State Intelligence Service received information on possible second attack

A suicide bomber of Easter attacks in Sri Lanka

The State Intelligence Service (SIS), following the Easter Sunday 21 April 2019 bombings, received information that close relatives of the bombers, killed in the Easter Sunday bombings, could launch a second attack targeting hospitals, shopping malls, supermarkets, Police Stations and the Indian High Commission, said former Director of the SIS, Senior SDIG, Nilantha Jayawardena.

He said this yesterday (24) while testifying before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry probing the 21 April 2019 Easter Sunday bombings.

He also said he had then taken steps to submit a report containing information about the close associates of National Thowheed Jama’ath Leader Zaharan Hashim on 24 April 2019 to the SDIG of the CID. He added that his intention was to paralyse Zaharan’s network as it was revealed that Zaharan had died, but his network was still active.

Meanwhile, a person by the name of Mohamed Zaharan Fazlur Rahman, who lived in the Matale area, was also included in the relevant letter, as the SIS had received information that Rahman was a strong supporter of Zaharan, he noted and added that the Islamic State (IS) had claimed responsibility for the Easter Sunday bombings following the intervention of Rahman.

He further said that on the same day, 24 April 2019, the then IGP had sent a letter to senior Police officers containing information on some alleged attacks to be carried out in Sri Lanka by IS followers in the future. However, investigations carried out by the SIS into that information did not reveal enough information about such a plan, he said.

He also submitted a letter to the PCoI, through which senior Police officials had been directed to take necessary action regarding information that a group could launch an attack targeting mosques. Through that letter, the IGP had instructed the Police officials to meet the Maulavis and personally inform them of the dangers of such an attack, SDIG Jayawardena added.

He also said that by that time, 11 men and six women had been identified as being capable of launching a series of suicide attacks, adding that close relatives of the bombers who died in the attack on 21 April 2019 were more likely to launch such an attack.

SDIG Jayawardena added, “Information had been received that people dressed in military uniforms were planning to launch the attack using vans. There were reports of possible attacks targeting five locations, including Batticaloa, and that another attack could be carried out targeting people arriving in the area after the initial attacks.”

The witness said that the SIS had sent information to the relevant officials in this connection. He said that the letter sent by the SIS also contained information about Jalal Kital alias Rilwan Hashim, the brother of Zaharan. He has also forwarded the relevant letter to the Ministry of Defence, the Chief of National Intelligence and the IGP, as well as the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS).

In response to a question from members of the PCoI as to why the letter was forwarded to the CDS, he said he had been instructed to forward the reports prepared by the SIS to the CDS at the National Security Council (NSC) meeting on 22 April 2019.

In response to a question from an Additional Solicitor General as to who attended the relevant NSC meeting on 22 April 2019, he said that former President Maithripala Sirisena, the Defence Secretary and Secretary to the President were also present. However, he said he did not remember whether former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe or State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardene were present at the meeting. He further said that the then IGP Jayasundara also attended the NSC meeting held on that day for the first time since October 2018.

(Source: Ceylon Today – By Buddhika Samaraweera)