Former TID Chief DIG Nalaka de Silva yesterday said the Easter Sunday attacks revealed the lack of a contingency plan and policy to face emergence situations.
Testifying before the Presidential Commission probing Easter Sunday attacks, Silva said that after his appointment as the TID Director in 2015, he always questioned at the Intelligence Review meetings about having a contingency plan and policy to act under an emergency situation.
The former Terrorist Investigations Division Director testifying before the Commission said, since his appointment to the post in 2015, he insisted during intelligence review meetings on having such contingency plans in place to act during emergency situations.
"The Defence Secretary and other officials held different views about having a contingency plan. They probably thought I was going to start a war again in the country. During this period there was an issue with the defence secretary and I didn't participate at intelligence review meetings after September, 2017," the witness told the Commission.
The Commissioners then asked him reasons for not participating in intelligence review meetings.
Silva responded that then Defence Secretary Kapila Waidyaratne had criticized him in an intelligence review meeting held on September 24, 2017, for not investigating about a particular intelligence with regard to the Turkey terror group FETO.
The witness informed the Commission that he had never received details about such intelligence through the State Intelligence Service (SIS) and that he could not conduct an investigation without receiving such information.
"I was really upset about this incident. The SIS Director Nilantha Jayawardena never informed me about the intelligence with regard to FETO organization, even after the particular review meeting. That was the last intelligence review meeting that I attended," he said.
Former DIG Silva further informed the PCoI that a senior official of State Intelligence Service (SIS) and former IGP Pujith Jayasundara had asked the TID not to investigate a Sri Lankan who had returned after fighting for ISIS in 2018.
Silva said that TID picked up Nilabdeen Rimzan at the airport and had asked him to come to the TID after initial questioning. However deputy director of SIS, Sampath Kumara had asked Silva not to pursue the investigation as SIS is conducting a separate investigation.
"Kumara asked me not to disturb Rimzan. I said we need to question Rimzan because the TID wanted to know why he returned. This was the time when ISIS was losing and they were sending its foreign fighters home. I then asked him to talk to the IGP and make a formal request. Kumara also sent me a letter. The IGP too sent me one asking to stop the investigation," he said.
The witness added that the relationship between the SIS and the TID had deteriorated by this time due to the attitude of SIS Director DIG Nilantha Jayawardena.
Explaining the restructuring of the TID, Silva said that the TID never had an emergency team skilled with special weapons training.
"In 2016, I requested former IGP Jayasundara to give us an approval to train a group of 10 people attached to the TID with special weapons training through the Special Task Force (STF)," he said.
However, the former IGP gave the approval but the STF had said that it was not effective to provide a special weapons training for officers attached to the TID, the witness informed the Commission.
Witness said that as the TID Director he wanted to create a Quick Reaction Team (QRT) to handle an emergency situation and that was the reason he requested a special weapons training for a group attached to TID.
Silva also informed the Commission that the special surveillance vehicle the TID received from Japan had not been used to trace suspects after he was arrested and interdicted by the TID in 2018.
Witness said that his appointment as the TID Director was a political move and he never wanted to take up that position.
"Former IGP N.K Illangakoon trusted me and asked me to take up the appointment as TID Director and I wanted to restructure it," he said. (Yoshitha Perera)