Sri Lankan authorities have arrested a Saudi-educated scholar for what they claim are links with Zahran Hashim, the suspected ringleader of the Easter Sunday bombings, throwing a spotlight on the rising influence of Salafi-Wahabi Islam on the island’s Muslims.
Aliyar, 60, is the founder of the Centre for Islamic Guidance, which boasts a mosque, a religious school, and a library in Zahran’s hometown of Kattankudy, a Muslim-dominated city on Sri Lanka’s eastern shores.
“Information has been revealed that the suspect arrested had a close relationship with … Zahran and had been operating financial transactions,” police statemenet said. The statement said Aliyar was “involved” with training in the southern town of Hambantota for the group of suicide bombers who attacked hotels and churches on Easter, killing over 250 people. A police spokesman declined to provide details on the accusations.