Terrorism Threat Monitor: TTM

Islamic State’s Sri Lankan Outreach

December 09, 2015

In recent months, there has been growing evidence of actual and attempted outreach by the Islamic State into Sri Lanka, presently struggling to recover from a three-decade long conflict between its Sinhalese and Tamil ethnic groups. One of the most significant developments was the news of two Sri Lankan nationals fighting with the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. One such report, in July 2015, indicated that a Sri Lankan national in his mid-30s, identified as Mohamed Muhsin Sharfaz Nilam (a.k.a. “Abu Shurayh al-Silani”), was killed while fighting in Raqqa, Syria, during a U.S.-led coalition airstrike. Sri Lanka’s prime minister subsequently ordered investigations into possible Islamic State influence in the country to fathom the levels of radicalization among its minority Muslim populace.

The news of Nilam’s death was released by another Sri Lankan, Thauqeer Ahmed Thajudeen (a.k.a. “Abu Dhujaana Silani”), who is believed to be still fighting with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (LankaNewsPaper.com, July 26). Six months after Nilam’s death, the November 2015 issue of the Islamic State’s online magazine Dabiq paid tribute to its slain Sri Lankan fighter:

May Allah accept Abu Shurayh and have mercy on him and all those who gave their life, wealth and time for the cause of Allah… whose actions continue to inspire and awaken this Ummah. [1]

A cursory look at Nilam’s life gives us some clues on his Islamic education background and possible radical orientations. A resident of Warallagama of Kandy district, Mohamed Muhsin Nilam received an education in Shari’a law at Pakistan’s International Islamic University before returning to Sri Lanka. He afterwards became a visiting Urdu teacher in the capital’s Colombo University before 2012, and later became principal of a school in Galewala, Kandy (Sunday Times [Colombo], July 26).


Islamic State’s Sri Lankan Outreach By: Animesh Roul


(Originaly published at : Terrorism Monitor Volume: 13 Issue: 23, December 2, 2015, Jamestown Foundation, Washington DC)