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Zahran had a free run in conducting terrorist training camps across country

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) leader Zahran Hashim and his associates had operated 10 training centres in 2018 in the Nuwara-Eliya, Hambantota and Mawanella areas, the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) investigating the Easter Sunday attacks was told yesterday.

Sub Inspector of Police (SI) Srimal Sanjeewa Sampath of the CID attached to the PCoI said that five camps had been located in Hambantota, three in Nuwara Eliya and one in Mawanella.

SI Sampath said he had conducted investigations into five camps conducted by Zahran and his associates at Sippikulam, Hambantota. A large house belonging to a person named Sayyadu Mohammad Fauzan Maulana had been acquired by Zahran and his group for a short term stay through the caretaker of the house, Sayyadu Masoor Maulana.

The first camp in Hambantota was held from 7 to 8 July, 2018, the second camp from 20 to 22 July, the third camp from 26 to 28 August, the fourth camp from 3 to 4 November and the fifth camp from 1 to 3 December, 2018, he said.

The witness said that between 20 and 40 individuals had undergone training at each of those camps and vans had been used to transport participants. He added that training on the use of T-56 assault rifles and pistols had been imparted by a person named Mohamed Ahmad Milhan.

SI Sampath said that Zahran had lectured on Islamist extremism and Zahran’s mentor, Mohammed Ibrahim Nawfar had lectured on the Islamic State (IS) organization at these camps.

He also said Zahran’s brother Rilwan Hashim and Atchchi Muhammadu Muhammadu Hastun too had trained participants on bomb making and use of explosives. The witness also said that they had preached about clashes between Muslims and Sinhalese that took place in Kandy, Digana and Beruwala areas.

Sampath added, “Zaharan’s elder brother, Mohamed Zeini alias Sinna Moulavi and Alawdeen Ahmed Muad, who carried out the suicide bombing at St. Anthony’s Church in Kochchikade attended the training camps. In addition, the main suspects in destroying several Buddha statues in the Mawanella in December 2018, had also participated in training sessions,”

Zahran and his team had also run two training camps at the “Blue Eye Lodge” in Blackpool, Nuwara-Eliya.

The two training camps had been run at the location from 6 to 7 September, and from 16 to 18 November 2018. Between 20 and 25 persons had participated in those camps.  Those who participated had been given lectures on IS, Islamist extremism, and weapons training. Another training programme was held at Thakshila Holiday Inn in Nuwara-Eliya in May 2018.

He also said that Sadiq had also preached extremism at a workshop for students who were scheduled to sit the Ordinary Level examination at a Thowheed mosque in the Delgahagoda area in Hingula from 14 to 18 December, 2018. About 30 students had attended the lecture. They were residents of Mawanella and Kadugannawa areas, the witness said.

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Udaya questions why CPC prevented from entering LPG market

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Minister Gammanpila at the abandoned Sapugaskanda facility

…reveals Rs 37 mn loss suffered during Asantha’s tenure as Chairman

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila recently alleged that the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) had suffered Rs 37 mn loss due to an abortive bid made by the state enterprise to enter the LPG (liquid petroleum gas) in 2008.

Lawmaker Gammanpila, who is also the leader of the Pivithuru Hela Urumaya, said that the CPC had made the attempt in violation of an agreement with Shell and Laugfs Gas to supply its entire output of LPG from the Sapugaskanda refinery to the above mentioned companies.

The Minister said so after inspecting an abandoned gas filling facility at the CPC facility at Sapugaskanda. The visit took place, on Thursday (24), after a three-member committee headed by the Energy Ministry’s head of Internal Audit D. P. S. J. Kumara inquired into the failed operation.

The CPC undertook the project during former national cricketer Ashantha de Mel’s tenure as the CPC Chairman. A. H. M. Fowzie had been the minister in charge of the subject.

The Minister called for a report when the media revealed that the facility had been abandoned a decade back.

Gammanpila vowed to reveal the person who had caused losses to the CPC, having misled its Board of Directors as regards the viability of the project.

