Indian security agencies suspect that the recent terror attack in Sri Lanka was financed by a Pakistan-based drug cartel. Drug smugglers based in Pakistan have been using the Sri Lankan sea route for the last seven years to export drugs to Europe after a clamp down on the Central Asian and Russian drug routes.

According to Indian sleuths, drugs are boarded on boats and shipping vessels from Karachi and transferred to Sri Lanka. Smuggling via sea runs lesser risk and the high seas provide a relatively easy route to a transit or recipient country, a source said.

Money generated from drug sales was used to finance terror activities and encourage extremist ideologies in eastern Sri Lanka at the behest of ISI, according to the source. Mahinda Rajapaksa’s regime had also turned a blind eye to activities in the Pakistan high commission in Colombo. Security experts allege that Lankan security apparatus engaged in a civil war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam ignored the rise of extremism in the eastern part of the nation.

An espionage ring busted in 2014 in Chennai found that it was controlled by a Pakistan diplomat with links to ISI. Two suspects identified as Mohamed Saleem (43) and Sri Lankan national Mohamed Sakir Hussain were convicted in the case by a special NIA court in 2018.

According to NIA, the two had arrived in Chennai to carry out terrorist acts as per instructions from their handler in the Pakistan High Commission in Colombo, Amir Zubair Siddiqui. The two were arrested by Tamil Nadu police and handed over to NIA. Siddiqui has been named in one of the charge sheets NIA filed. He exited the high commission after New Delhi started building pressure and is ‘absconding’.

Apart from India, Morocco too shared intelligence information to help Lanka in identifying the nine bombers and their handlers belonging to ISIS, ET has learnt. Morocco shared the information less than 48 hours after theattacks with Colombo and New Delhi. Morocco has one of the most successful records incounter-terrorismand de-radicalisation. Last year, the head of Morocco’s Central Bureau of Legal Investigation, Abdelhak Khiame, had said Moroccansecurity servicesdismantled 183 terrorist cells in the country that were planning 361 devastating terrorist projects. Over 3,000 people were arrested by Moroccan authorities in the past decade. ISIS had on Tuesday claimed responsibility for the Lankan bombing. (Economic Times)

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