Chaotic Situation in Church In Sri Lanka after bombing
By James Griffiths, CNN
Colombo, Sri Lanka (CNN) – Two of the suicide bombers involved in the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka were members of a prominent and wealthy family in Colombo, sources have told CNN, in a development that has rocked the small Muslim community in the city.
The brothers, Imsath Ahmed Ibrahim and Ilham Ahmed Ibrahim, were among the band of extremists who blew themselves up in Sunday’s attacks, two sources with knowledge of the investigation said. Their father, Mohamed Ibrahim, is the founder of Colombo-based Ishana Exports, which describes itself on its website as the “largest exporter of spices from Sri Lanka since 2006.”
Mohamed Ibrahim was among dozens of people detained in the wake of the attacks, which killed 359 people and injured more than 500, the sources told CNN. Video footage shows Ibrahim being led away by police. Authorities have not announced any charges against him.
The brothers are reported to be in their early 30s. Their identities were first disclosed by Indian news outlet Firstpost, citing intelligence sources in India. CNN has not been able to reach Mohamed Ibrahim or other members of his family for comment.
Sri Lanka’s State Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardene told reporters at a press conference earlier on Wednesday that those responsible for the attacks on Easter Sunday were well educated, from upper-middle class families, and financially independent. That was a “worrying factor,” he said.
According to neighbors and members of Colombo’s Muslim community, the Ibrahims are one of the wealthiest Muslim families in the capital, with connections to the country’s business and political elite.
Pamuditha Anjana, a neighbor in the Dematagoda district of Colombo, told CNN the Ibrahim family was “very well connected, very rich, politically connected as well.”
Reyyaz Salley, chairman of Colombo’s Dewatagaha Mosque, one of the largest and oldest in the city, said the elder Ibrahim was “a really nice person, a business-minded person who did export of spices.”
“We knew him as a normal person and as a businessperson,” he said.
The family spice company appears to be linked to a copper factory that was investigated in association with Sunday’s attacks. On its website, Colossus Copper states that Ishana Spice is its parent company. A phone number provided by both companies on their websites was identical. Calls to that number were not answered Wednesday.
Nine workers at the copper factory appeared in court earlier this week after being arrested on suspicion of providing materials used in Sunday’s bombs, according to court papers seen by a source at Colombo Magistrates’ Court. They are due back in court on May 6.
Hilmy Ahamed, vice president of the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka, was aware of Mohamed Ibrahim as a prominent member of the community. He described him as “very rich” and added that his sons were “well educated overseas.”
Ahamed doubted Mohamed Ibrahim had any idea of what his sons were planning. “He was a busy businessman,” he said. “He probably totally neglected what was happening around him. I doubt that he had knowledge.” -CNN