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No evidence Sri Lankans arrested in India linked to ISIS: Foreign Minister

The Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad had claimed that they arrested four Sri Lankans with links to ISIS at Ahmedabad airport.
Last Updated : 14 June 2024, 17:12 IST

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Colombo: Foreign Minister Ali Sabry on Friday said there is no evidence to back claims that the four Sri Lankans arrested in India last month are linked to ISIS and were believed to be linked to drug smuggling.

The Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad had claimed that they arrested four Sri Lankans with links to ISIS at Ahmedabad airport. The four men had boarded an Indigo flight from Colombo to Chennai on May 19, they said.

Earlier on May 31, the Criminal Investigation Department of Sri Lankan police arrested in Colombo one person Pushparaja Osman, 46, who they called the suspected handler of the four arrested in India.

However, on Friday, Minister Sabry denied any of the Sri Lankan nationals arrested in India had any link with the terror organisation.

“There is no evidence to back up claims that the four Sri Lankans arrested in India are linked to ISIS. The four (Sri Lankans) are believed to be linked to drug smuggling and not terrorism,” Sabry told a press conference here.

After Osman’s arrest, commenting on the investigations so far, police spokesman Nihal Thalduwa had said that police were unable yet to verify that the four are linked to ISIS.

“If they promoted the ISIS ideology in Sri Lanka is yet to be established,” he had said.

Last month, the Sri Lankan authorities launched a high-powered operation to investigate the four Sri Lankans arrested in Gujarat.

The authorities say they would take no chances with possible ISIS activities on the island after the 2019 Easter Sunday attack which killed over 270 people, including 11 Indians.

Among the arrested individuals in Gujarat, Mohammed Nusrat is a businessman involved in importing telecommunication devices and electrical equipment from countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, and Dubai.

Mohammad Nafran has been identified as the son of the first wife of Niyas Naufer aka 'Potta Naufer,' the notorious underworld criminal who was sentenced to death for killing High Court Judge Sarath Ambepitiya.

Of the other two Sri Lankans arrested, Mohammad Faris had worked as a 'Nattami' or cart puller in Pettah and was arrested by the Colombo Crimes Division on March 11, 2023, and November 1 of the same year.

On May 21, his close associate Hameed Amir was arrested by the Terrorist Investigations Division. Mohammad Faris left for Chennai, India on May 19.

The other suspect is Mohammad Rashdeen, a three-wheeler driver. Security forces suspect that he is linked to trafficking crystal meth or ICE.

On September 16, 2022, Rashdeen was arrested by the Foreshore Police and was later released on bail.

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Published 14 June 2024, 17:12 IST

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