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FBI identified Naufer Moulavi as Easter carnage mastermind – Public Security Minister

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Hakeem points finger at Israeli Intelligence

By Saman Indrajith

Public Security Minister Rear Admiral (Retd.) Sarath Weerasekara told Parliament yesterday that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had identified Naufer Moulavi as the mastermind behind the Easter Sunday terror attacks.

Making a special statement to the House in response to a statement by Attorney General Dappula de Livera, Minister Weerasekera said that according to the investigations carried out by the Sri Lanka Police and US detectives, it was clear that Moulavi had masterminded the terror attacks on 21 April, 2019, killing 270 persons and wounding another 500.

 “Naufer is the person who brought the IS ideology to Sri Lanka and roped in Mohamed Zahran in 2016,’ the Minister said, adding that it had been confirmed by the statements given by Zahran’s wife.

Minister Weerasekera said that it was Naufer who carried out IS training programmes in Sri Lanka and evidence from his documents and laptop support that conclusion. It was Moulavi who prepared the curriculum and course content of those IS training programmes. In addition, he supervised the training camps in Nuwara Eliya and Hambantota.

“Moulavi gave his sister-in-law in marriage to Zahran,” said the Minister adding that the FBI investigation also proved Moulavi was the main player in the attacks.

The Minister said it had come to light that several foreigners were involved in the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks and that an Australian national of Sri Lankan origin, Luqman Talib, had already been arrested in Qatar.  Lankan intelligence agencies had uncovered links between Thalib and Al-Qaeda and IS. “Thalib has two sons and one son is already under house arrest in Australia. Sri Lankan forces have also traced four Maldivian suspects who financed the National Organiser of the Jamaat-e-Islami organization, Sadik Abdullah, and provided weapons manufacturing equipment. There is no need to have any doubt over the investigations on the Easter Sunday terror attacks.”

Nine cases had been filed against 32 suspects so far and necessary steps would be taken to file cases against the other suspects as well, the Minister said.

SJB Gampaha District MP Dr Kavinda Jayawardana said Mohamed Naufer, Mohamed Anwar Mohamed Riskan and Ahamed Milhan Hayathu Mohamed had been charged last month in a federal court in Los Angeles. But there were cases against them here yet. “In addition, the Attorney General has mentioned that there is a conspiracy behind these investigations. We as Catholic MPs have a serious problem when people question these statements and developments. We hope that either the Minister of Public Security or the Minister of Justice will explain to this House the actual situation with regard to the investigations.”

SLMC Leader Rauff Hakeem said that there were reports that Israeli intelligence services had a hand behind the Easter Sunday attacks and its mastermind. Facts related to this and that Israeli intelligence connection were mentioned in the report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Easter Sunday attacks, he added. “Please check these facts and study those reports. There is an innocent poet called Altaf Nazim. He is being held for publishing a poetry book, which contains nothing related to terrorism. Please, get the book translated and see its content. Many international organisations including Amnesty International have written to the government in this regard. Public trust in investigations is eroded when you prosecute innocent people. I also want to say that the case against Hejaaz Hizbullah is totally fabricated. He is held on statements forcibly obtained from children. He is a lawyer and past student of S. Thomas’ College. When you go after the innocent you cannot capture the real culprits.”

Minister Weerasekera: All those who are spaking now were the MPs or Ministers of the Yahapalana government which should be held responsible for the crime of weakening our intelligence and letting this tragic incident happen in spite of warnings. When the SIS recommended the arrest of Zahran in 2018, the then government authorities neglected that. Had Zahran been arrested then nothing of this sort would have happened. Therefore, all those in that government should be held responsible for the crime. There had been 10 incidents prior to the April 21 attacks, but no arrests had been made.

SJB MP Ranjith Madduma Bandara: It is wrong. It was during our government an open warrant for the arrest of Zahran was obtained. The conspirators are in the government.

