The Police Special Task Force (STF) could have minimised the damage caused from the coordinated terror attack on April 21, 2019, if former State Intelligence Service (SIS) Director Nilantha Jayawardena had informed the confirmed prior warning which was received on April 20, 2019 from a foreign counterpart, former Commandant of STF SDIG M. R. Latheef informed the PCoI probing Easter Sunday attacks on Saturday.
Testifying before the Commission, SDIG Latheef said that former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando, former IGP Pujith Jayasundara or former SIS Director Nilantha Jayawardena did not inform him regarding any intelligence on the possible terror attack.
"After returning from an overseas training programme I had contacted former IGP, former Defence Secretary and former SIS Director but none of them informed me about the prior warnings," he said.
Highlighting the fact that it was problematic that seniors did not inform him about the early warnings, Mr. Latheef said that the foreign intelligence contained both actionable and operational information.
SDIG Latheef also added that almost 90% of the officers attached to SIS are Police Officers, and they have the authority to arrest suspects.
However, earlier testifying before the Commission, former SIS Director Nilantha Jayawardena said that National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) leader Zahran Hashim could not be arrested as the SIS did not have the power to arrest suspects.
SDIG Latheef also said that he was able to deploy STF officers for any operation at the time adding that an STF team had been deployed to search for explosives in the Wanathawilluwa area.(Yoshitha Perera)