Tawfiq Mawlavi tells Easter Attacks PCoI: Zaharan was expelled from NTJ
By Buddhika Samaraweera
Mawlavi Mohammad Yusuf Mohammad Tawfiq, a former Chairman of the National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ), said Zaharan Hashim was expelled from the NTJ because he was identified as an Islamic State ideologue.
Tawfiq is currently in remand custody in connection with the Easter Sunday bombings and testified before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Easter Sunday bombings on 24 October.
He also said Zaharan had gone missing after a clash at Aliyar Junction on 10 March 2017 and that he had never met Zaharan since then. Tawfiq further added that people had complained to him about the extremist views that Zaharan had spread on social Media. According to those complaints, I was looking into his extremist discourses, he added.
“Zaharan was expelled from NTJ in December 2017 and the public was informed about it on 28 or 29 December 2017 through social Media,” he said. He further said that in 2018, he had published two related advertisements in two national newspapers.
When asked when he joined the NTJ, the witness said he had joined the organisation in 2016 at Zaharan's request. When asked how the NTJ received such large sums of money, the witness said Muslims around the world may have donated money to it.
He added that he was initially paid around Rs 20,000 to work for the NTJ, which was later increased to Rs 30,000.
Meanwhile, a Senior State Counsel also questioned the witness regarding a bank account called 'Social Work' belonging to the NTJ.
Tawfiq, in reply said, “The NTJ had such a bank account. Various donations were made to the account for the social service activities performed by the organisation and for the construction of the Thowheed Jamath Mosque. I don’t know how the money got into that account, which was maintained in a private bank.” He also said he has the accounts of how the money was spent in that account.
However, when asked by a member of the Commission as to why he had shared the videos of Zaharan’s speeches on social media, the witness said he did not share anything supportive for Islamic State ideology or extremism.
When asked whether the NTJ had the approval of the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama, he said such approval had not been obtained.