Public Security Ministry Secy Maj. Gen. Jagath Alwis says Catholic Priest Rev. Fr. Cyril Gamini Fernando and several others who participated in online forum where allegations relating to the Easter Sunday terror attacks were made against SIS Chief Maj. Gen. Suresh Sallay, are to be summoned for recording of statements

BY Buddhika Samaraweera

National Catholic Centre for Social Communications Director Rev. Fr. Cyril Gamini Fernando and several others who attended a recent online forum, in which allegations related to the Easter Sunday terror attacks on 21 April 2019 were made against State Intelligence Service (SIS) Director Maj. Gen. Suresh Sallay, are likely to be summoned by the law enforcement agencies to record a statement regarding the said allegation.

Fr. Fernando, who is also the Parish Priest of St. Anne’s Church, Kurana, had claimed that the National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ) terror group was supported by the intelligence services, including Maj. Gen. Sallay, who was the then Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) Director. On 25 October, a complaint was filed at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) against Fr. Fernando by Maj. Gen. Sallay with regard to the aforesaid statement.

Accordingly, when contacted by The Morning, Ministry of Public Security Secretary Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Jagath Alwis said that Fr. Fernando and others who attended the said discussion would have to come and give a statement regarding the basis on which the allegations against Maj. Gen. Sallay were made.

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith too took part in the said online discussion alongside Fr. Fernando, but when asked if the Cardinal would also be called in for questioning, Maj. Gen. Alwis was non-committal.

“Well, I don’t know if the Cardinal was there or not,” he said.

In the complaint lodged with the CID, Maj. Gen. Sallay has requested that legal action be instituted against the others who attended the said online forum, in addition to Fr. Fernando.
When questioned as to whether such action would be taken against others who attended it, Maj. Gen. Alwis said: “This is something the whole world was told. Action must be taken against them. At least those who organised this discussion should have corrected him (Fr. Fernando). When a person like this came to a forum like this and said such a thing, they (the organisers), at the very least, had to say ‘that’s a wrong statement, don’t do that’.”
Maj. Gen. Alwis also said that if a person’s name is mentioned in connection with a crime, there must be sufficient evidence to prove it.

“During this discussion, it has been alleged that this particular official (Maj. Gen. Sallay) has had links with the NTJ and its Leader Mohamed Cassim Mohamed Zahran, alias Zahran Hashim (who was one of the suicide bombers at Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo on 21 April 2019). Therefore, anyone has the right to get their names cleared when such an allegation is made,” he explained.

Speaking further, Maj. Gen. Alwis said that the relevant parties should then come and explain on what basis and evidence they made the claim, adding: “If someone has any information, it should be given to the relevant institutions. Otherwise, anyone would come and say anything.”

However, when contacted by The Morning, Fr. Fernando said that he has, as of yesterday (26) afternoon, not been informed by the CID in this regard.

Law enforcement agencies did not question Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) General Secretary Ven. Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thera after he recently claimed that there was a group ready to launch an attack such as the Easter Sunday terror attacks on 21 April 2019, and that he had all the information, including the whereabouts of the said group.

When queried about this, Maj. Gen. Alwis said: “The monk had said that there was an extremist group. We considered it Intelligence information. He did not say that this person is involved in this. There is a huge difference between his statement and this allegation. Don’t get them mixed up.”
During the said discussion between the Catholic Church and a group of Sri Lankans living abroad last week, a presentation was made, which alleged that there is credible evidence that Maj. Gen. Sallay, who was the then DMI Director, and other Intelligence agencies had provided financial and other forms of support to the NTJ group, including Zahran, prior to 2015.
The presentation, which was seen by The Morning, read:

“Credible evidence exists that the NTJ terror group led by Zaharan was supported by the Intelligence services, including the receipt of funding. Sallay was the then DMI Director. He had employed Zaharan and the group for Intelligence work and kept the group on the payroll of the Defence Ministry. Sallay was removed during the tenure of the United National Front-led Government. However, he was appointed to the Sri Lanka High Commission in Malaysia by President Maithripala Sirisena for unknown reasons. He had been in India during the Easter Sunday terror attacks.”
Speaking at the time of the display of the said presentation, Fr. Fernando said that the intelligence services must, therefore, have been aware of Zahran and others who had been active since 2006.
“Sallay has been the Head of State Intelligence since 2009. We have seen the said Thowheeth Jama’ath group active in the Eastern Province since 2006. During that time, there were several clashes between Sufi Muslims and extremist groups. The Kattankudy Police, the then Defence Secretary, and the President have been informed that such a group was being formed. Therefore, there is no doubt that the Intelligence services were well aware of these groups.”

He also said: “Did the person in charge of the Intelligence unit not know these things? If he had known, why hadn’t he taken any action on this? It has been shown that after the formation of the NTJ, an area like Kattankudy seemed to be completely under the control of the said extremist group. Accordingly, the SIS and this person should be responsible for protecting these people and not bringing them before the law.”

Accordingly, a complaint was filed at the CID against Fr. Fernando by Maj. Gen. Sallay on 25 October with regard to aforesaid statements made in reference to him during the said discussion.

The Morning spoke to Police Media Spokesperson Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Nihal Thalduwa, who confirmed the same.

“A complaint has been filed against (Fr.) Fernando and a few others by (Maj. Gen.) Sallay. The complaint was with regard to the allegations made by Fernando who claimed that Sallay had had close contacts with Zahran and the said Thowheeth Jama’ath group, and that Sri Lanka’s intelligence units had provided financial and other forms of assistance to Zahran,” said SSP Thalduwa.

He added that additional details pertaining to the complaint cannot be disclosed as this would hinder the investigations.

“All I can say is that Sallay had mentioned in his complaint that he has never communicated with Zahran or anyone affiliated to the Thowheeth Jama’ath. Sallay has also mentioned that the objective of these allegations is not only to mislead the public, but to deliberately tarnish his reputation as well as to put his life and the lives of his family members in harm’s way,” he concluded.

Courtesy:The Morning