Sri Lanka suicide bomber left for work without saying goodbye says betrayed wife
The wife of the UK-educated Sri Lanka suicide bomber has told how he betrayed his family to join Islamic State.
Devastated Shifana Mohamed, 30, last saw Abdul Lathief Jameel Mohamed – who attended Kingston University – when he left home for Friday prayers.
The privately educated aircraft engineer was so keen to hide his deadly mission he did not even say goodbye.
He left behind his six-month-old baby boy, two sons aged six and four, and their three-year-old daughter.
Jameel set off “like any other day” to meet the seven other bombers, who killed 253 people, a revised toll after officials said morgues had been overwhelmed.
“I had no idea until the police turned up at my door. I was in complete shock,” she told her dad.
“He was a loving father, and just went off as usual on Friday.
“But we never saw him again. He has left me and his children behind. It is hard to take in what he has done.”
The family spoke of their devastation as Britons were warned against “all but essential travel” to Sri Lanka.
The Foreign Office’s advice could lead to thousands of holidaymakers leaving.
Jameel’s family showed photos of him playing with friends and animals when he was around 12 years old.
They have watched in horror as police, then special force officers arrived at their home in affluent Wellampitiya, Colombo.
They searched the property before returning to take heartbroken Shafina into custody with their baby son.
“He was quiet, reserved, just a normal guy who was a very caring father to the kids,” said her dad who did not wish to be named.
“The last time we saw him, he went off without a goodbye. He did not leave a suicide note.”
Jameel, 36, studied at Kingston University in London, named by Prime Minister David Cameron in 2015 as one of four universities which he alleged hosted the most events with extremist speakers. Kingston denied the claim.
His sister believes he was radicalised abroad, notably his three-year postgraduate course in Melbourne, Australia.
Jameel was investigated by Australian security over links to IS recruiter Neil Prakash.
The probe was triggered by intelligence that linked him to counter-terrorism targets, including Prakash.
He started to grow his beard to show his devotion to his faith, praying five times a day.
But there was no hint of his radical views, or devotion to extremist Zahran Hashim, the suspected mastermind behind the Easter Sunday massacres.
Jameel was meant to blow up the Taj Hotel in Colombo. When his device failed, he moved to the Tropical Inn Hotel. It is believed he set off his bomb by mistake, killing one other.
When the Mirror visited his home, Shifana’s dad, 57, said: “He betrayed his faith, his family.
"My daughter fell in love with him 10 years ago when he rented a room at my home. I wish she’d never laid eyes on him.
“If we had known anything, we would have told police. He was quiet, secretive, with no friends.
"He would say ‘mind your own business’ when even we asked him about work.
“He was wealthy, provided for his children. He’d go away from Friday to Monday, we had no idea where.
“I had no clue that he was becoming more obsessed with religion. He was a caring dad, but his kids are without a father.”
Born in 1982 with six siblings, Jameel was from a privileged background like many of the bombers.
His father had a tea business before he died 10 years ago.
He fell in love with Shifana, who came from a meat-trading family, when he returned from Britain around 2007.
They had a child in Australia, where Prime Minister Scott Morrison said a bomber lived with his wife and child there on a student visa, leaving in 2013.
He and his wife spoke English with their children, who do not speak native Sinhalese.
His sister Samsul Hidaya said he became “deeply, deeply religious” while he was in Australia.
“He came back a different man,” she said. “He had a long beard, had lost his sense of humour.
"He was serious, withdrawn, he would not smile at anyone he didn’t know, let alone laugh.
“He was a music lover. Before he died he wouldn’t let his children listen to music and never said a friendly word to anyone.”
She had “many arguments” with him over religion. Their mother Samsun Nissa was in New Zealand when the attacks took place.
A family friend told how their father Abdul spent around £23,000 on educating him. “His dad owned rental properties,” she said.
“That was his main income. He never had to work. It was a dream to see him get a good education and go to England and to get a good job. His father was so proud of him. Now look at what he has done.”
His nephew, 23, added: “I don’t think about him – I think about all the innocent people who lost their lives and their families.”
Another 16 suspects have been arrested, taking the total held to 76. A Syrian national is among those detained.
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