KATTANKUDY, Sri Lanka (Reuters) – Sri Lankan authorities have arrested a Saudi-trained student for what they claim are hyperlinks with Zahran Hashim, the suspected ringleader of the Easter Sunday bombings, throwing a spotlight on the rising affect of Salafi-Wahhabi Islam on the island’s Muslims.

A mosque is considered at Center for Islamic Guidance in Kattankudy in Kattankudy, Sri Lanka, Would maybe moreover 4, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Mohamed Aliyar, 60, is the founder of the Centre for Islamic Guidance, which boasts a mosque, a spiritual college and a library in Zahran’s space of birth of Kattankudy, a Muslim-dominated metropolis on Sri Lanka’s jap shores.

“Data has been published that the suspect arrested had a shut relationship with … Zahran and had been working financial transactions,” said a police commentary leisurely on Friday.

The commentary said Aliyar used to be “though-provoking” with coaching within the southern town of Hambantota for the neighborhood of suicide bombers who attacked accommodations and church buildings on Easter, killing over 250 folks.

A police spokesman declined to bear details on the accusations.

Calls to Aliyar and his buddies went unanswered. Reuters used to be unable to search out contact details for a approved educated.

The government says Zahran, a radical Tamil-talking preacher, used to be a leader of the neighborhood.

Two Muslim neighborhood sources in Kattankudy told Reuters his hardline views were partly shaped by ultra-conservative Salafi-Wahhabi texts that he picked up on the Centre for Islamic Guidance’s library spherical 2-3 years within the past. The sources must no longer affiliated with the heart.

“I historical to constantly bustle into him on the heart, discovering out Saudi journals and literature,” said one of the most sources.

During that point, Zahran started criticizing the put together of asking God for support, for occasion, arguing that such pleas were an affront to pure Islam.

“That kind of coaching used to be no longer in Sri Lanka in 2016, except you read it in Salafi literature,” the source added, requesting anonymity to preserve care of away from repercussions in Kattankudy.

Salafism, a puritanical interpretation of Islam that advocates a return to the values of the principle three generations of Muslims and is carefully linked to Wahhabism, has often been criticized because the ideology of radical Islamists worldwide.

Wahhabi Islam has its roots in Saudi Arabia and is backed by its rulers, although Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has dedicated the dominion to a extra moderate produce of Islam.

Except for the reality that Zahran visited the heart, the sources in Kattankudy said they didn’t know of any personal ties between him and Aliyar.

Aliyar based the heart in 1990, a year after he graduated from the Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University in Riyadh, in what one resident said marked a key moment within the spread of Salafi doctrine in Kattankudy. The center used to be partly funded by Saudi and Kuwaiti donors, basically based on a plaque outside.

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Reuters spoke to 3 contributors of the heart’s board earlier than Aliyar’s arrest. They requested to dwell anonymous, citing security considerations amid a backlash in opposition to some Muslims.

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They said Zahran used to be a troublemaker and that they had warned authorities about his extremist views. The contributors said they thought Zahran frequented the library spherical a decade within the past, but had no recollection of him visiting no longer too lengthy within the past and denied that any of its books were to blame for his views.

Funding for the heart came from local donations, student costs, and deepest donors who were classmates of Aliyar’s in Riyadh, the heart’s sources said. Reuters used to be unable to straight resolve further details in regards to the funding of the heart.

The Saudi govt communications place of job in Riyadh did no longer answer to requests for observation on the funding of the heart.

Extra reporting by Stephen Kalin in Riyadh and Ranga Sirilal in Colombo; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer, Bettering by Raju Gopalakrishnan