Easter attacks: A breach of collective responsibility | Sunday Observer

Easter attacks: A breach of collective responsibility

25 October, 2020

As proceedings of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on the Easter Sunday Attacks continued over the week those providing evidence harped on the failure to maintain collective responsibility and shortcomings in the system. Giving evidence before the Commission, former IGP Pujith Jayasundara said everyone who was in power during the Easter Sunday attacks should take collective responsibility for failing to prevent the attacks as it was clearly a system failure.

According to him, the attacks could have been prevented if the Minister of Defence at that time, President Maithripala Sirisena and the National Security Council (NSC) had acted on the information of the State Intelligence Service (SIS) of a possible terrorist attack which SIS had received on April 4, 2019.

Jayasundara said when the former SIS Director SDIG Nilantha Jayawardena sent him a report on April 9, 2019 warning of the attacks he had contacted the relevant officials over the phone and informed them.

Jayasundara also told the Commission that he had forwarded the report to SDIG of Western Province, Nandana Munasinghe, SDIG Crimes and STF, M.R. Latif, DIG Special Protection Range, DIG Priyalal Dasanayake and Director of the Terrorism Investigation Division, Waruna Jayasundara and spoke to them over the phone. Jayasundara said that he also phoned all SDIGs in charge of provinces.

However, he said these mobile records have mysteriously disappeared when the investigators had checked his mobile records. Jayasundara also said despite being the IGP the SIS was monitoring him as well and tapped his phone.

Former Director of the State Intelligence Service (SIS), SDIG Nilantha Jayawardena was also under scrutiny this week about his action leading to the attack.

According to Jayasundara, Jayawardena had drastically reduced communications with him by 2019. Jayasundara made this statement when attorney Madu Jayathilake, representing SDIG Jayawardena, asked the witness whether her client had informed him about the foreign report, received on April 4, 2019 warning about a possible terrorist attack over the phone, before sending an official report on April 9.According to Jayasundara Jayawardena had called him on April 7 but had not told him of a warning.

He said that by this time he hardly called him, unlike in the past due to several reasons. However, he confirmed that he received Jayawardena’s report on April 9. During the proceedings this week it was also revealed that Jayawardena did not inform SIS officers stationed throughout the country about the warning of a terrorist attack given by a foreign counterpart.

An SIS officer who testified before the PCoI said that they had not been informed of this prior warning and that he too learned about this after the Easter Sunday attacks.

In response, Jayawardena said that there was no need to inform this to all SIS officials as the institution works on a need-to-know basis. However, all SIS officers had been informed about Zahran Hashim and his close associates by late March 2019, Jayawardena said.

When he received information about the possible attacks, Jayawardena said that there was no reason or time to inform all SIS officers on the ground.

The wife of National Thowheed Jamaat leader Zaharan Hashim, Abdul Cader Fatima Hadiya also testified before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) investigating the Easter Sunday attacks.

Hadiya began testifying at around 11 a.m on Friday. However, the session was not open to journalists.