The Director of the State Intelligence Service, Nilantha Jayawardena, “bears the greatest responsibility” in the failure to prevent or mitigate the effects of the Easter Sunday attacks on Churches and Hotels, a Parliamentary investigation has found.
The final report of the Parliamentary Select Committee that probed the attack released its final report today, just over 6 months after the Islamic extremists from the National Thowheed Jamaat launched suicide bomb attacks against three Churches and three Hotels. A total of 277 people, including 8 suicide bombers, died and over 400 were injured in the attacks. Among the dead are at least 45 children and 40 foreigners.
While Jayawardena was the pivotal figure, the CPSC also faulted the Secretary to the Ministry of Defense Hemasiri Fernando, IGP Pujith Jayasundera, Chief of National Intelligence Sisira Mendis and the Directorate of Military Intelligence.
The report confirmed that information had been received by Jayawardena on April 4, from what they called is a “friendly country.” We now know that the intelligence was shared by India which was monitoring the extremists. “But there were delays from his end to share it with the relevant intelligence and security personnel,” the report said.
The Chairman of the PSC Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri said that “since Churches were to be attacked if this information was shared with Church leaders, particularly the Cardinal (Malcolm Ranjith) we could have prevented the attacks or reduced the harm.”
Addressing the Media in the Parliament premises Kumarasiri said that the bombing of a Catholic Church in Dehiwela had been prevented by the presence of Police officers who were there for another purpose.
Kumarasiri also told reporters President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, several Ministers and various political figures are also mentioned as those responsible for some of the failures.
“This, the PSC notes is a major failure from the Director SIS, the lead in the intelligence apparatus who had received pride of place at the ICM and NSC. The PSC also notes the failure on the part of the SIS to act upon the subsequent intelligence information received after the explosion on 16th April 2019 in Kattankudy” the report added.
The report also said that Jayawardena had asked the IGP to withdraw the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) from investigations into Zaharan and his group and the SIS had taken “full charge” of the subject one year before the incident. Another member of the PSC M A Sumanthiran told reporters that there had been a “clash between the two agencies.”