- During the interview the witness noticed T-56 firearms in the adjacent room
- Kattankudi Muslims were given weapons during President Ranasinghe Premadasa’s regime through M.L.A.M. Hizbullah in 1990
By Yoshitha Perera
Leader of the National Thawheed Jamaat (NTJ) Zahran Hashim was openly using firearms to threaten Sufi Muslims and he was giving firearm training to selected Kattankudi youth even in 2009, it was yesterday informed at the Presidential Commission of Inquiry probing Easter Sunday attacks.
Sunday Times journalist, Chris Kamalendran, testifying before the Commission said that he had interviewed Zahran in 2009 over a feud between traditional Muslims and Wahabbists and he visited Kattankudi in August that year. “When I visited Sufi Muslim leaders, they told me that Zahran’s group had attacked nearly 100 houses owned by Sufis” he said.
Kamalendran said that he met Zahran at a small office in Kattankudi and while he was conducting the interview he noticed that there were T-56 firearms in the adjacent room. He added that Muslims in Kattankudi were given weapons in 1990 during President Ranasinghe Premadasa’s regime through M.L.A.M. Hizbullah. “The weapons have been distributed publicly, month after the Kattankudi Mosque was attacked by the LTTE,” he said.
The witness further said that even now Zahran’s group was providing weapon training and there had been frequent attacks on Sufis. He also added that he asked Batticaloa DIG Edwin Gunathilaka and ASP Kandewatta of Kattankudi about these incidents. “They were aware of the attacks even as early as 2009, but said there was political pressure on them to ignore extremist activities. If they had taken steps against this, they said they would have been immed