Sri Lanka Easter bomber Zaharan paid salary by government: Kiriella

ECONOMYNEXT – Suicide bomber Mohammed Zaharan who led an extremist Islamist suicide group had been paid a salary by the government, Minister Lakshman Kiriella said.

"The goverment had paid salaries to 30-odd Thowheed Jamath members including Zaharan," Kiirlella said. "Zaharan had been paid a salary by the government."

"Why don’t you come to the select committee to find out?" he asked an opposition legislator who had raised a question on a statement made by Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera relating to Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith.

Opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa stood up to warn Kiriella not to expose intelligence officials.

"This will be like another Millennium City," he said. "Do not say in public what is discussed at the select committee. Do not expose intelligence officials."

"Before the select committee starts there will be instructions to protect national securuty. But we need to find out how much did the government pay Zaharan," Kiriella responded.

Mohammed Zahran, who was preaching an extremist Islamist ideology was believed to have led the suicide bombers who attacked churches and hotels on Easter Sunday.

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The group had been tracked by Sri Lankan authorities before the attacks. The group or some members are believed to have had links to Islamic State, a Pan-Islamic organization.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, who earned praised for urging Sri Lankans and Catholics to remain calm and not seek revenge from innocents joined a fasting monk in Kandy, who was demanding the resignation of three Muslim politicians, who were alleged to have links to some members of the groups.

Opposition legislator Wimal Weerawansa said whether the government approved of the statements made by Samaraweera.

Kiriealla said clerical leaders of all religions must be respected.

Cardinal Ranjith said told reporters the real people who were behind the extremists must be found and he was not satisfied with the investigations of the government and he believed the stance of the fasting monk Rathana thero was correct.

He had told reporters there was no analysis of who had encouraged the breakdown of trust between religions and also created fear among Muslims and indirectly encouraged the attacks.

"There has been no investigations on that. There must be special investigations to find these people who are behind the scenes," the Cardinal said in a video published by Sri Lanka’s Daily Mirror newspaper.

"The President and Prime Minister must investigate and take the correct decisions. This country is given to politician only for 5 to 6 years, it is not an inheritance for them."

Sri Lanka’s police and security forces have said that they have caught almost all senior membership of the groups that were linked to the bombings. (Update III)