Mohammed Azam Mohammed Mubarak and Mohammed Hastun, who blew themselves up inside the Kingsbury Hotel and at the Katuwapitiya Church respectively. On April 11 2019, they purchased nine backpacks and eight shawls that National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) members wore in the video pledging allegiance to ISIS, the PCoI probing Easter Sunday attacks was informed, on Tuesday (27).
Testifying before the PCoI, an officer attached to the CID played CCTV footage and bills pertaining to the above mentioned shops in Colombo.
“The suicide bombers visited Decathlon, a sports shop in Battaramulla to purchase backpacks and a shop in Grandpass, Colombo 14 to get the shawls,” the CID officer said.
They had stayed in a safe house at Paraththa Road, Panadura before the attack, the witness said.
The CID also found empty polythene bags with ball bearings, vehicle number plates, a bill from a car park in Negombo and several empty chemical cans from the Panadura safe house.
The CID officer said: “The NTJ members hired a lorry from a cab service at Boralesgamuwa to transfer materials from Panadura to Kalmunai on April 20, 2019 and the information provided by the cab driver allowed the CID to detect the safe house in Kalmunai.”
The owner of the Panadura safe house, Abdul Mohammed Ilaham, testifying before the PCoI said that on February 2, 2019 two NTJ members had signed the agreement to rent his house. The NTJ members had advanced Rs. 480,000, he said.
Earlier it was revealed that 12 NTJ members had remained in the East to carry out a second wave of attacks in August 2019.
The witness, an SIS officer, whose name cannot be divulged due to a request made by the PCoI, said the NTJ had maintained eight safe houses in the East and they had stockpiled explosives.
He said: “The white clothes that were brought from Giriulla a few days before the attacks were to be worn by those who were to carry out the second wave of attacks. They were planning to attack the Kandy Esala Perahera. The 12 terrorists killed in Sainthamaruthu were to carry it out.”
The witness added that if attacking Kandy Esala Perahera was not possible, NTJ members would have attacked other temples. If the SIS, the police, army and the STF had not carried out a combined operation in the East after April 21, 2019 and eradicated those who were to carry out the second wave; there would have been disastrous consequences, he said.
(Source: The Island – By Rathindra Kuruwita)