CID sergeant tipped off Harin’s father about Easter attack a day earlier

Harin Fernando

A CID officer involved in a number of investigations into Islamic extremism had made a six-minute phone call to Nihal Fernando, MP Harin Fernando’s father on April 20, 2019 and probably warned the latter of the impending suicide bomb attacks, the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) investigating the Easter Sunday attacks was informed on Wednesday.

Nihal Fernando was in the ICU of Nawaloka Hospital when he had received the call. He had informed his daughter not to go to church on Easter Sunday.

Around 8.12 pm on April 20, 2019, the CID officer, sergeant Nandalal had taken a 356 second call to Nihal Fernando. Nandalal was involved in the investigations as regards attacks on Buddha statues in Mawanella, the Wanathawilluwa jihadist training camp, the van that transported explosives to Wanathawilluwa and NTJ Physical Instructor Army Mohideen.

When Mohideen was arrested, he had Nandalal’s number in his phone.

“Is Nandalal known to you?” the Attorney General’s Department official who led the evidence asked Harin Fernando. The witness said that he was not aware of Nandalal’s existence.

“Was your father in contact with the CID?” AG’s representative asked the MP.

“He was in contact with the CID about a financial fraud in which he was the victim,” the witness said.

Fernando said he had been in Badulla on the day of the Easter Sunday attacks and that it was former minister Neomal Fernando, who had informed him of the blasts. Then he had called former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and attempted to contact Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith but in vain, Fernando said.

“At this point my sister called me and she was very upset. She told me that our father had been aware that the attacks would be carried out. Then, I called Ranil Wickremesinghe and informed that my father had prior information about the blasts. Wickremesinghe asked me to come to Colombo immediately. Then, I called former state minister Ruwan Wijewardene and he said former Army Commander Mahesh Senanayake was in Diyathalawa and that a chopper was on its way to get him. I also could get into that chopper, which picked me up from the Badulla Church.”

Fernando said once he reached Colombo he had visited his father. “When I asked he told me, “I know a lot more than you.” He was sick and I couldn’t get any information out of him. He passed away a few weeks later,” Fernando said.

The witness said that he then went to see former Prime Minister and Wickremesinghe showed him a letter sent by DIG Priyalal, who headed the Special Protection Range (SPR) to heads of Ministerial Security Division (MSD), the Judicial Security Division (JSD), the Diplomatic Security Division (DSD), the Security Divisions of former Presidents Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and Mahinda Rajapaksa asking them to be extra cautious on April 21, 2019 as there was the possibility of a terrorist attack.

“This letter was proof that many people in the police and intelligence services were aware of the intelligence of attacks. This is what I told the press on April 21, 2019 as well,” he said.

Earlier retired DIG Lucien Priyalal told the PCoI that on April 10, he had received a warning of a possible terror attack, in the form of a letter with a three-page annexure, sent by CNI Sisira Mendis to the then IGP Pujith Jayasundara. Jayasundara had sent it to SDIG of Western Province Munasinghe, SDIG crimes, the STF, DIG special protection range and Director of the Counter Terrorism Investigation Division on April 09.  Priyalal said that he had seen it at around 2.30 pm on April 10.

Priyalal said that he had five divisions under him and right after receiving the documents he had informed the Directors of the warning over the telephone.

The witness said that, on April 11, he had sent the documents he received from the IGP and a letter he had prepared to the directors of all the divisions under his supervision. DIG Priyalal said that directors had been instructed to inform the officers under them of the warning.

Priyalal said that the Director of the MSD provided security to 268 VIPs, and the officers who provided security to the VIPs had been informed by the MSD Director. Representatives from each protection unit had been summoned for a special instructions session, too, he said.

(Source: The Island – By Rathindra Kuruwita)