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‘Funds poured into NTJ kitty from all over the world’

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Ex-Chairman of National Thowheed Jamaath tells PCoI

By Rathindra Kuruwita

Muslims from all over the world donated to the National Thowheed Jamaath (NTJ), a former chairman of the terrorist organisation, Mohamed Yusuf Mohamed Tawfiq Moulavi, who is currently in remand custody told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) investigating the Easter Sunday attacks on Saturday.

“I don’t know much about the specifics. I don’t know who exactly donated to the NTJ account. But there is a ledger on the expenses. I maintained that with the NTJ Treasurer, a man named Mastakeen.”

However, Mohamed insisted that he was not an extremist and that if he had known that NTJ leader Zahran Hashim was an adherent of ISIS ideology, he would never have joined the NTJ.

The representative of the Attorney General’s Department (AGD), who led evidence, told the witness that he had shared some videos of Zahran on his social media platforms. Given that Zahran’s posts were sectarian and fundamentalist by nature how Mohamed could claim that he had not been aware of Zahran’s ideology, the counsel asked.

“I only shared Zahran’s speeches that I agreed with. I have not shared any speech that promotes extremism or ISIS,” the witness said.

Although Mohamed said that he was not aware of Zahran’s extremism, the AG’s Department representative said the NTJ’s media unit had boosted Zahran’s extremist speeches.

The counsel asked how come Mohamed, the Chairman of the NTJ, had missed those extremist speeches.

“I am human. I could not observe Zahran all the time. I have also not seen any of these videos that promote extremism,” the witness said.

Mohamed said there had been a clash in Kattankudy on 10 March 2017 between the NTJ and members of Sunnath Wal Jamath group and that Zharan had gone missing thereafter. Since then he had had no contacts with Zahran, the witness said, stressing that he served as the Chairman of the NTJ in 2016 and joined the organization upon a request by Zahran Hashim.

Members of the PCoI then asked the witness when he had found out that Zahran was involved in the Easter Sunday attacks.

Mohamed: “Two days after the attack, the CID and the TID came to my house and asked if I could identify Zahran’s head. I was the one who identified it.

A Commissioner: “How did NTJ devotees respond to Zahran’s involvement?

Mohamed: “They were angry with Zahran.”

A Commissioner: Was the NTJ registered with the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU)?

MohamedNo.



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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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