Minister Weerasekera: MP Hakeem mentioned Hejaaz Hizbullah. The latter was the one who operated the Save the Pearl organisation under which he gave lectures to indoctrinate Muslim youth to the terror outfit. We have evidence of his lectures brainwashing them to make them terrorists. Zahran and Naufer Moulavi too had conducted lectures on suicide attacks to children. Those lectures were organised by Save the Pearl.



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Govt. has already spent US$ 60-65mn to procure Covid-19 vaccines – Lalith Weeratunga

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By Ifham Nizam

All persons above 30 years old will be vaccinated against Covid-19 by September 15, Head of the Presidential Task Force for National Deployment and Vaccination Plan, Lalith Weeratunga said.

Speaking at the inauguration of the Presidential Media Centre (PMC) on Thursday at Janadhipathi Mawatha in Colombo, he said President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is keen on monitoring Covid-19 hotpots and intelligence services are doing a remarkable job in this regard.

Vaccines were distributed on the basis of the vulnerability of the areas, he noted.

He said the President has urged all Sri Lankans not be misled by the false propaganda about the vaccination drive. Everybody should come forward to receive the jab and help the government to overcome the socio-economic challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

He expressed optimism of completing the inoculation campaign by the end of December this year with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO).

“We have so far spent US$ 60 to 65 million to procure Covid-19 vaccines”, Weeratunga further said.

He said that more than 8.2 million people have so far received the first dose of the vaccines, while the second dose has already been administered to over 1.8 million.

The government aims to vaccinate 11.5 million people above 30 years by August 31, 2021 and another four million thereafter, he added.

“Moves are underway to give the vaccine to all Sri Lankans between the ages of 12 to 30”.

At present, a mobile vaccination service for those who are ill and unable to leave their homes is in operation on the instructions of the President, he said.

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Swiss team of experts due today to study SL’s agricultural landscape

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A renowned team of experts from Switzerland will arrive today (1) to study the country’s agriculture ecosystem. During the 10-day visit, they will meet with key industry stakeholders, visit various sites and facilities, and provide comprehensive training in composting and organic farming.

The team will meet with senior members of the Ministry of Agriculture and related State Ministries, Department of Agriculture, Centre of Excellence for Organic Agriculture (CEOA), National Fertilizer Secretariat, Sri Lanka Council for Agricultural Research Policy (SLCARP), Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Peradeniya, State Ministry of Skills Development, Vocational Education, Research & Innovation, Coconut Research Institute (CRI), Sri Lanka Tea Board, and Tea Research Institute (TRI).

They will visit and observe conventional and organic farmers in Kalpitiya, Thambuttegama, Weliweriya, Radawana, Belihuloya, and Nuwara Eliya. They will also tour markets, poultry farms, dairy farms, tea factories, tea estates and garbage collection centres, where garbage is collected from hotels to process organic manure.

This entire initiative is by A. Baur & Co. (Pvt.) Ltd (Baurs), a leading diversified business group and a name synonymous with pioneering scientific manuring in Sri Lanka, in partnership with two of the world’s leading institutions in organic agriculture based in Switzerland, a country that has the sixth highest penetration of organic farming in the world, with 16.5% of agriculture land being organic farmland.

The Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) is one of world’s leading organic farming research and technology transfer centres dedicated towards sustainable agriculture. The School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences (HAFL) of Bern University of Applied Sciences offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees including continuing education programs.

HAFL uses applied research to address contemporary issues and futuristic challenges and provides tailored consultancy across Switzerland and globally.

Further, these experts will also conduct two training sessions; one to various teams at the Baurs Fertilizer Factory (CMW) in Kelaniya and the other to Baurs’ staff, agents, dealers, key farmers and compost producers at the Baurs’ site in Anuradhapura. These will be with strict adherence to prevailing Covid-19 health guidelines.

