Islamic State Khurasan Releases Bio of Reported Sri Lanka Attacker
The Voice of Khorasan, a magazine by the media outlet for the Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP), recently published a brief bio of and a statement by Shaykh Shaheed Abu Ubaitha, the alleged mastermind of the 2019 attacks in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The profile was titled “Shaykh Abu Ubaitha: the Amir of the Istishadi Knights Who Wreaked Havoc on the Crusaders in Srilanka (sic.)”. The attacks occurred on Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019: official figures state that these resulted in the deaths of 269 people, plus the eight suicide bombers involved.
The article claims that Ubaitha was born and raised in Kattankudy (Kaathankudi), a township on Sri Lanka’s east coast. It includes few personal details on him, stating “he had immense love for jihad and zeal for the Ummah (Islamic community) from his childhood, as he bore enmity towards the kuffar (infidels) and mushrikin (polytheists)”. It also claims that sometime prior to the attack, Ubaitha and 800 other individuals pledged their allegiance to former Islamic State (IS) Caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
It states that Ubaitha’s 2019 attacks killed “650 Christians and mushrikin and 22 Mujihideen (who were) martyred”. It also claims that the attackers left a message to the world in “their own blood”, that states “Allah willing, the Khilifah will be raised through our blood that has flown from our bodies and fallen on this earth”.
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Ubaitha is quoted directly in reference to the attacks. “If you ask us why we did these attacks, there is a village named Baghuz in Sham (Syria). This land was governed by the law of Allah only. Over 80 crusader countries destroyed this area and its people. They showered white phosphorus bombs, which has (sic.) been banned by the crusader countries [themselves]...”. “After killing our people, making our children orphans, making our sisters widows, and after killing the mujahedeen they (the ‘crusaders’) come here for tourism and holidays. So we have embarked on a noble cause… to kill them by sacrificing our lives!” In his lengthy statement, Ubaitha also addresses future potential targets, stating “Do not think you can negotiate. There will be explosions here and there. This is [just] the beginning!” The statement also mentions the March 2019 Christchurch Mosque shooting in New Zealand as justification for attacks on Churches in Colombo.
Other than the brief bio and photos provided in this recent publication, practically nothing is known of Shaykh Shaheed Abu Ubaitha. One of the known attackers named Mohammad Cassim Mohammad Zahran (aka Zahra Hashmi) came from Ubaitha’s reported hometown of Kattankudy. A suspected ringleader in the attacks, he was killed in a suicide explosion at the Shangri-la hotel in Colombo in 2019. It is possible that Shaykh Shaheed Abu Ubaitha may have been another of Zahran’s nom de guerres.
According to Sri Lankan officials, the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks in Colombo were perpetrated by the National Thoweeth Jama’ath (NTJ). Translated from Arabic as the National Monotheism Organization, the NTJ is believed to have ties to IS: it and one of its suspected splinter groups were banned by the Sri Lankan parliament on April 27, 2019, shortly after the attacks. Although now-former Sri Lankan Defence Minister Ruwan Wijewardene has claimed that the attacks came in response to the March 2019 Christchurch Mosque shootings, this has been disputed by some experts. If true, this latest statement from the ISKP would corroborate the Sri Lankan government’s official narrative on the matter.