COLOMBO: For years, Sri Lanka’s Muslim community warned authorities about a firebrand cleric. Now it seems Zahran Hashim may have played a key role in one of the worst attacks in the country’s history.
A video released by the Islamic State group after it claimed responsibility for bombs that killed 359 people, appears to prominently feature Hashim.The round-faced cleric is the only one of the eight figures whose face is uncovered.
Dressed in a black tunic and headscarf, and carrying a rifle, Hashim is seen in the IS video leading seven people in a pledge of allegiance to the group’s chief Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.
The other seven all wear the same black tunics but their faces are obscured by black-and-white chequered scarves. Sri Lanka’s government has accused Hashim indirectly, saying the Islamist group he was believed to lead—the National Thowheeth Jama’ath—carried out the attacks.