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Sri Lanka 'bombing mastermind' named as Moulvi Zahran HashimSri Lankan intelligence has named the mastermind behind the Easter Sunday attacks as Moulvi Zahran Hashim, an extremist local cleric who incited his followers to violence with fiery sermons on his social media channels. The revelation comes after senior government officials accused the National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ) a little-known group promoting Islamist terrorist ideology, as the perpetrators of the horrific suicide bombings which have now killed 310 people, including eight British citizens. India’s CNN News 18 channel first reported the possible involvement of Hashim in the massacre, claiming that Indian intelligence sources had indicated to the Sri Lankans that he was planning to attack the Indian High Commission in Colombo in early April. An initial probe into deadly suicide bomb attacks in Sri Lanka that killed more than 300 people shows it was "retaliation for Christchurch," the country's deputy defence minister said Tuesday. "The preliminary investigations have revealed that what happened in Sri Lanka (on Sunday) was in retaliation for the attack against Muslims in Christchurch," state minister of defence Ruwan Wijewardene told parliament. Read more | Sri Lanka attacks Over the last two years, Hashim gained thousands of followers and attracted the attention of jihad experts for his incendiary preaching on a pro-Islamic State Sri Lankan Facebook account, known as ‘Al-Ghuraba’ media, and on YouTube. Robert Postings, a writer and researcher on the Islamic State, said on his Twitter account that he had first encountered Hashim in late 2017 when the “self-styled” preachers was disseminating pro-Isil propaganda on Facebook. YouTube videos of the Islamist who is now the face of one of the worst terrorist atrocities since 9/11 shows him railing against all non-believers, including Christians, Hindus and Buddhists, and declaring that only Muslims are fit to rule. The backdrop to his sermons included images of the burning Twin Towers. Three days after the attack, there have been no claims of reponsibility by Islamic State, the NTJ, or any other group for the series of six devastating bombings across three hotels and three churches on Sunday. There have also been conflicting reports about the fate of Hashim, with claims circulating that he was one of the suicide bombers who carried out the attack and counter-claims that he may be on the run in the neighbouring Maldives islands. Although known primarily as a luxury honeymoon destination, the Maldives also supplied hundreds of radicalised fighters to Isil’s failed attempts to set up an Islamic caliphate in the Middle East. Hashim himself was known among the Muslim community as a divisive figure who was said to have dropped out of his seminary in India either because of ideological differences or over money worries. He is believed to have clashed with fellow clerics and encouraged his followers to attack rival mosques. Hilmy Ahamed, the vice-president of the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka, told The Telegraph he had been trying to warn officials about Hashim’s extremism for three years after it emerged that he was radicalisng young pupils in his Koran classes. "We were very concerned that this guy was preaching hate on social media and uploading a lot of videos,” he said. Mr Ahamed said Hashim continued to shuttle between India and Sri Lanka, travelling by fishing boat to avoid detection. Hashim's group began as an offshoot of the Sri Lanka Thawheed Jamaath, which has repeatedly fractured due to internal disputes. People attend burial ritual of the victims of multiple terror attacks during a funeral ceremony in Negomboo Credit: Chamila Karunarathne/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images The group could not have carried out the attack without external help, added Mr Ahamed. One working theory among regional security experts is that returning fighters could have provided training and logistics to the marginal NTJ which, although a cheerleader of global jihad, had only been known previously for defacing Buddhist statues in Sri Lanka. In January, police in Puttalam, some 100 miles north of Colombo, raided a coconut plantation, where they discovered 100kg of C4 explosives, 100 detonators, 75kg of ammonium nitrate and potassium chlorate and six 20 litre cans of nitric acid.   Reports at the time did not name the group involved but said the site may be linked to a newly emerging militant group that was tied to the vandalising of Buddhist statues. Suspects were arrested but later released on bail. Three months later, Sri Lankan security agencies received a tip-off from Indian and US intelligence agencies that the NTJ may be preparing to carry out terrorist acts against churches, but the crucial information was not passed to country’s prime minister. Since the attacks, the Sri Lankan government has apologised for failing to act on the intelligence brief.