The expert team brings with them years of both academic as well as practical experience, and includes Dr. Christoph Studer, professor of natural resources management at HAFL and Dr. Gurbir S Bhullar, senior scientist in tropical agroecosystems at HAFL, Paul van den Berge, senior consultant at FiBL and Dr. Jacques G. Fuchs, senior scientist in plant pathology and soil quality at FiBL.

With Sri Lanka’s transition to organic agriculture, this is a timely initiative and a need of the hour. The expert team will put together a detailed, practical and scientific plan that will help support Sri Lanka to successfully identify issues and constraints and overcome future challenges.

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CEB engineers ask President to allow completion of coal-fired power plant extension project

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‘Before the next power shortage in the country’

By Ifham Nizam

Perturbed by reports that the government will terminate the ongoing 300MW Lakvijaya coal-fired power plant extension project, the Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers Union (CEBEU) has appealed to the President to allow the completion of this project of national importance.

“We are certain that your Excellency will provide the Ministry of Power and the CEB the necessary directions and assistance to complete the extension project within the shortest possible time”, the Union’s President Eng. Saumya Kumarawadu, says in a letter to the President.

The President earlier decided to implement the 300MW coal power extension project considering the fact that the country is facing an imminent power shortage as a result of not constructing a single large low-cost power plant since 2014, he said.

However, officials at the plant complex said they have not been officially informed so far to halt work on the plant.

The Sri Lankan government has already saved more than USD 2 billion due to the three coal-fired power plants at the Lakvijaya Power Plant Complex in Norochcholai, officials said.

The extension project is now underway with the China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) investing USD 4 million, while the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) has injected USD 1 million, they said.

The proposed plant, the fourth to be built at Norochcholai will translate into an annual saving of more than Rs. 27 billion to the government, former CEB, Chairman Eng. Vijitha Herath said.

Last year, Cabinet endorsed the fourth unit should given to CMEC considering the substantial revenue already saved due to the contribution from coal-fired plants under operation.

Kumarawadu said the proposed 300MW extension project will generate nearly two billion units of electricity per year. The fuel cost per unit of the existing coal plant is Rs.10 less than the next lowest thermal option available, furnace oil power plants. Hence, the average annual saving to the country by this plant will be around Rs. 20 billion.

 The savings compared to costly emergency power will be in the range of Rs. 30 to 40 billion per year. The price of LNG is also rapidly increasing compared to coal and even LNG. The cost difference between coal and LNG will be around of Rs. 3 to 6 per unit and savings will be in the range of Rs. 6-12 billion or more annually. So, it is evident that this extension plant will immensely help to overcome the financial crisis both in CEB and CPC and will also provide immense relief to the Treasury as well, he pointed out.

 He further said the investment for the new extension unit was comparatively low. All other power projects in the pipeline, including large-scale renewables, demand enormous investments for infrastructure development with long time span for implementation.

“This should be seriously considered by the government in a situation where the country is facing severe financial hardships due to Covid-19 pandemic,” the CEBEU President stressed.

 All preliminary work related to the project such as comprehensive feasibility studies, finalizing technical requirements, comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) studies, commercial agreements are completed now, he said.

It is just a matter of beginning construction work at site and completing the project before the next power shortage in the country, he added.

The CEBEU also said that there is a massive propaganda campaign against coal and one of the false ideologies promoted by these forces is that many countries are moving away from coal. While agreeing that coal power development is on a declining phase in wealthy developed countries, developing countries have not stopped constructing new coal plants mainly to ease the financial burden on their national economies.

 Citing examples, he said there are new coal development plans earmarked in countries like India, Bangladesh and Vietnam in the range from 22,000MW to 66,000 MW the next 10-12 years. Germany, one of the leading wealthy countries in renewable energy development, commissioned the 1100MW Datteln 4 coal power plant in May 2020. Dubai, another country with a very strong economy is constructing the 2,400MW Hassyan coal plant. The initial 600MW unit of the plant is to be commissioned in 2023, Kumarawadu explained.

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