US charges three Sri Lankans for Easter Sunday Attacks
The US Justice Department announced that three Sri Lankan citizens have been charged with terrorism offenses, including conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization (ISIS).
They were part of a group of ISIS supporters which called itself “ISIS in Sri Lanka.” That group is responsible for the 2019 Easter attacks in the South Asian nation of Sri Lanka, which killed 268 people, including five U.S. citizens, and injured over 500 others.
The men were identified as Mohamed Naufar, the “second emir” for the group of ISIS supporters that called itself “ISIS in Sri Lanka,” who allegedly led the group’s propaganda efforts, recruited others to join ISIS, and led a series of multi-day military-type trainings; Mohamed Anwar Mohamed Riskan, who allegedly helped manufacture the IEDs used in the Easter Attacks; and Ahamed Milhan Hayathu Moahmed, who 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.
The defendants are charged with conspiring to provide, providing, and attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. Additionally, Naufar and Milhan are charged with aiding and abetting the receipt of military-type training from ISIS.
“ISIS’s Easter attacks in Sri Lanka killed 268 people, including five Americans, many while they worshiped,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers. “Today, we charge these defendants with bearing their share of the responsibility for these deaths. According to these charges, the defendants were committed supporters of ISIS, recruited others to ISIS’s violent cause, purchased materials for and made IEDs, helped to prepare and trained others who participated in the attacks, and murdered in the name of this deadly foreign terrorist organization. They are in custody in Sri Lanka. We fully support the Sri Lankan investigation and prosecution of these terrorists and will continue to work with the authorities there to pursue our shared goal of holding these defendants accountable for their crimes. At the same time, these charges reflect that the U.S. justice system remains a powerful tool to bring to bear against those who harm our citizens abroad. We will continue to pursue justice for the victims of these heinous attacks and for all American victims of terrorism.”
According to the complaint, the three charged defendants and others involved in the conspiracy – including eight terrorists who died in the suicide bombings – conspired to provide, provided, and attempted to provide material support, including services and personnel, to ISIS through various actions, including: (1) creating, maintaining, and serving as members of a group of ISIS supporters in Sri Lanka devoted to ISIS, its ideology, and to planning and encouraging violent attacks to advance ISIS’s goals; (2) obtaining explosive materials and IED components; (3) manufacturing and testing IEDs, including the types of IEDs ultimately used in the attack; (4) recruiting other ISIS in Sri Lanka members; (5) using ISIS-created training materials to instruct and train the attackers and their co-conspirators in the use of firearms and explosives; (6) procuring safe houses for the group to prepare for attacks in the name of ISIS, including the Easter Attacks, while avoiding law enforcement detection; (7) following ISIS directives to use specific end-to-end encrypted messaging applications to conceal the criminal conspiracy; (8) murdering two Sri Lankan police offers to obtain the officers’ firearms; and (9) shooting a suspected police informant.