Kabir does not remember phone call
By Buddhika Samaraweera
Two days before the 21 April 2019 Easter Sunday bombings, a 147 seconds (two minutes and 27 seconds) long telephone conversation had taken place between former Minister Kabir Hashim and Abdul Latheef Hakeem Mohamed, the brother of Abdul Latheef Jameel Mohamed, the latter who detonated the suicide bomb at the Tropical Inn Lodge in Dehiwala.
This was revealed when Hashim, on 15 October, testified before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Easter Sunday bombings.
A Senior State Counsel (SSC) questioned the witness as to whether he had received a call from one of the suicide bombers two days before the attacks.
In response, he said: “ I was summoned to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) in December last year, where I was told that I had received a phone call with a duration of 147 seconds from a person named Hakeem two days before the Easter Sunday attacks. I said that I did not remember. I was then informed that Hakeem was the brother of the person who detonated the bomb at the Tropical Inn Lodge in Dehiwala,”
However, Hashim said that he did not remember receiving such a phone call.
Meanwhile, the Commission also drew his attention to the incident of several Buddha statues being vandalised at several places in the Mawanella area during the period from 23 to 26 December 2018.
He was questioned regarding the incident where one of his Coordinating Secretaries, Mohammad Thasleem, was shot in early 2019. Tasleem had provided information to the operation, which discovered a stock of explosives in the Wanathawilluwa area. In response, the witness said that he had introduced Tasleem to assist the CID in its investigation into the explosives found in the Wanathawilluwa area. “He has a sound knowledge of the society and roads. Only I and CID officers knew that Thasleem had assisted in this operation, but someone shot Thasleem after this Wanathawilluwa operation and I informed the Cabinet of Ministers about this. I also pointed out that it was a threat to my life as well,” he added.
According to him, former President Maithripala Sirisena had then informed Hashim that he would be invited to the National Security Council (NSC) one day. Sirisena said that I could discuss all these matters at the NSC. However, I was not invited to the NSC, he explained.
Hashim further said that all the Muslim Ministers had resigned after the Easter Sunday bombings without supporting the No-Confidence Motion against then Minister Rishad Bathiudeen, not in the hope of protecting him. “At that time, I was the Chairman of the United National Party. The Opposition brought a No-Confidence Motion in Parliament against Bathiudeen saying that he was connected to the bombings, but it seemed to be against the entire Government. At that time, our Ministers said that we could not win this. Our own people told us that we would not be able to go to the villages if we voted in favour of Bathiudeen. I then spoke to the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Then we, the Muslim Ministers decided to resign from all the Ministerial posts since Bathiudeen would have to resign as well. When Bathiudeen was just a Parliamentarian, the Police could have carried out the investigations easily,” he added.