IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi praises Sri Lanka Easter bombings
The leader of the Islamic State group praised the Easter suicide bombings that killed more than 250 people in Sri Lanka in a video released yesterday, calling on terrorists to be a "thorn" against their enemies, in his first filmed appearance in nearly five years. The suicide bombers in last week's attack apparently pledged their loyalty to the IS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka government banned face veil for security purpose
The video of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi came as the top official in the Catholic Church urged Sri Lanka to crack down on Islamic extremists "as if on war footing". Meanwhile, a government ban on niqab face covering took effect as soldiers and police officers conducted raids in eastern Sri Lanka, the home of the alleged mastermind of the attacks.
al-Baghdadi claims to have been filmed before the Easter bombings
The 18-minute video of al-Baghdadi included images of the extremist leader sitting in a white room with three others, assault rifles by their sides. He discussed Sri Lanka in an audio portion of the video, suggesting the April 21 attacks came after they filmed him.
Lanka bombings revenge for fall of Baghouz in Syria: al-Baghdadi
al-Baghdadi praised the attackers, saying they conducted the bombings as revenge for the fall of Baghouz, Syria, the last territory the extremist group held there or in Iraq. "As for your brothers in Sri Lanka, they have put joy in the hearts of the monotheists with their immersing operations that struck the homes of the crusaders in their Easter," al-Baghdadi said.
Be thorn in chest of crusaders: al-Baghdadi to IS-pledged terrorists
al-Baghdadi called on Islamic State-pledged terrorists in the island nation off the southern tip of India to be "a thorn in the chests of the crusaders." Authorities initially blamed the Easter attacks on a local terrorist named Mohammed Zahran and his followers. Then the IS group on April 23 released images of Zahran and others pledging their loyalty to al-Baghdadi.
Explosives recovered by Sri Lankan authority bore hallmarks of IS
Police conducted a raid later in eastern Sri Lanka that saw terrorists detonate suicide bombs in violence that killed at least 15 people, including six children. Explosives recovered by authorities bore hallmarks of the Islamic State group as well. Anger against Sri Lanka's government has grown after the country discovered its security services had prior, specific warnings an attack loomed.
Security forces should function as if on war footing: Ranjith
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the archbishop of Colombo and the Catholic Church's top official on the island, said the church may not be able to stop people from taking the law into their own hands if the government doesn't do more. Speaking to media, Ranjith said, "All the security forces should be involved and function as if on a war footing."
Church will not allow revenge attacks against Muslims: Ranjith
"I want to state that we may not be able to keep people under control in the absence of a stronger security program," said Ranjith, adding, "We can't forever give them false promises and keep them calm." He, however, sought to assure Muslims the church won't allow any revenge attacks against them. Catholic churches canceled Mass on this Sunday for fear of another attack.
Catholics celebrated Mass inside their homes fearing further bomb attacks
Catholics celebrated Mass in their homes while watching Ranjith preside over a televised service. Other denominations also closed their doors. The church closing followed local officials and the U.S. Embassy, Colombo, warning that more terrorists with explosives are on the loose targeting places of worship.