National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) leader Zahran Hashim and his associates had been conducting a training camp for over four years at Al Zuharia Madrasa School in Pomparippu, Puttalam, a school registered under the Department of Muslim Religious and Cultural Affairs (DMRCA), it was informed yesterday at the PCoI probing Easter Sunday attacks.
Testifying before the Commission, SI Srimal Sanjeewa of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) said that the NTJ leaders provided training to a selected group of 26 students on the use of Type-56 firearms and hand grenades.
SI Sanjeewa said that the relevant Madrasa school which was started as a religious school in 1989 was turned into a Madrasa in 2011 and on November 18, 2015 it was registered under the DMRCA.
"Students who were trained in this school were aged between 12-16 years. They had privately applied for Ordinary Level and Advanced Level examinations," he said.
SI Sanjeewa added that four permanent teachers including its Principal and seven temporary teachers had been teaching at the school.
He said that Rs. 4,000 per month had been charged from each student, according to the inquiry so far.
"Residential facilities had also been provided within the school for those who studied at the school and the permanent teachers," the witness added.
SI Sanjeewa said the team, including Zaharan, had conducted a training camp at the school from 2015 to 2019.
Witness also said that about 26 students who had entered the school through an organisation named 'Save the Pearl', had participated in the training camp.
Information revealed that the students attended the training camp were residents of Mattakkuliya, Madampe and Puttalam areas.
SI Sanjeewa said Zaharan, Mohamed Ibrahim Ilham Ahmed who carried out the suicide bombing at Shangri-La hotel in Colombo, his wife Fatima Jiffri who detonated a bomb at a house at Mahawila Gardens in Dematagoda, Zaharan's brother Rilwan Hashim and Mohamed Noufer alias Noufer Moulavi who was believed to be Zaharan's mentor, had participated in the camp.
Accordingly, Zaharan and Ilham had given extremist lectures to students attending the camp and Fatima had trained them in Karate. SI Sanjeewa also added that investigations revealed that Ilham had trained the students on using Type-56 fire arms and making hand grenades.
The witness further said that a person named Sultan who was the guardian of the students studying at the school is currently in CID custody. (Yoshitha Perera)