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Indian intelligence monitored software engineer linked to Easter bombers three years ago

A Sri Lankan software engineer suspected to have provided technical and logistical assistance to the Easter Sunday suicide bombers had been monitored by Indian intelligence agencies three years ago, Reuters reported today.

Four sources in Sri Lankan investigating agencies had told the news agency that Aadhil Ameez, a 24-year-old, was the link between two groups that carried out the attacks on churches and hotels on 21 April that killed more than 250 people and wounded hundreds more.

Aadhil has been arrested and is in police custody, Reuters quoted the sources as saying, adding that his arrest had yet to be made public. Police Spokesman SP Ruwan Gunasekera had later confirmed to the news agency that Aadhil was taken into custody on 25 April, four days after the attacks, but had declined to elaborate.

According to Aadhil’s LinkedIn profile, he was a senior engineer/programmer/web designer with a masters degree in computer science and a bachelors in political science from UK universities.

Reuters reported that the suspect has yet to be represented by a lawyer and, under the new emergency laws imposed after the attacks, he can be held indefinitely.

Aadhil’s father has denied any connection to the attack and said the “allegations are lies”.

The Indian investigators told Reuters they had been monitoring Aadhil since 2016 and named him in two charge sheets filed in Indian courts against suspected Islamic State operatives as being one of their contacts.

According to one of the charge sheets, reviewed by Reuters, he showed up in Facebook, WhatsApp and Telegram chats with two of the suspects who are on trial for plotting an attack on a synagogue in the western city of Ahmedabad.

The two suspects Ubed Ahmad Mirza, a lawyer, and Stimberwala Mohamed Kasim, a hospital technician, were accused of planning “lone-wolf” attacks, according to the charge sheet – allegations rejected by lawyers for both men.

Aadhil has also been named in another charge sheet filed in court by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for providing propaganda and online material to three Indians arrested in early 2016 for promoting Islamic State.

According to Reuters, the three men, Sheikh Azhar ul-Islam, Adnan Hassan and Mohammed Rafiq Sadique Shaikh are on trial in a special Delhi court facing charges of criminal conspiracy to propagate the ideology of Islamic State, recruit, raise funds and facilitate the travel of people to Syria.

Sheikh Mohammad Munawar, a cousin of ul-Islam, told Reuters that the charges were fabricated and that he had no criminal record ever.

Reuters, according to its report, had been unable to determine when the Indians informed Sri Lankan authorities of the surveillance. The two officials had declined to say whether they continued to keep Aadhil under surveillance after they completed investigation of the cases in India.

Indian intelligence services warned Sri Lankan authorities of a possible attack at least three times in April alone, officials have said.

Last week, police raided IT firm Virtusa, where Aadhil had interned in 2013, according to his profile. One current employee has been detained for questioning in connection with the attacks, police say, but no other details have been provided.

He was the main technology person for them, one of the CID sources involved in the investigation had told Reuters. The source said Aadhil was helped in this by Abdul Latheef Mohamed Jameel, one of the eight suicide bombers who detonated his explosives at a guesthouse after failing to do so at the Taj Samudra hotel in Colombo.