4/23/2019 3:00:39 AM

Western woman killed, three other people kidnapped in northern NigeriaKidnappers in Nigeria killed two people including a Western woman on Saturday and abducted three Nigerians in the northern city of Kaduna, the local police said. Kidnappings are rampant in Nigeria, where both locals and foreigners are targeted — mostly for ransom.


4/21/2019 9:15:41 AM

President Trump Drops Plan to Nominate Herman Cain to Federal Reserve BoardOpposition from Senate Republicans would have sunk his confirmation chances


4/22/2019 10:59:28 AM

IS claims deadly attack on Afghan ministryThe Islamic State group Sunday claimed responsibility for an attack that killed 10 people and trapped around 2,000 for hours inside the communications ministry in the Afghan capital the previous day. Four IS jihadists detonated explosives near the ministry, then entered and "battled Afghan security forces with machine guns and hand grenades for numerous hours", the group said in a statement on its social media channels. The attack in central Kabul killed seven civilians and three members of the security forces, the interior ministry said on Sunday, in a new toll after three people died of their wounds.


4/21/2019 7:36:06 AM

On staff following orders, Trump says: 'Nobody disobeys me'The 448-page report from U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller on his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election revealed staff and associates sometimes ignored requests from Trump to deliver messages, including one to fire Mueller. "Nobody disobeys me," Republican Trump said when asked if he was worried about his orders not being followed. Mueller's report said that the 22-month investigation did not establish that the Trump campaign coordinated with Russians during the 2016 election campaign, but Mueller did find "multiple acts by the president that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations." According to the report, White House Counsel Don McGahn had been on the brink of resigning when Trump told him to ask Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to fire Mueller.


4/22/2019 3:24:25 PM

'House of horrors': California couple sentenced to life in prison for torturing their childrenDavid and Louise Turpin, who pleaded guilty in February to torture and false imprisonment, are eligible for parole after 25 years.


4/21/2019 11:49:38 AM

Tiger attacks zookeeper in front of visitors: 'He is a wild animal and was acting on instinct'A beautiful spring morning at the Topeka Zoo in Kansas turned tragic when a male Sumatran tiger attacked a keeper, inflicting wounds that sent her to a hospital.Although keepers are never supposed to be in the same space as the tigers, they found themselves together in the outdoor habitat that morning for reasons under investigation."There's some sort of error that occurred here," said Brendan Wiley, the zoo's director, told a news conference. He confirmed that several visitors to the zoo had witnessed the attack.The employee is the zoo's primary tiger keeper and had worked there for years, according to Mr Wiley, who noted that part of her job is to clean and maintain the enclosure. He said that the keeper was in stable condition and that the zoo was reviewing its safety protocols.The zookeeper, whom Mr Wiley declined to name, citing her family's need for privacy, suffered "lacerations and punctures" to the back of the head, neck, back and arm. She was awake and alert when she was transported to a hospital.The attack occurred about 9:15 am and the zoo's safety protocols immediately went into effect, Mr Wiley said. A radio call alerted the staff that there was an emergency, and the zoo called 911. Nearby staff members responded to the scene to secure the tigers, and an official made the decision to temporarily close the zoo. A firearms response team also was dispatched to the tiger exhibit, but zookeepers had successfully lured the tiger away by the time it arrived."Some of our staff witnessed some things that you hope you go through a career without witnessing," Mr Wiley said.The zoo has two adult Sumatran tigers: Jingga, a female, and Sanjiv, who was brought to the zoo in August 2017. Shanna Simpson, animal care supervisor, told the Topeka Capital-Journal then that Sanjiv "is the sweetest cat I have ever met."In October, Jingga gave birth to four cubs - three males and one female.The Topeka Zoo allowed Jingga and her cubs back into their enclosures Saturday afternoon, but Sanjiv would remain in holding overnight, Mr Wiley said.City spokeswoman Molly Hadfield said in an email that "nothing will happen to the tiger; he is a wild animal and was acting on instinct."Sanjiv is too valuable to conservation efforts to euthanise. Sumatran tigers are critically endangered, and only about 400 remain in the wild, according to the World Wildlife Fund. They are native to Indonesia, where deforestation, human encroachment and poaching have whittled their numbers to the brink of extinction.Some zoos participate in Sumatran tiger conservation programs designed to save the species, but these efforts are not always successful. In February, a male tiger brought to the London Zoo to mate attacked and killed its prospective female partner.The Washington Post


4/22/2019 2:13:52 AM

How 11 People Are Trying to Stop Fake News in the World’s Largest ElectionOne of the operations most vital to Facebook Inc. at this moment is a world away from its Menlo Park, California, headquarters, and in more ways than one. This is Boom Live, one of seven tiny fact-checking firms at the heart of Facebook’s efforts to rebuild some of its credibility during India’s elections. Based on the early tallies, more than 60 percent of India’s 900 million eligible voters are expected to cast ballots between now and May 19, as the center-left Congress Party tries to seize power from the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party.


