Two ex-deputy ministers supported terrorist & extremist groups, PCoI hears
July 31, 2020 08:53 pm
Director of the State Intelligence Service (SIS) Nilantha Jayawardena revealed that former deputy ministers Ameer Ali and M.L.AM. Hizbullah had supported terrorist and extremist groups in the country.
He made this revelation on Thursday (30), testifying before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) probing the Easter Sunday terror attacks, for the fourth consecutive day.
During the evidence hearing, the focus of the Presidential Commission fell on the intelligence report issued by the SIS with regard to a lecture delivered by Zahran Hashim at the office of the National Thowheed Jamaath (NTJ) on the 20th of November 2016.
The panel asked the former SIS chief if the responses of Muslim organizations and lawmakers challenging the statement made by former Minister of Justice Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe during the parliamentary session on the 18th of November 2016, which claimed that 30 members of four Muslim families had joined the ISIS, are included in the said intelligence report.
In response, Jayawardena said the report contains the counterstatements made by former Ministers Rauff Hakeem, Rishad Bathiudeen and then-Chief Minister of Eastern Province and Leader of Muslim Council of Sri Lanka (MCSL) N.M. Ameen.
In addition, following the clash at the Aliyar Junction on the 10th of March 2017, former Deputy Minister Ameer Ali had provided political support to the NTJ while former Deputy Minister M.L.AM. Hizbullah endorsed the Sunnat Wal Jamat, former SIS chief said continuing his testimony.
The Presidential Commission then questioned the witness of the measures taken by then-Defence Secretary and the National Intelligence after the SIS had forewarned them of the Zahran Hashim-led NTJ and the threats posed by the Islamic State (IS) to Sri Lanka.
To this, Jayawardena said the SIS had regularly provided intelligence information to the relevant authorities and they should be questioned on the measures they had taken in that regard.
When responding to certain questions posed by the Presidential Commission, the former SIS chief had requested permission to testify only in the presence of the Presidential Commission’s panel and the representatives of the Attorney General’s Department.
However, the chairman of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on Easter attacks, in response, said the witness cannot be allowed to testify only in the presence of the aforementioned parties, pointing out that several attorneys-at-law appearing on behalf of certain parties linked to the incident have already been given the opportunity to cross-examine the witness.
Accordingly, these attorneys need to be present when the witness produces his testimony, the PCoI chief had stressed.