Sirisena instructed not to probe Islamist extremists

Former President of Sri Lanka - Maithripala Sirisena

Former President Maithripala Sirisena, between 2017 and 2018, had instructed the then Inspector General of Police (IGP) Pujith Jayasundara not to conduct open investigations into Islamist extremists, including National Thowheed Jama’ath Leader Zaharan Hashim.

This was revealed when retired IGP Pujith Jayasundara, yesterday (23), testified before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) investigating the bombings on Easter Sunday 21 April 2019.

“Sirisena said, this could create trouble for the Government and asked me not to conduct open investigations into extremism. He also said monitoring these issues would be enough and State Intelligence Service Director, Senior DIG Nilantha Jayawardena was doing it,” he said.

Jayasundara said he came to know about the threat posed by Islamist extremists by 2017 and that he, thereafter, tried to bring it to the attention of institutions under the IGP. “I also kept several political figures informed on the issue,” he added.

Responding to a question raised by a member of the PCoI as to whether the reports with regard to these issues were submitted to the weekly intelligence review meetings at the time, Jayasundara said the reports by Terrorist Investigation Division (TID), the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), were not being submitted to the meetings. He also said he, as the IGP, took steps to inform the then Defence Secretaries and political leaders with regard to this issue.

Testifying further, Jayasundara went on to say, “When I went to meet the President, Prime Minister and officials, I used to take officers under me who conducted investigations into these matters.”

When questioned as to who the other officers who went with him, the witness said former Director of the TID, ex-DIG Nalaka de Silva had accompanied him to meet then President Sirisena on three occasions. He also said when he met Sirisena, several matters pertaining to Islamist extremism were explained to him. “Also, de Sliva went to meet former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe with me,” he added.

When an Additional Solicitor General (ASG) questioned him as to what the response of the former President was when the matters were explained to him, Jayasundara said de Sliva was advised by the former President to carefully deal with this issue. The former President said the status of such activities was not serious in Sri Lanka and that there could be an impact on the Government, since there were some Muslim MPs and Ministers, he added.

(Source: Ceylon Today – By Buddhika Samaraweera)

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