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PCoI on Easter Sunday attacks - SIS gave priority to matters other than national security: Ex-IGP

30 September 2020 05:03 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The State Intelligence Service (SIS) gave priority to other matters instead of matters relating to National Security even before the 52-day coup in October 2018, former IGP Pujith Jayasundara yesterday informed the PCoI on the Easter Sunday attacks.

He said its priorities had changed because of the political situation prevailing at the time.

Mr. Jayasundara said the SIS had been unable to verify the direct links between National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) Leader Zahran Hashim and the Islamic State (IS) organization until it received the foreign intelligence report.

"The SIS had verified the details only after the Easter attack. The intelligence which it had gathered before receiving the foreign intelligence report were only about a group of individuals practicing Islamic extremism in the country. A threat to National Security was not mentioned," he said.

The Commissioners asked Mr. Jayasundera whether the Zahran group could have unknowingly detonated the bombs, if the SIS had not received any intelligence from a foreign counterpart. "It could have happened," he said.

Mr. Jayasundera said the SIS had not gathered any intelligence of its own regarding the coordinated terror attack and the SIS had periodically submitted incidents related to other countries as intelligence reports.

The Commission focused on documents exchanged among the Police Department, Intelligence Units and the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) and said the documents shared between June 29 and September 20, 2018 made it clear that Zahran and his team were planning to conduct an attack in the country.

The Commission then asked Mr. Jayasundera whether he was sure that as the then IGP, he had been informed about Zahran's preparedness to carry an attack.

He admitted to the fact that he had received early information about a possible terror attack and the letters received from the SIS had been forwarded to relevant officials in the Police department to take necessary action.

Mr. Jayasundara said he had received personal information that Zahran and his wife had gone to see a doctor in March, 2019 for a consultation on family planning and both of them were planning to have another baby. "It is questionable as to why in this kind of situation Zahran had planned to detonate a suicide bomb," he said. (Yoshitha Perera)

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