A month after deadly terror attacks in Sri Lanka killed over 250 Christians celebrating Easter, investigators have revealed that the bombs used in the attack show the attackers had direct contact with Islamic State terrorists.
The backpack bombs detonated in three churches and three hotels across Sri Lanka on April 21 were constructed by local jihadists from the National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ) group, but utilized the expertise of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists, investigators told AFP.
The link was established after the probe found triacetone triperoxide, or TATP, present at the attack sites. Due to its extreme volatility, IS militants call the explosive, which can be produced from readily available ingredients, the “Mother of Satan.”
The group had easy access to chemicals and fertilizers to get the raw materials to make TATP. They would have had a face-to-face meeting to transfer this technology. This is not something you can do by watching a YouTube video.
The substance was used in several attacks claimed by IS, including the 2015 bombings in Paris and the 2017 attack in Brussels.
While it is evident that IS played a role in preparing the bomb for the attack in Sri Lanka, investigators still want to know just how deep the ties go. The Sri Lankan who led the Easter attacks, Zahran Hashim, traveled to India before becoming a suicide bomber. He also appeared in the IS video that claimed responsibility for the bloodshed.
The probe has also confirmed that 220 pounds of raw TATP were seized in January, indicating that the government had even more warning signs than they previously let on. Sri Lankan security agencies had been warned by Indian and US intelligence about possible terrorist acts against churches, but apparently failed to act on the information.