Easter Attacks PCoI: Former SIS Director didn’t share intell with officers

By Buddhika Samaraweera | Published: 2:00 AM Oct 23 2020

By Buddhika Samaraweera

Former Director of the State Intelligence Service (SIS), Senior DIG Nilantha Jayawardena had not informed any SIS Officers deployed all over the country about the information received on 4 April 2019, that a group including Leader of the National Thowheed Jam’math , Zaharan Hashim, could launch a terrorist attack.

This was revealed when SDIG Jayawardena testified before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the 21 April 2019, Easter Sunday Bombings, for the 25th day, on 21 October. He also said he knew by 26 March 2019 that Zaharan and his group could launch an attack. The Commission questioned him based on the testimony of several witnesses before the Commission.

"One of the SIS officials summoned to this Commission said that they had not been informed of the Intelligence information received from a foreign intelligence unit on 4 April 2019 until the Easter Sunday Bombings. Why is that?," the Chairman of the Commission questioned. In response, the witness said he could not answer the question in the presence of the Media.

Meanwhile, when questioned as to whether he knew where Zaharan was at the time of receiving the said information, the witness said he had received information that Zaharan was in Mawanella until 20 January 2019. But no information was available on his whereabouts as of 4 April 2019, he said.

The Commission then queried him as to why he did not inform the Intelligence Officers all over the country in this regard and give them Zaharan's photograph, to look for him. The witness, in reply, said: "During an Intelligence related meeting held in March 2019, we received information that Zaharan had fled to India. 

“This information was brought by the Directorate of Military Intelligence. We did not have that information. Also, I had a discussion with some Indian informants with regard to this. Then I informed all Deputy and Assistant Directors of the SIS, as well as the Officers in Charge that Zaharan and his group may launch an attack."

Meanwhile, as he has said on several occasions that he is a well disciplined officer, a Member of the Commission questioned him as to why he recorded the phone calls he received from other officers if he was in fact such a disciplined officer. In response, he said: "See what has happened to me now. It is now being said that the reports I have sent had many mistakes. 

“I was like the son of former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando, not of former President Maithripala Sirisena. From time to time, they made me the son of various persons. I wanted to have a powerful father too, but now I have become an illegitimate child because I did not work on political agendas. I had to do so to protect the dignity of the position of the Director of the SIS."

Thereafter, at the request of SDIG Jayawardena, the hearing of evidence was not open to the Media.

By Buddhika Samaraweera | Published: 2:00 AM Oct 23 2020

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