Ceylon Thawheed Jama'ath (CTJ) General Secretary Abdul Razick who testified before the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) looking into the Easter Sunday Attacks, yesterday said he had informed Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) about National Thawheed Jama'ath (NTJ) Chief Zaharan about violent attacks in 2016.
Razick said Zaharan showed signs of going in for violence when he started preaching on jihadism in 2016. “Jihadism is something which has to be practiced by Islamic nations though the security forces. It is not something which has to be practiced by non-Islamic nations".
He said he had not associated with Zaharan but had met Mohammadu Hasthun who blew himself up at the Katuwapitiya church on April 21, 2019. “Hasthun was a member of Ceylon Thowheed Jama'ath. He came with a Hindu girl and said he wants to marry her and also wanted to convert her to Islam. He also wanted a place to lodge.
We did not agree to provide him with lodging since he was with a girl. Then they went away. Later he informed us that he had given up Islamism and had left Ceylon Thowheed Jama'ath,” Razick said.
The following is excepts of his evidence before the PSC:
Committee Chairman Ananda Kumarasiri: You can tell about your organisation but we will have to stop if you say something outside the mandate of the committee.
Abdul Razick (AR) I am the General Secretary of CTJ. CTJ was formed in 2017. We broke away from Sri Lanka Thowheed Jama'ath (SLTJ) in 2017.
AR: This is because we did not agree on the principles practiced by the SLTJ. We are a group which is committed to spread what was thought by Prophet Mohammad in its original form. We denounce the teachings of some Islamic preachers who say donating blood is against Islamism. We have carried out blood donation campaigns and donated 30,000 pints of blood to the blood bank. We are also engaged in various charity work.
Committee Chairman: You left SLTJ because of its weaknesses?
AR: Because we did not approve some of their teachings.
Ravi Karunanayake (RK): Is your organisation based in the East?
AR: We have 22 branches in the Central Province. There are 22 branches in that province. There are branches in Batticaloa and Ampara. We have 11 branches in Colombo as well.
RK: You have made statements which had hurt the Buddhists. You have said that Buddha had consumed human flesh. Did you not know that such statements would create problems?
AR: I made a mistake. It was a Buddhist monk who had accidentally consumed human flesh. Some Buddhist monks called me and said that I was wrong. Then I made a public apology and wrote to the Mahanayakas explaining them the truth.
RK: Have you made any defamatory statement?
AR: I spoke about the triple gem.
Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka (SF): A learned lecturer like you cannot afford to make a mistake?
AR: Everyone makes mistakes.
SF: Don't you think that you should learn about things first and then should start preaching?
AR: I realised about my mistakes later.
SF: You should have corrected yourself instantly.
AR: I did rectify the mistakes.
Rajitha Senaratne: Do you denounce ISIS?
RK: However, you have said you get goose bumps when the ISIS chief speaks?
AR: That is not correct. What I told was one gets goose bumps when ISIS chief speaks. However, we cannot approve violence.
RK: What is Wahabism?
AR: There is no concept called Wahabism. Wahabism is what was preached by a person named Wahab. His ideologies cannot be accepted as Islamism.
RK: Are there any Wahabi mosques in Sri Lanka?
AR: We don’t follow Wahabism. Some are trying to label us as those who follow Wahabism.
RK: The whole country is aware of Wahabism...
AR: They teach wrong ideology. Quran had banned women wearing veils that cover their faces. Only the 11 wives of Prophet Mohammad were allowed to wear face veils.
RK: Were you in favour of extremism some time back?
AR: I have corrected my self.
SF: You corrected yourself...
AR: Yes, within a month
Minister Rauff Hakeem: Have you studied Islamism in any of the institutions run by recognized Moulavis?
AR: No, I have not studied in any of the Madrasas.
Nalinda Jayatissa: Do you admit that Arabic signboards are necessary?
AR: Arabic is needed to understand the teachings of Prophet Mohammad. Similarly the Buddhists needs Pali to understand Buddha’s teachings. Arabic is one of the six languages recognized by the UN as universal languages.
Jayampathi Wickramaratne (JW): You cannot give wrong impression just because of the UN recommendation. You can't have Arabic signboards here.
AR: We do not agree instilling Arabic culture in this country.
Ashu Marasinginghe (AM): What is your opinion on the marital age for Muslims?
AR: We agree that Muslim girls should be allowed to marry at the age of 18. However, those who are under the age of 18 should be allowed to get married under special circumstances.
AM: What is your profession?
AR: I was working for a private company. Then I appealed for a job from Minister Hakeem. I was offered a job, but I refused to accept it, as it did not comply with my qualifications.
JW: Are you decanting from accepting common law by talking of exceptions?
AM: Have you met Zaharan?
No, but I had met Mohammadu Hasthun who blew himself up at the Katuwapitiya church on April 21, 2019. “Hasthun was a member of Ceylon Thowheed Jama'ath. He came with a Hindu girl and said he wants to marry her and also wanted to convert her to Islam. He also wanted a place to lodge. We did not agree to provide him with lodging since he was with a girl. Then they went away. Later he informed us that he had given up Islamism and had left Ceylon Thowheed Jama'ath.
JW: Were you aware of the April 21 attacks?
AR: Zaharan spoke of jihadism, which means violence. Therefore, I alerted TID about him in 2016. (Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana)