ASP claims impending Easter attack not conveyed to Sirisena’s security

BY Rathindra Kuruwita

Officers attached to former President Maithripala Sirisena’s security had not been aware of intelligence reports on a possible terrorist attack on Easter Sunday, ASP S.G Satharasinghe, who served in the Presidential Security Division (PSD) yesterday, told the PCoI probing Easter Sunday suicide attacks.

The witness said that the PSD usually prepared an evaluation report after its monthly meetings with DIGs and a member from State Intelligence Service (SIS). During those meetings, PSD officials were informed of matters that were related to the security of the President. If the President was to attend a meeting, PSD officers would be informed any potential threats at the venue.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Ayesha Jinasena then asked the witness whether a security evaluation meeting had been held regarding an event at the Weber stadium, Batticaloa, on April 12, 2019. The event was attended by nearly 5,000 people.

Satharasinghe said that there had been no security evaluation before the meeting. "There was no security evaluation meeting but then SIS Director Nilantha Jayawardena had sent a classified letter on April 10, 2019 about the security in Batticaloa," he said. The letter stated that there was no clear security threat but the PSD should be vigilant in certain areas.

"The letter said that there is ISIS followers in the area. But there was no mention of an immediate threat," the witness informed the Commission.

However, on April 09, 2019 then SIS Director Sisira Mendis sent a letter to the IGP, with copies to CNI and CID, warning that National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) leader Zahran Hashim and his associates were planning a suicide attack.

Satharasinghe said that during the evaluation meeting before the 2019 Independence Day, SSP Lalith Nanayakkara, attached to the SIS, had told the PSD that there were 125 people connected to ISIS in Sri Lanka and two of them lived in Wellampitiya and Dehiwala areas.

"Nanayakkara also mentioned that ISIS was planning to attack other countries, following the military setbacks in Syria and Iraq," the witness said.

Satharasinghe said that the PSD had been informed of the presence of Islamic extremists in the country during security evaluation meetings from March 2019 onwards. Head of PSD, DIG Rohan Silva and Police Superintendent attached to SIS Janaka Seneviratne had participated in those meetings, the witness informed the Commission.


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