A Myriad of Reasons Led to Easter Sunday Attacks!
It was revealed before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) probing the last year’s Easter Sunday attacks that several questionable telephone conversations had taken place between former President Maithripala Sirisena and the then Director of the State Intelligence Service (SIS), Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police (Senior DIG) Nilantha Jayawardena, before the Easter Sunday attacks.
This information was revealed to the public, in a context where a multitude of allegations have been levelled against several prominent public officials, members of law-enforcement agencies and politicians of the last Government, in connection with their failure to avert the Easter Sunday attacks despite several forewarnings.
Recently it was revealed before the PCoI probing the Easter Sunday attacks that a 159-second telephone conversation had taken place between former President Maithripala Sirisena and the then Director of the State Intelligence Service (SIS), Senior DIG Nilantha Jayawardena, at 7:59 a.m. on 21 April 2019, just before the attacks, and that another telephone conversation had taken place between the duo at 6:16 p.m. on 20 April 2019.
According to the information revealed so far, about 20 telephone conversations had taken place between the former President and the former SIS Director, from 4 to 21 April 2019. These telephone conversations had taken place after the SIS received foreign intelligence information that a group including National Thowheed Jama’ath (NTJ) Leader Zaharan Hashim could launch an attack.
The former President had, from the very beginning, maintained that he was not informed of the information given by foreign intelligence services regarding the Easter Sunday attacks.
However, a document submitted at the PCoI probing the Easter Sunday attacks on 24 October showed that a total of 221 telephone conversations had taken place between the former President and the former SIS Director from January to April 2019 alone. What they discussed on this many of occasions, especially in the face of a catastrophe of this magnitude, remains unknown.
When the PCoI probing the Easter Sunday attacks questioned the former President in connection with these telephone conversations, in response, he stated that he could not remember much about the said telephone calls, while continuing to maintain that he was not aware of the foreign intelligence information pertaining to the Easter Sunday attacks. He added that even though his residence or the office may have received the said telephone calls, it was hard to say he got them all.
Sri Lanka has a former President who denies he had absolutely no knowledge about the Easter Sunday attacks despite having the SIS under his supervision, in addition to two high-ranking officials – former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando and former Inspector General of Police (IGP) Pujith Jayasundara – who claim that the former President should be held accountable for the failure to prevent the Easter Sunday attacks.
It would not be an exaggeration to state that statements made by this trio and other officials who testified before the PCoI probing the Easter Sunday attacks show a huge lack of cooperation and coordination among them. Unfortunately, despite clear evidence suggesting that not one, but many officials and politicians had ignored warnings, they continue to deny any knowledge or responsibility.
As the PCoI probing the Easter Sunday attacks continued its proceedings, more and more startling revelations came to light, raising serious concerns among the public who are waiting to find out whose fault allowed extremists to carry out a spate of suicide bombings on last year’s Easter Sunday.
According to information revealed before the PCoI probing the Easter Sunday attacks so far, it is evident that in addition to many an other factor, authorities’ negligence, poor communication between institutions and officials, lack of coordination between responsible authorities including the former President and Prime Minister, and the huge support received by the extremists who carried out the attack, have also caused the failure to avert the Easter Sunday attacks.