3 charged in California with aiding deadly Sri Lanka attacks

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Three Sri Lankan men have been charged in California with aiding a terrorist group blamed for 2019 Easter attacks that killed 268 people in Sri Lanka, including five U.S. citizens, and injured hundreds, it was announced Friday.

Mohamed Naufar, Mohamed Anwar Mohamed Riskan and Ahamed Milhan Hayathu Moahmed were charged last month in federal court in Los Angeles with conspiracy and providing and attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office.

The men have no California connection, but the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force that headed the investigation is based in Los Angeles, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

The three men were linked to a group in Sri Lanka that supported Islamic State and which is blamed for April 21, 2019, suicide bombings at Christian churches and hotels in three Sri Lankan cities, prosecutors said.

Naufar is accused of leading propaganda efforts for the group that called itself “ISIS in Sri Lanka,” recruited others to join the group and led military-type training, authorities said.

Riskan is accused of helping make explosive devices used in the attacks and Moahmed allegedly killed a police officer in Sri Lanka to obtain a weapon, shot a suspected informant and scouted a location for a separate terrorist attack, prosecutors said.

The men were being held in Sri Lanka and it wasn’t immediately clear whether they had attorneys who could speak for them.

“This case clearly demonstrates that the United States will take decisive action to ensure terrorists face justice when they target Americans anywhere in the world,” Nick Hanna, U.S. attorney for the Central District of California, said in the statement. “This complaint makes clear that we stand ready with these charges in the event the defendants attempt to evade justice.”

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