Sri Lanka attacks plotters have links to Muslim Brotherhood leader Qaradawi

Indian extremist cleric, who swore allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi in 2014, has ties with Qatar, Turkey.

LONDON – Images, tweets and websites have given new leads on the relations between Muslim Brotherhood leader Yusuf Al-Qaradawi and Sri Lanka recent atrocities plotters.

Pictures distributed in social media platform show the two main perpetrators accused of being behind the attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka, posing with Qaradawi.

Sri Lankan authorities have blamed a local extremist group, National Towheed Jamaat, whose leader, alternately named Mohammed Zahran or Zahran Hashmi, became known to Muslim leaders three years ago for his incendiary online speeches, for the deadly attacks in the country.

Junior defence minister Ruwan Wijewardene said the attackers had broken away from National Towheed Jamaat and another group, which he identified only as "JMI."

The attacks Easter Sunday mainly at churches and hotels killed at least 359 people and wounded 500 more, the government said Wednesday. Most were Sri Lankan but the Foreign Ministry has confirmed 36 foreigners died.

According to Egypt’s fatwa monitoring observatory at Dar al-Iftaa, the Islamic State group sought to claim the attacks by issuing a "video" of Zahran Hashim and a group of masked men swearing allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.

The observatory said that the video did not show the date of allegiance, but showed the face of Zahran Hashmi, in an indication of Hashmi’s direct involvement in the attacks.

It said that IS claim of the attacks was different from the strategy followed by the jihadist group during the past years of its rapid media response to the perpetrated attacks, which confirms that its involvement in Sri Lanka’s attacks was "weak" and that the bombings were carried out by parties far from the IS leadership and without advance planning.

The observatory added that the allegiance video posted by IS was aimed at showing that the jihadist group was still able to carry out bloody operations after being defeated in Syria.

The National Towheed Jamaat is extremist group is an extremist organisation active in Sri Lanka, a breakaway of an organisation of the same name in India founded and led by Abdul Rahman al-Nadwi Al Hindi, known as  Salman al-Nadwi, a student of spiritual leader of Muslim Brotherhood Yusuf Al-Qaradawi who is exiled in Qatar and Turkey.Nadwi, who swore allegiance to Al Baghdadi in a video posted online in 2014, met Qaradawi in Qatar in September 2017 after being expelled from Oman for his provocative remarks against Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states.

Salman al-Nadwi meeting with spiritual leader of Muslim Brotherhood Yusuf Al-Qaradawi
Salman al-Nadwi meeting with spiritual leader of Muslim Brotherhood Yusuf Al-Qaradawi

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt launched a diplomatic and trade boycott of Qatar in June 2017. The quartet accuses Doha of backing terrorism.

Qatar still hosted Nadwi despite his extremist views, especially after calling for an attack on Saudi Arabia during a speech at Oman’s College of Shariah Sciences, which proved the quartet’s claim.

Nadwi publicly called for the killing of foreigners.

"If you are in a position to kill an American or a European, whether a Frenchman, an Australian, a Canadian or a Hindu, who declared war on IS, then do it," said al-Nadwi.

Turkey sought to forge ties with the extremist Indian cleric who expressed his support for Erdogan ahead of last June’s election.

“We represent the Muslim peoples and 300 million Muslim Indians. We want the Turkish people to side with Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his party,” Al-Nadwi tweeted.

Nadwi’s son Yunus, currently studying in Turkey, is a regular panelist in the conferences organised by the South Asia Strategic Research Center (GASAM), a Turkish think tank named founded by Ali Sahin, who serves as deputy minister for European Affairs in Erdogan’s cabinet.