Former Govt’s lethargic attitude to national security revealed | Sunday Observer
PCoI on the Easter Sunday attacks

Former Govt’s lethargic attitude to national security revealed

30 August, 2020

The lethargic attitude of the former Government to national security was revealed this week when former Director of the State Intelligence Service (SIS) Senior DIG Nilantha Jayawardena told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) on the Easter Sunday attacks that only five Intelligence review meetings were held since January 2019. According to Jayawardena, 26 such meetings should have been held prior to the date of the attack. Jayawardena has appeared before the Commission for 21 consecutive days.

Jayawardena said that he had sent 347 reports on terror mastermind Zahran Hashim to various officials periodically. Former IGP Pujith Jayasundara had requested further reports on two or three occasions, he said, adding that no other officer had paid any attention to SIS reports. “If at least one official read the reports I sent, innocent people would have not died,” he said.

Jayawardena’s evidence before the PCoI also raised doubts on the ability of former officials to understand reports on intelligence information submitted by the SIS. On Thursday, Jayawardena was cross-examined by counsel Dilshan Jayasuriya appearing on behalf of former Secretary of Defence Hemasiri Fernando.

Asked as to why he had merely mentioned as ‘Top Secret’ but had not elaborated on the tip received on April 4, 2019 about a possible attack in a document sent to the Former Chief of National Intelligence (CNI) DIG (Rtd.) Sisira Mendis, Jayawardena said, “I thought he would understand what ‘top secret’ meant. All my superiors had knowledge of intelligence information. He was the CNI from 2015 and this is not the first piece of information I had sent after labelling it as top secret.”

“I believed that officers appointed by the Cabinet would be able to read a report and understand its content. But now I feel I should have, in writing, detailed the recommendations on what action to take as well,” he added.

According to Jayawardena, the issue was perhaps that he was focused on Zahran Hashim and his activities till the attack occurred. “I think the fault here is that I focused only on Zahran,” he said.

Jayawardena revealed that IGP Pujith Jayasundara had not attended security council meetings since October 2018. “After October the year before until the day after the attack, he attended only one security council meeting, ” he said. Jayawardena said though the security council too had not met regularly prior to the attack, they had met daily after the attacks on April 21.

The PCoI has issued summons to five parliamentarians and four former parliamentarians to report to the Police investigation unit of the PCoI.

Ranjith Maddumabandara, Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, State Minister Dilum Amunugama and A.H.M Haleem have been summoned along with former MPs Sunil Handunetti, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, Ashu Marasinghe and Mangala Samaraweera. They have been summoned to give a statement on comments they have made on the Easter Sunday attacks and IS terrorists, a spokesman for the PCoI said.