Colombo: A surveillance footage has been released by the Sri Lankan authorities which shows two of the suicide bombers riding a hotel elevator at the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo minutes before blowing themselves up at an Easter Sunday breakfast.
The suicide bombers can be seen smiling and talking to each other as they head to the third floor. They are on their way to Table One restaurant where they later detonated the explosives inside their backpacks.
Earlier, hours after taking responsibility for the Easter Day bombings which left 321 people dead, ISIS had released a video to substantiate its claim.
The unverified ISIS video, released through its Amaq propaganda arm, has eight men standing before the outfit’s flag. All of the men are masked except for one man, who ISIS said was the team leader.
This man was identified as Abu Ubaida.
Sri Lankan authorities have reportedly identified Abu Ubaida as Zahran Hashim, a Sri Lankan Muslim preacher and leader of the country’s group National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ) terror cell.
Reports say that Hashim had been under watch for at least three years due to his malicious calls for violence against non-Muslims. Some of his videos were on YouTube till Monday when his account was reportedly deleted “for violating YouTube’s Terms of Service”.
Associated Press quoted Muslim Council of Sri Lanka Vice-President Hilmy Ahamed as saying, “It was basically a hate campaign against all non-Muslims.”
Sri Lankan authorities had said Hashim and his NTJ were behind the attacks but they had “international support”. Meanwhile, ISIS’ al-Amaq news agency claimed responsibility on its channel with its message reading, “The perpetrators of the attack that targeted nationals of the crusader alliance (anti-IS US-led coalition) and Christians in Sri Lanka the day before yesterday were Islamic State fighters.”