Burma

Sri Lankan in Myanmar with Suspected Ties to Easter Bombings

By The Irrawaddy 23 May 2019

YANGON—Myanmar police are looking for a Sri Lankan man believed to have connections with those involved in a series of suicide bombings that killed at least 250 people in Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa in April.

On Wednesday, the Myanmar Tourist Police asked the country’s Hotel and Tourism Department to report if Abdul Salam Irshad Mohmood, 39, had registered at hotels or guesthouses in the country. In Myanmar, hotels and guesthouses are operated on a license approved by the department.

According to a letter sent out by the department to hotels and guesthouses, the suspected Sri Lankan man arrived Yangon on a tourist visa in January 2018.

“It is found that he hasn’t departed from Yangon International Airport yet and has over stayed [his tourist visa] for one year and two months,” the notice says.

It is not clear whether Sri Lankan authorities tipped off the Myanmar government with the information that the suspect is in Myanmar.

An official from the Myanmar Tourist Police told The Irrawaddy they have sent the official notice about the man to all their branches across the country.

“The case is still under investigation. Police forces from aviation, tourism and Yangon are handling it,” said he under condition of anonymity as he is not authorized to talk to the media.

Myanmar’s Foreign Affairs Ministry permanent secretary U Myint Thu said on Thursday that the Sri Lankan man has been listed as a serious cause for attention.

In the wake of the Easter Sunday bombings, Sri Lankan authorities have said all suspected plotters and those directly linked to the attacks have either been arrested or are dead. They said the bombings were believed to have been carried out by two little-known local Islamist groups, the National Tawheed Jamaath (NTJ) and Jamathei Millathu Ibrahim (JMI). Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Myanmar has long been warned about terror attacks by foreign supporters of Islamic State (IS) recruited from Southeast Asian networks in support of the persecuted Muslim Rohingya. In 2017, Malaysia’s counter terrorism force detained a suspected IS follower planning to head to Myanmar to perform jihad, to fight against the Myanmar government on behalf of the Rohingya in Rakhine State.

Early this month, Malaysia arrested four men for plotting assassinations and large-scale terror attacks in the Klang Valley. One of the suspects, a 20-year old Rohingya man admitted to supporting the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a Rohingya militant group denounced as a terrorist organization by the Myanmar government, and had planned to attack the Myanmar embassy in Kuala Lumpur and continue his jihad in Rakhine, according to Abdul Hamid, the Inspector General of Malaysian Police Force.

On Wednesday, the deputy minister of Myanmar’s Home Affairs Ministry inspected Yangon International Airport for security measures following the alert sent by Malaysian police.

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