SIS requested NSC to deploy special team to arrest Zaharan in 2018; witness tells PCoI

SIS requested NSC to deploy special team to arrest Zaharan in 2018; witness tells PCoI

SIS requested NSC to deploy special team to arrest Zaharan in 2018; witness tells PCoI

Written by Staff Writer

27 Aug, 2020 | 5:49 pm

Colombo (News 1st); The Former State Intelligence Service Director, Senior DIG Nilantha Jayawardena admitted the SIS had not sent any written document about a possible terror attack to former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando between 1st & 20th April 2019.

This was revealed in his testimony to the Presidential Commission of Inquiry appointed to probe the 2019 April Terror Attacks on Wednesday (26).

When Counsel Dilshan Jayasuriya representing the former Defence Secretary, cross-examined the witness, SDIG Jayawardena said the SIS was aware of Zahran’s mental capacity to conduct an attack from 2017, but they didn’t have any clue about Zahran’s preparedness and from 2017 onwards he had informed and requested the relevant security and political heads to take necessary action.

The witness said although he directly reported to the Defence Secretary, he had only sent information on strategic intelligence to the Defence Secretary.

Jayawardena said he was extremely close to Fernando professionally and had obtained permission from Hemasiri Fernando to pass the relevant intelligence information of a possible attack to former Chief of National Intelligence Sisira Mendis.

Senior DIG added he used to have an average of 80 phone calls per month with Hemasiri Fernando.

Jayawardena further added when he received the foreign intelligence about the imminent attack he thought it’s better to send a written document to former CNI Sisira Mendis because CNI gets intelligence from many security agencies and to send the foreign intelligence document to CNI, he obtained permission from Fernando who was the then Defence Secretary.

However, in his testimony to the PCoI on Thursday (27) SDIG Nilantha Jayawardena said, he is in possession of technical evidence to prove his innocence if any official was claiming the SIS had not done its work properly with regard to coordinated terror attacks.

He said the SIS was well aware of the National Thowheed Jamaa’t and its Leader Zahran Hashim’s extremist practices.

“Since 2016, the SIS had taken steps to inform issues related to religious extremism, especially to the National Security Council (NSC). It was a problematic situation if officials in these security agencies were not aware of Zaharan and his extremist practices,” he said.

The witness said the SIS had requested the National Security Council to deploy a special team to arrest Zaharan in 2018 and added if the NSC had acted on the information provided, Zaharan and his group would never have been able to carry out the attacks.

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