Written by Hassaan Shazuli
20 Aug, 2020 | 10:06 pm
COLOMBO (News1st): Top intelligence and security officials were warned of last year’s April 21 terrorist attacks a day before it occurred, a former intelligence director has said.
The warning was sent by “a foreign counterpart” at around 4:15 pm on April 20, former State Intelligence Service (SIS) Director Nilantha Jayawardena, on Thursday, told the presidential commission probing the attacks.
The informant, in an intelligence warning sent to the SIS director via WhatsApp had said, Zaharan Hashim of the National Thowheed Jamath group and his associates have planned an attack to be carried out on or before April 21.
“They have reportedly selected eight places including a church and a hotel where Indians inhabit in large numbers,” the warning read.
The witness said he had passed on the warning to the then defence secretary, Inspector General of Police, Chief of National Intelligence and the Senior DIG of the Criminal Investigation Department.
“It was reliable,” former SIS director Jayawardena said in his testimony. “I wanted immediate action to be taken”.
Evidence produced before the commission showed that the then defence secretary Hemasiri Fernando had responded to the SIS Director saying “Well Received”.
Police chief Pujith Jayasundara had told him to pass on the information to the then senior DIG of the Western Province Nandana Munasinghe – an attempt that had failed.
“I then asked the defence secretary to speak to the IGP as he might not have realized the gravity of this information,” the witness recalled.
He said that a text message sent to the police chief on the intelligence information did not draw a response as well.
The warning had reaffirmed SIS findings that the explosion of a motorcycle in Kattankudy on the April 16, 2019 was a dry run conducted as a precursor to the bombings, according to the witness.
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