack. A few days after the attack, Matale Police, with the assistance of the State Intelligence Service, apprehended him. Crucially, it was Mohammad Saharan who provided accurate information about the group’s readiness for a second attack after the Easter incident. Additionally, he was responsible for disseminating the video clip related to the first attack through media channels affiliated with the Islamic State terrorists.

It is evident that ‘Sonic Sonic’ serves as the codename for the dossier containing information about Mohammad Saharan, along with the designation for the intelligence officer responsible for managing the file. The State Intelligence Service officer, who communicated with Mohammad Saharan to compile the dossier, meticulously furnished all information, including Telegram app conversations, to the Criminal Investigation Department for further scrutiny. Unfortunately, the actions of those unfamiliar with this subject matter, along with political agendas at the time, inadvertently revealed the successful tactics that intelligence agencies relied upon. It is a national tragedy that even intellectual figures like Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith failed to grasp the gravity and sensitivity of these events.

Therefore, it is of utmost importance to delve into the third aspect — the involvement of an individual named Jameel with intelligence agencies. This case study carries significant weight. Born on 18 December 1982, Abdul Latif Jameel Mohammed hailed from an upper-middle-class family and received his education at a renowned school in Kandy. Following his schooling, he pursued employment in Australia but became radicalised there. Subsequently, in 2013, he returned to Sri Lanka and, within a few weeks, gathered a group of individuals sympathetic to the Islamic State terrorist organisation’s ideology, establishing the Pearl of Wisdom.

Jameel a bomber

After a failed attempt to travel to Syria via Turkey on 12 November 2012, he promptly returned to Sri Lanka. Upon his return, he united members of the previously established organisation and launched the Jama’ate Millate Ibrahim, an organisation aimed at propagating the activities of the Islamic State terrorist organisation and recruiting personnel. On 14 October 2016, he journeyed to Kalmunai, Batticaloa to attend the wedding of his organisation member, Mohammad Husni, where he crossed paths with Zaharan.

The initial intelligence report concerning Jameel’s extremist tendencies was forwarded to the Criminal Investigation Department on 20 July 2015, initiating further inquiry. Subsequently, the State Intelligence Service submitted four additional written reports requesting a thorough investigation into this individual. According to the pertinent records, Jameel was summoned to the Terrorism Investigation Division on 12 April 2018, yet he was released after providing a minor statement. Tragically, Jameel carried out a bombing in Dehiwala and perished.

Following the Easter attack, the State Intelligence Service promptly initiated a search for suspects and their whereabouts, a pursuit informed by years of investigation and data collection. While Jameel’s location was unveiled, no concrete evidence has emerged connecting him directly or indirectly with intelligence agencies.

It is crucial to highlight an important aspect here — most of the terrorists who perished in this series of suicide attacks were economically affluent individuals hailing from the upper-middle class, some even educated abroad. Is it imaginable that individuals from a group radicalised by such religious ideologies would willingly sacrifice themselves to install a person who is entirely unrelated to their beliefs as the leader of a State?

Now that we have laid out the essential facts to comprehend the narratives of Abu Hind, Podi Saharan, and Jameel, all of which are rooted in three central myths circulating within society regarding the Easter terror attack, it’s essential to underscore that a comprehensive understanding of these events cannot be forged through preconceived notions. Furthermore, these events should not be exploited to settle professional or personal grievances with others.

Everyone possesses the right to seek the truth behind any incident. However, it is not only a transgression to manipulate these events to align with personal narratives and political ideologies, but it also stands in stark violation of fundamental human moral values and principles. The interpretations and misuse of facts surrounding this terrorist attack, by many individuals, aiming to further their personal agendas rather than ensuring justice for the victims, inflict irreparable harm upon the sensitive domains of a nation’s security, and this is deeply concerning.

With these foundational facts in mind, let’s turn our attention to the actions of Azad Maulana, formerly the press secretary of Sivaneshthurai Chandrakanthan, also known as Pillayan, the leader of the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal Party and the former Chief Minister of the Eastern Province. Azad Maulana’s narrative unfolds uniquely, as he fled the country along with his family, solely to seek asylum in the UK, citing a perceived threat to his personal safety as the driving force.

Maulana’s story sets itself apart from that of Jameel or Podi Saharan. How did Azad Maulana, an individual with no substantial assets upon affiliating with the Pillayans, amass considerable wealth within a few short years? How did he accumulate nearly 70 million rupees in only one of his personal bank accounts, as he prepared to leave the country? It becomes imperative, in the next part of this series, to scrutinise the glaring falsehoods concealed beneath his claims of truth.

To Be Continued…

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