The Justice Department, Central District of California announced Jan. 8, 2021, that three Sri Lankan citizens, Mohamed Naufar, Mohamed Anwar Mohamed Riskan, and Ahamed Milhan Hayathu Moahmed have been charged with terrorism offenses, including conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization (ISIS).
According to the Justice Department, the men were part of a group of ISIS supporters that called itself “ISIS in Sri Lanka” which was allegedly responsible for the 2019 Easter attacks in Sri Lanka that killed 268 people, including five U.S. citizens, and injured over 500 others.
According to the details in the complaint given in the press release, Naufar, the “second emir” for the group of ISIS supporters that called itself “ISIS in Sri Lanka,” allegedly led the group’s propaganda efforts, recruited others to join ISIS, and led a series of multi-day military-type trainings;
Riskan allegedly helped manufacture the IEDs used in the Easter Attacks; and
Moahmed allegedly executed a police officer in order to obtain the officer’s firearm, shot a suspected informant, and scouted a location for a separate terrorist attack.
All three defendants are charged with conspiring to provide, providing, and attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. Additionally, Naufar and Moahmed are charged with aiding and abetting the receipt of military-type training from ISIS, the press release said.
The complaint outlines the defendants’ roles in the conspiracy and the events that led to near-simultaneous suicide bombings in the Sri Lankan cities of Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa on April 21, 2019. One of the U.S. citizens killed was a Department of Commerce employee who had traveled to Sri Lanka on official business.
Two days after the attacks, ISIS claimed credit for the terrorist acts, attributing the murders to “Islamic State fighters.” In late April 2019, the then-leader of ISIS praised the attackers for what he called a retaliation against “the West” for defeating ISIS the prior month in Baghuz, Syria, the press release said.
The defendants named in the complaint, along with other suspects linked to the attacks, currently are detained in Sri Lanka, where a criminal investigation is ongoing, the Justice Department press release said.