SIS received information about a second attack in 2019; Ex-SIS Director

SIS received information about a second attack in 2019; Ex-SIS Director

SIS received information about a second attack in 2019; Ex-SIS Director

Written by Staff Writer

24 Aug, 2020 | 6:28 pm

Colombo (News 1st); Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police Nilantha Jayawardena said there was no feedback with regard to the information provided by the State Intelligence Service (SIS) to various agencies on religious extremism during his tenure as the SIS Director.

He testified at the Presidential Commission of Inquiry probing the 2019 April 21st Terror Attacks on Monday (24).

It was revealed during his recent testimonies before the PCOI that the SIS had on several occasions informed various institutions such as the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID), the National Security Council, and Sri Lanka Police on the growing extremist activities including in the Eastern Province.

The witness said several days after the attacks, former President Maithripala Sirisena had questioned whether the SIS was aware of extremist activities.

The witness further said after the attacks, the SIS was criticized for not sharing intelligence information properly but added the SIS fulfilled its duties properly.

The Former Director of the SIS also added, the State Intelligence Service, following the April 21st attacks, received information about close relatives of the bombers killed in the bombings could possibly launch a second attack targeting hospitals, shopping malls, supermarkets, Police stations, and the Indian High Commission.

He also said he had then taken steps to submit a report consisting of information about the close associates of Zaharan Hashim on 24th April 2019 to the SDIG of the Criminal Investigations Department.

He added his intention was to dismantle Zaharan’s network as it was revealed that Zaharan may have died, but his network was still active.

Moreover, a person named Mohamed Zaharan Fazlur Rahman,from Matale was also included in the relevant letter as the SIS had received information that Rahman was a strong supporter of Zaharan.

He added the Islamic State (IS or ISIS) had claimed responsibility for April 21st attacks following the intervention of Rahman.

The witness added on the same day, 24th April 2019, the then IGP had sent a letter to senior police officers containing information on alleged attacks to be carried out in Sri Lanka by IS followers in the future.

However, investigations carried out by the SIS into that did not reveal enough information about such a plan.

He also submitted a letter to the PCoI, through which senior Police officials had been directed to take necessary action regarding information that a group could launch an attack targeting mosques.

Through that letter, the IGP had instructed the Police officials to meet the Maulavis and personally inform them of the dangers of such an attack.

He also said that by that time, 11 men and 6 women had been identified as being capable of launching a series of suicide attacks adding close relatives of the bombers who died in the attack on 21 April were more likely to launch such an attack.

Testifying further, SDIG Jayawardena went on to say “information had been received that people dressed in military uniforms were planning to launch the attack using vans.

There were reports of possible attacks targeting five locations, including Batticaloa, and that another attack could be carried out targeting people arriving in the area after the initial attacks.

The SDIG added the SIS had sent information to the relevant officials in this regard.

He said the letter sent by the SIS also contained information about Jal Al Kital alias Rilwan Hashim, the brother of Zaharan.

He also forwarded the relevant letter to the Ministry of Defence, the Chief of National Intelligence and the IGP, as well as the Chief of Defense Staff .

In response to a question from members of the PCoI as to why the letter was forwarded to the CDS, he said that he had been instructed to forward the reports prepared by the SIS to the CDS at the National Security Council meeting on 22nd April, 2019.

In response to a question from an Additional Solicitor General as to who attended the relevant NSC meeting on 22nd April, 2019, he said that former President Maithripala Sirisena, Defence Secretary and Secretary to the President were also present.

However, he said he did not remember whether former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe or State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardene were present at the meeting.

He further said that the then IGP Jayasundara also attended the NSC meeting held on that day for the first time since October 2018.

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