4/22/2019 1:20:53 AM

Serbia pledges 1 million euros for Notre-Dame restorationSerbia on Monday said it will donate one million euros to help restore Notre-Dame Cathedral, after pro-government tabloids said the fire was "God's punishment" to France. The gift comes after two tabloids, Alo and Informer, said the blaze was divine retribution after Kosovo's flag was displayed inside the cathedral during World War I centennial commemorations in Paris last year. Serbia does not recognise the independence of Kosovo, a former southern province that broke away in a 1998-99 war.


4/22/2019 7:07:58 AM

Sri Lanka attack victims: British brother and sister killed while Manchester couple also among deadA British teenage brother and sister have been named as among the 310 killed in the Sri Lanka attacks on Sunday. Daniel Linsey, 19 and his younger sister Amelie, 15, were having breakfast with their father Matthew at the luxury Shangri-La Hotel when the suicide bomber struck. Mr Linsey, 63, an American city fund manager, returned to the family home in central London, on Monday to be with his British wife Angelina, 51, and his other two sons – aged 12 and 21 – who were not on the holiday.  The trio survived the first blast, but were caught up in a second explosion. He told The Times: "You can't describe how bad it was. People were screaming. I was with my children. I couldn't tell whether they were alright, it was dark. I was worried there would be another blast. We ran out - another blast." Read more | Sri Lanka attacks Both children were knocked out in the explosion, forcing Mr Linsey to take his son to hospital, as his daughter had no obvious wounds, but they both died. Mr Linsey added: "A lady said she’d take my daughter. I couldn’t find her because I was with my son. They sadly passed away.”    Amelie and Daniel were both born in Britain but had dual US and UK citizenship because their father was born in the United States. Six sites across the country were hit with almost simultaneous explosions, with officials saying two smaller blasts followed a few hours later. The Shangri-La, Kingsbury and Cinnamon Grand hotels, all in Colombo, were targeted, and three churches in Negombo, Batticaloa and Colombo's Kochchikade district were also hit during Easter services, leaving blood-stained pews, rubble and body parts strewn all over the buildings. Hours later, a further two explosions occurred at a guesthouse in Dehiwala and near an overpass in Dematagoda, on the outskirts of Colombo. Three police officers died near the overpass after entering a property to question suspects following a tip-off. Dr Sally Bradley and Bill Harrop Eight Britons were killed in the attacks, including a doctor and a retired firefighter. Dr Sally Bradley and her husband Bill Harrop were staying in the Cinnamon Grand Hotel when one of the seven suicide bombers struck. The couple had been living in the Australian city of Perth since 2013 where Dr Bradley was practising medicine, but were due to return to the UK soon.  Billy Harrop and his wife Sally They had bought a retirement home in the Cotswolds, Dr Bradley's nephew Jonathan Bradley said. He described her as a "true daughter of Manchester" who had worked as a GP in Salford, a director of public health in Manchester and as a consultant. She was sister to Labour peer Lord Keith Bradley, former MP for Manchester Withington. Mr Harrop retired from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service in 2012 after 30 years as a firefighter and was decorated for his role in the aftermath of the 1996 IRA attack on Manchester. pic gallery He had two sons from a previous relationship, Miles and Gavin. Gavin had been holidaying with them at the time of the blast but was staying at a different hotel. Nicholson family A British father whose entire family were killed in the suspected terror attack in Sri Lanka has paid tribute to his "talented and thoughtful" children and his "brilliant, loving" wife. Ben Nicholson said his wife Anita, 42, son Alex, 14, and daughter Annabel, 11, had been killed as they sat at a table for breakfast in the Shangri-la Hotel in Colombo. "Mercifully, all three of them died instantly and with no pain or suffering," Mr Nicholson said. Alex Nicholson, 11, his mother, Anita, 42, were killed while dining at the second-floor restaurant in the Shangri La hotel in the country’s capital, Colombo, on Sunday as it was gutted in one of several explosions which hit the country. Alex Nicholson, 11, and his mother Anita were killed in the attack. Father Ben survived, while the couple’s youngest daughter is unaccounted for