The PHU leader requested state enterprise Litro Gas to explore the possibility of accommodating the facility in its current production setup. The minister described the facility installed at Sapugaskanda as technologically outdated even at the time 2008 administration acquired it.

When the CPC made an attempt to enter the LPG market, Laugfs successfully moved the Supreme Court against it. The CPC abandoned the facility following the Supreme Court directive.

The Energy Minister questioned how the CPC had been prevented from entering the gas market. Underscoring the importance of market competition, the lawmaker said that the Energy Ministry intended to inquire into how the CPC reached an understanding with competitors that prevented the state enterprise from entering the LPG market. The minister said that he would examine the obstacles placed before the CPC in entering the market without undermining Litro.

Declaring that Sri Lanka had substantial natural gas deposits in the Mannar basin, the Energy Minister said that the government intended to enter the gas market. Attorney-at-law Gammanpila said that a new enterprise would be established under the CPC to provide healthy competition.

Addressing the post-Cabinet media briefing on Sept. 10, co-Cabinet spokesperson Gammanpila said that Surath Ovitigama had been named the Director-General of the Petroleum Resources Development Secretariat and Saliya Wickramasuriya had been appointed advisor.

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Saumya Liyanage removed from posts of Dean and Professor 

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From M.A. Kaleel, Kalmunai Corr. 

Professor Saumya Liyanage of the University of Visual and Performing Arts has been summarily removed from the posts of Professor and Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies he was holding at the university. 

 The decision was taken by the University Council chaired by the Competent Authority of the University Professor Abayaratne Bandara. 

 According to the Council, the decision for his removal is that he had not obtained a postgraduate degree by research (Master or PhD) within the probationary period of eight years. When a lecturer is appointed on probationary basis, he is given eight years to complete postgraduate degree––a master’s or a PhD.  

Liyanage holds a PhD from La Trobe University, Australia and he claims he submitted his PhD thesis within the stipulated period of 8 years, and the university has recommended him for the award of PhD with minor corrections. The effective date of PhD could be the date of submission of corrected thesis or the date of annual convocation. It differs from university to university. 

Liyanage, who joined the university in 2007, was supposed to obtain his PhD before 2015, but the university has taken 5 years to detect that he has not completed his PhD within the probationary period. He was promoted as a Professor and the Dean of Graduate Studies.  

 Professor Abayaratne Bandara also served as the Director General of National Institute of Education.  When Bandula Gunawardena became the Education Minister, he removed Dr. Upali S. Sedera from the post of DG only a few months after his appointment and appointed Professor Abayaratne Bandara to the post.

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SF under delusion that he is still Army Chief – SLPP MP

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‘Even Vasu is capable of flooring him’

By Saman Indrajith

Badulla District SLPP MP Chamara Sampath Dassanayake told Parliament, yesterday, that the SJB Gampaha District MP Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka was under the delusion that he was still commanding the army.

“He should realise that he is in Parliament. Yesterday, he threatened to take on the entire front row of government ranks single-handedly. We do not need an entire row of members to match him. We could send a single person that is our minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara.

MP Fonseka thinks all those here have passed only Grade Eight. What is wrong with a person with that kind of educational qualification becoming an MP? What about the late Mr. D. S. Senanayake? He was the first prime minister of the country.  He had passed only the fifth standard. We have had leaders who had not studied beyond Grade Eight. Didn’t they govern this country well? On the contrary, where is UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was considered educated and intelligent? What has he done? He is not even in this Parliament today. Was he able to govern this country successfully?”

“We know a lot about him and his ways of conduct. When he was the commander of the Army he sent a helicopter to Colombo to fetch two loaves of bread, while denying so many wounded soldiers the chance to be flown to Colombo. He also brought water from the Iyakkachi well in Vettailaikerni to Colombo because that was his favourite drinking water. We know all this”.

MP Dassanayake said that they had come to Parliament with great trust in it. Yet, he said that there were no thugs in the parliament and no room would be spared to turn the Ninth parliament into the same situation as the Eighth parliament.

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