A senior officer attached to the State Intelligence Service (SIS), after his retirement, had connections with an Islamic organisation that wanted to establish an Islamic state, a senior SIS official investigating Islamic extremism on Thursday night informed the PCoI probing Easter Sunday attacks.
The witness made the above statement in response to a question raised by the Commissioners whether current or retired government officials had joined organisations or movements which promote ISIS ideology.
The SIS officer also said that there were cases where family members of senior Muslim government officials had joined organisations which follow the ISIS ideology and promote the Islamic State concept.
“During the investigation we received information about a son and a son-in-law of a retired judge, who had joined a Salafi movement (often referred to as the Wahhabis) in the country. The son-in-law had taught at an Arabic college named Al Kimma and some Muslim youth from Kerala had studied under him. Most of these youth later went to Afghanistan to join ISIS and most were killed,” witness informed the Commission.
The witness also informed the Commission that the former senior officer of SIS had a connection with Jamaat-e-Islami organisation but SIS did not find him as an active member of that organisation.
“When the public were against the concept of Islamic State, Jamaat-e-Islami removed that objective. However, we also found information on Sadiq Abdul-Haq, who was involved in vandalising Buddha statues in Mawanella in 2018, had travelled to Syria in 2014 and studied about the Islamic State concept. He was a strong member of the Jamaat-e-Islami students’ wing,” witness informed the Commission.
The SIS officer also informed the Commission that members of the National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ) and another group Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim (JMI) had joined together to conduct the Easter attacks.
Earlier, another SIS officer informed the Commission that 12 NTJ members had stayed in the East to conduct a second wave of attacks on August 2019. “Their plan was to attack the Kandy Esela Perahera. However, their disastrous plan had failed after all forces and police carried out a combined operation in Saindamarudu on April 26, 2019,” witness informed the Commission.
The SIS officer also said that it had received information about NTJ training camps in Nuwaraeliya by March 2019, after questioning those arrested during the Wanathawilluwa explosives raid.
Testifying further, the SIS officer investigating Islamic extremism informed the Commission that the SIS had submitted a report of 94 extremist persons on October 31, 2017 to former IGP Pujith Jayasundara.
The witness said that in the report, the SIS had included names of Lathief Jameel Mohammed, the suicide bomber who blew himself up in Tropical Inn, Dehiwala, Zahran Hashim, leader of NTJ, Rilwan and Zainee, brother of Zahran Hashim and strong NTJ members, Mohammed Ibrahim Mohammed Nawfer, Zahran’s mentor and the person that influenced Zahran to support ISIS.
“Over 80% of those included in the list are now in jail for plotting the Easter Sunday attacks. In 2018, we requested the government to take necessary action against these 94 persons mentioned in the list and we also warned senior government officials that if these people were not arrested, there will be a terrorist attack,” the SIS officer informed the Commission.
The witness also said that the SIS had provided the list of 94 Islamic extremists to all the police stations and as a result of that the police had arrested Mohammed Ibrahim Mohammed Nawfer, Zahran’s mentor, in Dambulla area on the day of the Easter Sunday attacks.
"The role of the SIS is to gather information and report, but after Easter Sunday attacks we decided to go beyond our normal procedure. We had assisted the Police and STF to find vital information pertaining to the second wave of attacks and by that we stopped a disastrous situation,” witness informed the Commission. (Yoshitha Perera)