Credit: Facebook In a statement released by the Foreign Office, Mr Nicholson said: "I am deeply distressed at the loss of my wife and children. Anita was a wonderful, perfect wife and a brilliant, loving and inspirational mother to our two wonderful children. The holiday we had just enjoyed was a testament to Anita’s enjoyment of travel and providing a rich and colourful life for our family, and especially our children. "Alex and Annabel were the most amazing, intelligent, talented and thoughtful children and Anita and I were immensely proud of them both and looking forward to seeing them develop into adulthood. They shared with their mother the priceless ability to light up any room they entered and bring joy to the lives of all they came into contact with." The couple both work as lawyers in Singapore, according to their professional profiles online. Mr Nicholson is understood to be a partner in the Singapore office of Kennedys Legal Solutions and advises clients on insurance law. His corporate profile describes him as a committee member of the Asia Power Forum and “a strong supporter of [the insurance sector in Asia] and a regular at events in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand”. Meanwhile, according to her LinkedIn profile, Mrs Nicholson was a former legal adviser to HM Treasury in London from 1998 to 2010 and relocated to Singapore to work for the oil giant, BP, in April 2012. Her profile lists her current place of employment as managing counsel at the mining and metals company, Anglo American. Alex and Anita were killed while dining at the Shangri La hotel in Colombo Credit: Facebook Mrs Nicholson shared photos of her family on social media sporting the kit of the British and Irish Lions Rugby team. In 2013 she shared a photo of her smiling son sitting between England fly half, Owen Farrell and Wales winger, George North. Her social media photographs also show her pictured at a fundraising even for First Hand, a Singapore-based volunteer group dedicated to helping children and families in Cambodia. Alex Nicholson pictured with Lions rugby players Owen Farrell, left, and George North Credit: Facebook Children of Anders Holch Povlsen The billionaire fashion tycoon behind online clothing retailer Asos lost three of his four children in the Sri Lanka terror attacks. Anders Holch Povlsen, 46, is Denmark's wealthiest man and the UK's largest private landowner after buying up 13 estates in Scotland. Three days before the attacks, Mr Povlsen's daughter Alma shared an Instagram photo of her siblings Astrid, Agnes and Alfred - calling them "three little bears" - in front of a swimming pool lined by palm trees. The billionaire and his wife Anne, who keep a low public profile, have not said which of their three children died in the attack. Anders Holch Povlsen and his wife Anne Holch Povlsen Credit: Olufson Jonas/Ritzau Scanpix via AP Mr Povlsen set out his ambitions for the 220,000 acres he owns north of the Border, but said he would not live to see the conclusion of his "re-wilding" project. Jesper Stubkier, communications manager for Mr Holch Povlsen's wholesale fashion business Bestseller, announced the children's deaths in the Easter Sunday attacks. He said: "I can confirm that three children have been killed. We have no further comment and we ask that the family's privacy is respected at this time." Shantha Mayadunne The first victims of the Easter bombings were named as a television chef, Shantha Mayadunne, and her London-based daughter, Nisanga. They had been staying at the Shangri-La hotel in the capital Colombo, which was one of four hotels bombed on Sunday morning. Nisanga, believed to be aged in her 30s, had posted a photo of the family in the hotel shortly before the explosion with the caption, "Easter breakfast with my family". Shantha Mayadume, a television chef, and her daughter Nilanga were also killed Credit: Twitter Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry said the nationalities of 11 foreigners killed in the Easter Sunday blasts have been verified. Three Indians, one Portuguese and two Turkish nationals were killed, while a further nine foreigners were also reported missing. A Dutch and a Chinese national have been reported among the victims, while Japan also confirmed one of its citizens was killed. Tulip Siddiq, the Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, said she lost a relative in the attacks. "It is all so devastating," she wrote on Twitter. "Solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka."


4/22/2019 5:13:33 PM

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