Although the State Intelligence Service (SIS) had provided information to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) about the locations of Zahran's team members 'Army Mohideen', Yusuf Anwar and Zahran's brother Rilwan, before the attacks, the CID had failed to arrest them, SIS officer yesterday informed PCoI probing Easter Sunday attacks.
Testifying before the Commission, the witness said that SIS had submitted several reports to the former IGP Pujith Jayasundara and CID, including facts about Zahran's associates and their whereabouts.
"Between 2014 and 2017, there were many conflicts between National Thawheeth Jamaat (NTJ) and other Muslim groups in Kattankudy. In 2017, there was a conflict between Zahran's group and another Islamic group and the police had obtained arrest warrants to apprehend Zahran, Rilwan, Army Mohideen and Yusuf Anwar," the witness said.
He said on March 3, 2019, the CID came to Pasikkudah in search of Army Mohideen, but the CID officers were not aware of the motive behind his arrest.
"A Sub Inspector attached to the CID who came to Pasikkudah with a group of officers, asked the SIS officers on what basis they wanted to arrest Army Mohideen. They were not even aware of the previous arrest warrant which was issued by the Courts to arrest him," SIS officer said.
The witness said the SIS officers led the CID officers to the location in Pasikkudah where Army Mohideen was living. They also alerted them about the routes through which the suspect could escape.
SIS officer said Army Mohideen was a physical instructor of the NTJ and previously he was serving in the Sri Lanka Army for over 10 years.
The Kalkudah police had then arrested Army Mohideen on April 24, 2019, soon after the Easter Sunday attacks.
The Commissioners also questioned the witness whether he had provided information to the CID about Yusuf Anwar, for whom an arrest warrant had been issued in 2017. The witness said Anwar owned a tailoring shop in the Kattankudi area. "Although he had been seen loitering freely in the Kattankudy area, the police did not take any steps to arrest him," witness said. "The SIS provided information on the whereabouts of Rilwan and Yusuf Anwar as well. But the CID had failed to arrest them," witness said.
The witness also said that Zahran and his associates had received military training in Nuwara-Eliya and Hambantota.
The Commissioners then questioned the witness on foreign intelligence received in connection to the possible attack on April 4, 2019. But the witness said that the Senior officer attached to SIS informed him about the foreign intelligence on April 5 and asked to give priority to identify the suspects.
"On April 20, between 8.00 and 9.00 pm, the same officer called me and informed that the NTJ was getting ready to launch an attack. He informed me that Zaharan and his group had bought two motorcycles to carry out a test explosion on April 16, 2019 and only one had exploded. The officer instructed me to find the whereabouts of the other motorcycle," witness added.
The witness said the normal function of the SIS is only to provide intelligence information, but after the Easter Sunday attacks, the SIS had to go beyond its procedure and had to extend its assistance to the CID and police to apprehend the suspects.(Yoshitha Perera)