Zahran Hashmi, who led the team of suicide bombers in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, appeared to be from a very normal family, his father-in-law said on Tuesday.
Mohammed Hussein Abdul Cader identified the photos of his son-in-law Hashmi, daughter Abdul Cader Fathima Zadiya and grand daughter when intelligence officers came to his house after the bombings, the Daily Mirror reported on Tuesday.
Zahran, the leader of the National Thowheeth Jamath (NTJ, the terror outfit involved in the country’s worst terror attacks, blew himself up in the posh Shangri-La hotel.
He is known for his extremist speeches and the Muslim community in the country had warned the authorities about the cleric.
Abdul said that Hashmi visited their house several times with a relative and told them that he was studying in a mosque. Hashmi even asked to marry his daughter.
“When my daughter was 15 years of age, I gave her in marriage to him,” Abdul said, adding that they had visited Zahran’s family as well.
“He had two younger brothers and two younger sisters, and they appeared to be a very normal family,” he said.
Abdul’s daughter and grand daughter were injured in the gun battle and suicide blasts in Sainthamaruthu near Kalmunai in Sri Lanka’s Eastern province when security forces clashed with the group recently, the report said.
“I learnt that Fathima and some others were involved in the suicide blasts in Kalmunai the other day. After the explosions, intelligence officers came to my house and showed me their photos. I identified them as my daughter and granddaughter. My son-in-law is Mohammed Cassim Mohod Zahran,” he said.
Six children and three women were among 15 people killed on Saturday when militants linked to the Easter Sunday bombings opened fire and blew themselves up during a fierce gun battle with security forces in the Sri Lanka’s Eastern province.
The shootout occurred as the security forces continued their hunt for members of the NTJ.
A series of coordinated bomb blasts ripped through churches and luxury hotels on Easter Sunday, killing 253 people and over 500 others.
A total of 106 suspects, including a Tamil medium teacher and a school principal, have been arrested in connection with the blasts.
According to country’s Foreign Ministry, the number of foreign nationals who have been identified as killed remained at 40, including 11 from India.
Sri Lanka has a population of 21 million which is a patchwork of ethnicities and religions, dominated by the Sinhalese Buddhist majority.