Following clash between NTJ and another group : SIS recommended impartial probe – witness
By Buddhika Samaraweera
Following a clash between the National Thowheed Jama’ath (NTJ) led by Zaharan Hashim and another organisation called the Sunnatul Wal Jama'at in 2017, the State Intelligence Service (SIS) recommended to the Kattankudy Police that an impartial investigation be conducted in that regard, said former SIS Director, Senior SDIG, Nilantha Jayawardena.
He was testifying before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) probing the bombings on 21 April 2019 Easter Sunday on 30 July.
He also said that since there was a possibility for some radical Muslim youth to attack General Secretary of the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), the SIS, in November 2016, took steps to inform of the matter to then Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, Karunasena Hettiarachchi.
He also said he had to be careful when such a report was being referred to the Ministry of Defence because of the conduct of the Government at the time. A particular group in that Government could have been unhappy with such a report, he added.
SDIG Jayawardena also said that he, as an independent State official, had fulfilled his duties irrespective of certain political influences exerted on him and that he had, on certain occasions, informed the Government on the actions of its own ministers.
The witness was also questioned regarding a statement made by former Minister, Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe at the Parliament regarding 32 Sri Lankans who had joined the Islamic State (IS) organisation in Syria. SDIG Jayawardena said that a number of Muslim organisations and politicians had denied Dr. Rajapakshe's statement at the time.
Among those who denied that were the National Shoora Council, the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka and former Ministers Rishad Bathiudeen and Rauff Hakeem and former Governor of the Eastern Province, Nazir Ahamed, he added. He also said that the SIS took steps to warn the relevant officials regarding fundamentalist Sri Lankan Muslims who were suspected to have joined the IS organisation even before Dr. Rajapakshe made the aforesaid statement.
SDIG Jayawardena had also sent a significant number of reports to former Minister of Law and Order, Sagala Ratnayake regarding matters pertaining to the IS ideology and its followers. The Chairman of the PCoI then questioned him as to who had instructed him to do so. In response, he said that he had sent those reports with the permission of the then Secretary to the Ministry of Defence. Answering further questions raised by the Commissioners, SDIG Jayawardena said he did so under the instructions of former President Maithripala Sirisena and then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.