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How is the Coimbatore Cylinder Explosion Connected to the Easter Bombings in Sri Lanka?

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Reports showed that the accused in the Coimbatore case was planning an operation similar to the Sri Lanka Easter bombings in the city.

Coimbatore Cylinder Blast Sri Lanka Easter Bombardment

The suspect in the Coimbatore (L) cylinder explosion planned an Easter bombing-style attack in Sri Lanka (File)

By Saikiran Kannan: A 25-year-old man was killed in a gas cylinder explosion in Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu on Sunday, October 23. Police identified the deceased as Jameesha Mubeen who was questioned by the NIA in 2019. his house. If we look at the details that emerge from the initial investigation and the group of arrests made in the past, there are many details that we can map together to get a complete picture.

At first, the incident was reported as an “accident” by the local media, but the incident took a new turn when DGP Sylendra Babu visited the site and hinted at a terror plot. Mubeen would come from the very sensitive Ukkadam area in Coimbatore.

Updates on the studies:

Reports emerging from the early stages of the investigation say Mubeen had been radicalized by the philosophies and ideologies of the Islamic State and planned to plan an Easter bombing-style operation (detonation in 2019 that rocked Srilanka shaking) in Coimbatore and planned to start the same from Konniyamman Temple or Kotta Eswaran Temple in Coimbatore.

In addition, reports show that he was already on the waiting list of the Tamilnadu police for trying to cause an explosion a few years ago. At the time, he was not arrested or detained for lack of evidence. Mubeen will also have close ties to Mohammed Azharuddin, who is now in prison in Kerala for his past involvement with ISIS networks.

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The incident was previously said to be an accident involving the explosion of a gas-powered car. Sources now indicate that Mubeen was not driving a gas vehicle, but a petrol vehicle and activating the cylinder early may have been an accident. Police say Mubeen tried to slow his car when he saw a police checkpoint, but the trigger went off before he could reach his target.

Mubeen drove a Maruti 800 car that had 8-9 previous owners before him. The cylinder was filled with iron pellets and sharp metal objects to cause more damage and injuries (a typical case of terror). Mubeen’s residences have been searched and many items such as terror literature and explosives-related chemicals have apparently been found.

Now CCTV footage has surfaced that allegedly shows the cylinders being loaded into the car by four others whose identities are under investigation by the police investigating the case. There are also reports that the NIA may take over the investigation into the nature of the incident.

Who is Azharuddin?

In June 2019, Azharuddin was arrested as part of NIA’s (National Investigative Agency) continuing investigations into Kasargod – ISIS breakthrough in Kerala. He had been the prime suspect and the leader of the module and had maintained a Facebook page called “KhilafahGFX”, promoting the ideology of ISIS. He was connected to Lankan on Facebook
suicide bomber Zahran Hashim (the mastermind behind the 2019 Easter bombings) and other members of the module have also shared radical content attributed to Zahran Hashim via social media.

This group was responsible for recruiting vulnerable young people to ISIS to carry out terrorist attacks in South India, especially in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Azharuddin was also from the Ukkadam area in Coimbatore. His groups also had documented ties to Riyas Aboobacker alias Abu Dujana, who was picked up by the NIA from Kerala in April 2019. Abu Dujana was a native of Palakkad. He would plan suicide bombings in the state. He was an avid follower of Zahran Hashim and the other infamous preacher, Zakir Naik.

During Azharuddin’s arrest, multiple phones, SIM cards, terror and radical literature-related materials, an electric baton, rifles and other ammunition were recovered.

The connection with Zahran Hashim:

Zahran Hashim was from a small town called Kattankudy near Batticaloa on the east coast of Sri Lanka. He has been active on Facebook since 2011 and started to radicalize his followers through his posts and videos. He was seen as the Zakir Naik of this part of the world and he was the mastermind behind the series explosions in 2019 that killed more than 250 people in churches and other places in Srilanka. He was also one of the suicide bombers in this blast.

Zahran Hashim was of Tamil Muslim ethnicity and therefore had great influence among his followers in South India and even parts of Malaysia and Singapore. Many groups in Tamilnadu followed his regular uploads of videos and audio recordings. In July 2019, 2 Singaporeans were detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for planning to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State (IS). One of them was a money changer named Kuthubdeen Haja Najumudeen and an avid follower of Zahran Hashim. Since 2011, Haja has been listening to Zahran’s online lectures and regularly contacting him for religious guidance. He also made three trips to Sri Lanka between May 2015 and October 2016 to visit the pastor and donated money to Zahran’s group, the National Thowheed Jamaath (NTJ).

It is important to note especially the influence of Zahran Hashim in Coimbatore and Ukkadam. In October 2019, arrests were made in Coimbatore by the NIA in connection with an IS module also influenced by Zahran Hashim. Their targets were Hindu groups and organizations that were present in Coimbatore. The group had made preparations, including target reconnaissance, to launch such attacks, which would have caused a communal disharmony in the state. In addition, searches and arrests were also carried out in Sivagangai, Tiruchirapalli, Nagapattinam and Thoothukudi districts at the time. This Sunday’s incident appears to be of a similar nature.

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