Initial plan to launch terror attacks in 2020– Ex-Senior DIG Seneviratne | Sunday Observer
Probe into Easter Sunday attacks

Initial plan to launch terror attacks in 2020– Ex-Senior DIG Seneviratne

22 November, 2020

Former Senior DIG of the Police Criminal Investigations Department (CID) Ravi Seneviratne has revealed that the attackers led by terror mastermind Zaharan Hashim had originally planned to carry out the terror attacks in 2020.

Former Senior DIG Seneviratne was summoned to give evidence before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Easter Sunday attacks on Friday. He also revealed several other plans of the attackers uncovered during investigations.

Giving evidence before the Commission, the former CID official revealed detailed information into the murder of two police officers at the Vavunathivu roadblock, the demolition of Buddha statues in Mawanella and the detection of land with explosives in Wanathawilluwa.

According to Seneviratne, the CID was aware of the possibility of a terrorist attack after the detection of explosives at the Wanathawilluwa Jihadist Training Camp and had promptly informed former IGP Pujith Jayasundara about it. “It was here that the CID first came to know about Zaharan Hashim,” he told the Commission.

He said the CID began investigating the vandalising of Buddha statues at Mawanella in December 2018 and the detection of explosives in Wanathawilluwa was a result of the investigations.

“Through these investigations, we found information about National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) and its leader Zahran Hashim. It was Jayasundara who asked me to investigate the Mawanella incident. I instructed the Director and the DIG in charge of the CID to send a team to the area,” Seneviratne said. The witness said that the CID was not aware of Hashim’s direct links with extremist activists before the Wanathawilluwa raid.

According to Seneviratne, investigations had revealed that Hashim was active from 2014, but had only started planning a terror attack in 2017.

But failing to gather a team willing to carry out an attack, Hashim had instructed Shahid to attack Buddha statues in Mawanella in a bid to instigate people. Seneviratne said following this, during sermons, Hashim had encouraged his followers to carry out an attack in Sri Lanka.

Seneviratne told the Commission that accordingly, the group had intended to carry out the attack in 2020. However, Hashim had suddenly changed this decision and directed for the attack to be carried out in April 2019.

According to him, the members of the terror outfit had disagreed with the decision initially. However, Hashim had managed to convince them by April 9 and the final decision on carrying out the attack on April 21 was made just five days before the attacks.

“We understood that the sudden change in plans could only mean that there was someone handling Hashim. I wanted to find this person prior to retiring from the Police,” he said. When presented with a name of a person on a piece of paper by the State Counsel, Seneviratne said this could be the person who was handling Hashim as there is information that they had worked closely with each other.

Seneviratne said the attackers had also allocated a place for those who failed in carrying out the attack to meet. It was a mosque. “The attackers were instructed to call another person to inform that they had reached the place. They would be picked up and taken to a safe house,” Seneviratne said.

The witness also wrote on a piece of paper the name of the person who had been tasked with taking away the failed attackers and presented it to the Presidential Commission. He confirmed that this suspect is now under arrest.