Police wrongly use photo of activist in wanted poster

American Muslim activist Amara Majeed was wrongly identified as a suspect in the bombings.
American Muslim activist Amara Majeed was wrongly identified as a suspect in the bombings.PHOTO: AMARA MAJEED/ FACEBOOK

COLOMBO • Sri Lankan police have been left red-faced after wrongly identifying a female American Muslim activist as a suspect in the deadly Easter bombings.

On Thursday, police issued a flier with the names and photos of six people - three men and three women - wanted in connection with the attacks that killed over 250 people. Among those listed was a woman identified as Abdul Cader Fathima Khadhiya, accompanied by a photo of a woman in a headscarf purported to be the individual wanted for questioning.

But the photo in fact showed Ms Amara Majeed, an American Muslim whose parents are Sri Lankan immigrants and who penned an open letter to President Donald Trump in 2015 about his rhetoric on Muslims.

"What a thing to wake up to! This is obviously completely false and frankly, considering that Muslim communities are already greatly afflicted with issues of surveillance, I don't need more false accusations and scrutiny," Ms Majeed wrote on her Facebook page.

Sri Lankan police issued a statement confirming that the photo was not of the suspect.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that one of the suspected ringleaders of the attacks was investigated by the Australian authorities for his links with a suspected key Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) recruiter, local media reported yesterday.

Abdul Lathief Jameel Mohamed came to the attention of the authorities in 2014 when he was linked to several counterterrorism targets, the Australian newspaper said citing intelligence sources.

 

Following his time in Australia, Mohamed returned to Sri Lanka, where he completed courses in radical Islamic teachings. He is then believed to have travelled to Syria where he joined ISIS before returning to Sri Lanka once more.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 27, 2019, with the headline 'Police wrongly use photo of activist in wanted poster'. Print Edition | Subscribe