STF would have nabbed bombers if informed by SIS - Latheef | Daily News


STF would have nabbed bombers if informed by SIS - Latheef

Former Director of the State Intelligence Service (SIS), SDIG Nilantha Jayawardena committed a serious omission by not sharing the intelligence information which he received on April 20, 2019, that a terrorist attack was taking place on the next day, former Special Task Force (STF) Commandant, retired Senior DIG M.R Latheef stated. Testifying before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry probing Easter Sunday carnage yesterday (26) he said that if the Director of State Intelligence Nilantha Jayawardena had informed him of the specific warning given the day before the attack, the STF would have been able to nab the suicide bombers.

He further highlighted that he had given a call to SIS Director Nilantha Jayawardena at around 7.29 p.m on April 20, 2019, to inform about his observations with regard to the incident where a bicycle bomb exploded before the Easter Sunday attack in Kattankuidy on April 16,2019.

“As first time, we were summoned to the National Security Council after the Easter Sunday attack. When I inquired about the incident, then SIS Director Nilantha Jayawardena stated that he was unable to arrest the terrorists due to the lack of sufficient evidence,”he added.

SDIG Latheef further pointed out that he was aware of the National Thowheed Jamaath (NTJ) and Zaharan Hashim before the attack.

A member of the Commission asked the witness if intelligence officers attached to the STF’s office in Kattankudy had not been able to find out information about the Zaharan and his followers, before the Easter Sunday attack.

Responding to it, SDIG Latheef said that the STF intelligence units were not set up to look into intelligence information relating to national security. He said it was the task of the STF intelligence unit to look into how to prepare for an operation with regard to the intelligence information they receive, and how it should be activated.

Thus, the Chairman of the Commission questioned the witness as to whether the STF intelligence officers had not conveyed any intelligence information regarding Zaharan and the NTJ. In response, he said that no intelligence information had been reported on it.

The Commission Chairman then asked the witness whether the Secretary of the Commission had instructed him to hand over documents pertaining to religious extremism, that were available at STF, to the Commission. In reply, SDIG Latheef said that he had received such notice.

If so, the Commission again asked him why the documents he had submitted to the Commission as the STF Commandant did not include the above documents which contained information related to Zaharan and the NTJ. The chairman of the commission asked several questions with regard to three documents.

In response, he said that it should be ascertained whether the relevant documents had been received by the STF headquarters.He also pleaded that a report be called from the STF headquarters in that regard.

“These three reports have been received by the STF regional camps. It should be checked whether they were referred to the headquarters and it should be ascertained whether any officer at the headquarters had inquired into it,” he said.