By Saman Indrajith
Head of the Criminal Investigation Department Senior DIG Ravi Seneviratne, yesterday, said that a fresh CID investigation was in progress to ascertain why there had been no action on the basis of foreign and local intelligence reports warning of the impending terror attacks on Easter Sunday.
Testifying before the Parliamentary Select Committee, probing the Easter Sunday carnage, Seneviratne said that there had been warnings and he, too, had been warned of the attack the previous evening.
The PSC members present yesterday were Dr. Nalinda Jayatissa, Prof Ashu Marasinghe, M.A. Sumanthiran, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, Chairman Ananda Kumarasiri, Rauff Hakeem and Dr Jayampathi Wickremaratne.
SDIG Seneviratne said: In May 2018, I was informed by the IGP of the incident of destroying Buddha statues in Mawanella and he requested that a team of CID men be deployed for investigations. We identified two main characters Saadiq and Saajid. We followed them. We had information that they were engaged in clandestine activities. On January 26, this year we found that Saadiq and Saajid had links to Zahran. Thereafter we searched for him.
Chairman Kumarsiri: Two policemen were killed in Vavunathivu on Nov 30, 2018. What was the connection between that killing and of the Zahran’s group?
SDIG Seneviratne: There was a link. But we could establish it until April 21 incident.
Field Marshal Fonseka: So you started searching for Zahran only after Jan 26. Didn’t you reveal the findings at the intelligence review meetings?
SDIG Seneviratne: I informed the IGP about Zahran and warned that he was dangerous.
Field Marshal Fonseka: Did you inform the SIS?
SDIG Seneviratne: I have no information whether IGP conveyed that to the SIS. But the matter was taken up at intelligence review meetings. The SIS provided their information to us.
Minister Dr Senaratne: You attended the National Security Council meetings. Did you take up those matters there?
SDIG Seneviratne: I attend the NSC only when I am invited. I did not receive any invitation after mid December 2018. Thereafter I was not invited till the Easter Sunday incident. Thereafter I was summoned to the NSC.
Sumanthiran: It is said that the attack was carried out by the ISIS. Is it true?
SDIG Seneviratne: We have no evidence to say so.
Dr Jayatissa: MP Dayasiri Jayasekera told before this committee that there had been some VIPs at the Taj on the Easter Sunday. Have you investigated it?
SDIG Seneviratne: We have not received such information.
Prof Marasinghe: Did you attend the intelligence review meeting held on April 9, where the warnings from the intelligence agencies were discussed?
SDIG Seneviratne: I was not in the country on that day.
Prof Marasinghe: Did you send a representative of your department?
SDIG Seneviratne: I do not think so, because we were not invited.
Prof Marasinghe: There are copies of letters that were exchanged between your department and other divisions of the police on this terror group.
SDIG Seneviratne: Yes, we sent such a letter on April 10.
Dr Wickraramaratne: Do you think that the attack had links to the ISIS?
SDIG Seneviratne: We have no evidence to prove that.
Dr Wickraramaratne: Have you received prior-warnings of this attack?
SDIG Seneviratne: I was informed by Director SIS on April 20 of the attack. Then I passed it on to the IGP. The GP gave me some instructions and I acted according to that. I also passed the warning to the Senior DIG Western Range as per those instructions.
Dr Jayatissa: It is thought that some VIPs stayed in Taj on the Easter Sunday and a suicide bomber who had been there did not explode himself because of those persons. Do you agree?
SDIG Seneviratne: No, the video footage shows that the suicide bomber attempted twice to explode his bomb but the bomb did not explode. So he left the place.
Chairman Kumarsiri: Now there had been warnings from four foreign intelligence agencies and there had been many reports from local sources of the impending attacks. Why there had been no mechanism to process all these and to take an action to prevent them?
SDIG Seneviratne: A separate CID investigation is in progress to ascertain that. I may like to respond to that question in camera without the presence of media.