‘Former Minister’s brother helped Zaharan flee to India’ | Daily News


Former Army Commander tells PCoI probing Easter Sunday attacks:

‘Former Minister’s brother helped Zaharan flee to India’

The Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) informed that a brother of former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen, helped National Thowheed Jama’ath (NTJ) Leader ZahAran Hashim to flee to India by boat, former Army Commander Lt.Gen.(Rtd) Mahesh Senanayake stated.

Testifying before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) into the Easter Sunday attacks on October 7 via Skype technology, the former Army Commander also revealed to the Commission that he came to know about the main suicide bomber Zaharan when he was the security forces Commander for Jaffna.

He also stated that DMI had mentioned Zahran’s name during meetings of the Security Council and at the intelligence coordination meetings in connection with the damage to the Mawanella Buddha statues and the discovery of the Wanathavilluwa explosives.

“The DMI also informed the National Intelligence Service head about information received by them that a brother of former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen had assisted Zaharan Hashim to flee to India by boat,” Senanayake added.

Replying to a question raised by the State Counsel, Senanayake stated that there was a competition between State Intelligence Service and the Military Intelligence Service due to the lack of proper communication and that led him to testify before the Commission in this way.

The State Counsel questioned whether he informed this to his supervisors? In response, Senanayake pointed out that he had informed then Defence Secretaries Kapila Waidyaratne and Hemasiri Fernando that the intelligence services were not cooperating. Then they had not given any answer for it. “During the investigations into extremist activities, issues had existed between the Special Bureau under the Police Department and army intelligence. It was the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) and Terrorists Investigation Division (TID) that created such problems. Although we shared the information on the discovery of Explosives in Wanathawilluwa with them. But, they did not allow the Army to participate in the investigation thereafter. The Army has the right expertise to carry out these investigations. I even asked former Defense Secretary Hemasiri Fernando to permit them to be involved with the investigations. However, we did not get a chance. Even statues were vandalized in Mawanella, a team of our officers went to assist in the investigations but the Gampola Police stated that our assistance was not required. One of the reasons we found out ourselves in such a situation now is because we were not allowed to conduct such investigations,” the former Army Commander added.

He further highlighted that they have no power to arrest. “We provided information continuously. Former Inspector General of Police Pujith Jayasundara, Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police of the CID Ravi Seneviratne, Deputy Inspector General of the Terrorist Investigation Division Nalaka de Silva, DIG of the TID Waruna Jayasundara, State Intelligence Service Director SDIG Nilantha Jayawardena and the former Chief of National Intelligence Sisira Mendis did not give priority to the information that we provided. The main reason for this attack is that priority was not given to the information that we provided," he further said.