KATTANKUDY, Sri Lanka (Reuters) – Sri Lankan authorities have arrested a Saudi-educated scholar for what they declare are hyperlinks with Zahran Hashim, the suspected ringleader of the Easter Sunday bombings, throwing a highlight on the rising affect of Salafi-Wahhabi Islam on the island’s Muslims.
A mosque is seen at Heart for Islamic Steering in Kattankudy in Kattankudy, Sri Lanka, Could four, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Mohamed Aliyar, 60, is the founding father of the Centre for Islamic Steering, which boasts a mosque, a spiritual faculty and a library in Zahran’s hometown of Kattankudy, a Muslim-dominated metropolis on Sri Lanka’s jap shores.
“Data has been revealed that the suspect arrested had a detailed relationship with … Zahran and had been working monetary transactions,” stated a police assertion late on Friday.
The assertion stated Aliyar was “concerned” with coaching within the southern city of Hambantota for the group of suicide bombers who attacked lodges and church buildings on Easter, killing over 250 folks.
A police spokesman declined to offer particulars on the accusations.
Calls to Aliyar and his associates went unanswered. Reuters was unable to seek out contact particulars for a lawyer.
The federal government says Zahran, a radical Tamil-speaking preacher, was a frontrunner of the group.
Two Muslim neighborhood sources in Kattankudy informed Reuters his hardline views have been partly formed by ultra-conservative Salafi-Wahhabi texts that he picked up on the Centre for Islamic Steering’s library round 2-Three years in the past. The sources should not affiliated with the middle.
“I used to at all times run into him on the heart, studying Saudi journals and literature,” stated one of many sources.
Throughout that point, Zahran began criticizing the observe of asking God for assist, as an illustration, arguing that such pleas have been an affront to pure Islam.
“That sort of instructing was not in Sri Lanka in 2016, until you learn it in Salafi literature,” the supply added, requesting anonymity to keep away from repercussions in Kattankudy.
Salafism, a puritanical interpretation of Islam that advocates a return to the values of the primary three generations of Muslims and is intently linked to Wahhabism, has typically been criticized because the ideology of radical Islamists worldwide.
Wahhabi Islam has its roots in Saudi Arabia and is backed by its rulers, though Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has dedicated the dominion to a extra average type of Islam.
Aside from the truth that Zahran visited the middle, the sources in Kattankudy stated they didn’t know of any private ties between him and Aliyar.
Aliyar based the middle in 1990, a yr after he graduated from the Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic College in Riyadh, in what one resident stated marked a key second within the unfold of Salafi doctrine in Kattankudy. The middle was partly funded by Saudi and Kuwaiti donors, based on a plaque outdoors.
Reuters spoke to 3 members of the middle’s board earlier than Aliyar’s arrest. They requested to stay nameless, citing safety issues amid a backlash in opposition to some Muslims.
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They stated Zahran was a troublemaker and that that they had warned authorities about his extremist views. The members stated they thought Zahran frequented the library round a decade in the past, however had no recollection of him visiting not too long ago and denied that any of its books have been in charge for his views.
Funding for the middle got here from native donations, scholar charges, and personal donors who have been classmates of Aliyar’s in Riyadh, the middle’s sources stated. Reuters was unable to instantly decide additional particulars in regards to the funding of the middle.
The Saudi authorities communications workplace in Riyadh didn’t reply to requests for touch upon the funding of the middle.
Further reporting by Stephen Kalin in Riyadh and Ranga Sirilal in Colombo; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer, Enhancing by Raju Gopalakrishnan
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