While Indian security agencies have not found evidence of bomber Zahran Hashim or his aides having visited India before the Easter Sunday attacks, it is learned that Sri Lankan investigators are working on leads pointing to Hashim’s travel to the Maldives in the recent past.
“A thorough scan of our immigration records failed to throw up any evidence of travel by Hashim or other Sri Lankan bombers to India in the past months and years. It is also equally unlikely that they gained illegal entry into India via sea route as that would have required a proper network of local aides to arrange their safe landing here,” a senior intelligence functionary from India told TOI.
Inquiries by investigators showed that state police and other agencies had not confirmed the existence of a network of National Tawheed Jamaat in south India, or at least one that would be associated with the Lankan terror group.
An intelligence official said while NTJ may share an ideological affinity with radical Indian outfits, including Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamaath, there is no lead pointing to any active links between them that would have contributed to the IS-inspired attack in Sri Lanka.
Sources indicated that it was possible that Hashim may have spent a few months in 2017-18, when he is said to have gone underground, in the Maldives. Maldives has reported a high rate of radicalization among its youth by IS and al-Qaida.