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Former Army Chief Senanayake exposes failure of Sirisena, Ranil, NSC, CID, TID

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had not taken National Security seriously or fully cooperated at the National Security Council (NSC) meetings, former Army Commander Mahesh Senanayake on Wednesday (7) told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) investigating the Easter Sunday attacks.

Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) had given prior warnings about National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) and Zahran Hashim and the threat they posed to National Security in 2018. However, no official at the National Security Council (NSC) had taken these warnings seriously, he said.

During the Digana riots the DMI had warned of possible threats which Zahran could pose in the future.

“The DMI asked relevant officials to arrest Zahran after those riots, but none of them heeded warnings.”

Senanayake said that Zahran had been preaching IS ideology according to information received by the DMI in 2018. The DMI had informed the NSC that Zahran was encouraging Muslim youth to embrace the IS ideology.

Senanayake said that former President Maithripala Sirisena, too, had been aware of the situation since 2018. Commissioners then asked the witness why the security forces had failed to take necessary action against Zahran and his associates.

“There was a lot of competition among investigation agencies and they did not cooperate with the DMI when they conducted inquiries. If the institutions with power to enforce the law had arrested Zahran, the terror attacks would not have happened.”

The commissioners then asked the witness what institutions had not cooperated with the DMI.

The former Army Commander said that investigations units attached to the Police, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) had acted in an uncooperative manner.

When the Wanathawilluwa jihadist training camp was raided, the CID could have obtained the support from the DMI because the DMI had a huge network that could have assisted the inquiry, the ex-Army Chief said.

“Information being revealed at this Commission on Zahran and his associates is not new to me. We had been providing such information even before Easter Sunday attacks.”



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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’

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By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.

Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.

A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.

The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.

According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.

The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.

DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners

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By Norman Palihawadane

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.

Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.

The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered

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A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.

Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.

The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.

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