Easter attack was carried out under the supervision of a foreign terrorist group – Former Defense Staff Chief

Easter attack was carried out under the supervision of a foreign terrorist group – Former Defense Staff Chief

Former Chief of Defense Staff, retired Navy Commander Admiral Ravindra said that the attack on Easter Sunday was carried out under the full supervision of a foreign terrorist group the suicide bomber Zaharan Hashim was not the leader.

He appeared before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Easter Sunday Attack for the first time on 5/12/2020.

Testifying before the commission retired Navy Commander Admiral Wijegunaratne said the military intelligence units had been deployed to investigate Zaharan Hashim since 2004.

“I consider the attackers to be ISIS terrorists. They targeted Catholic churches and European tourists. This is the only incident in the world where six bombs exploded at the same time. It was a disgrace to receive information through a foreign source that Sri Lanka, which had told the world about terrorism, was being attacked by terrorists”.

“However, investigations into the demolition of Buddha statues in Mawanella, the murder of Vavunathivu police officers and the discovery of the Wanathavilluwa explosive device were misguided due to the CID not following the right path. Therefore, it was not possible to prevent such an attack,” he said.

Nilantha Jayawardena, who was then the Director of the State Intelligence Service, did not inform the tri forces commanders of the intelligence information on an impending attack received on 4th April 2019, he said.

“Once intelligence is received, you don’t act on to see who gets the credit. That information was received from India. If we had been informed of that, we would have known more about it when the Indian Secretary of Defense arrived in Sri Lanka on April 8. As such, it was a serious shortcoming on the part of Nilantha Jayawardena not to inform the relevant authorities of the information received from a foreign intelligence unit. This situation has arisen due to the non-receipt of intelligence by the proper parties.”

When being questioned whether he knew that there would be an attack on or before the 20th,  he said that he was out of Colombo then and that no Army, Navy or Air Force chief knew about it. But there were enough communication mechanisms to let us know. The former director of the State Intelligence Service told those above him. But the lower officials who should have known were not informed.

“The previous training in detonating a motorcycle in Kattankudy and the bomb planted in a van in Kochchikade show how well this was planned. Also involved in this were a group of educated people who had been educated abroad. This is not something that was planned in Sri Lanka. It was an attack carried out under the full supervision of a terrorist group in a foreign country. The IS target is very clear in this series. The leader of any terrorist group does not commit suicide. He is behind it. Zaharan was only the follower of this series of attacks in this country. He was not the leader,” he added.