Fears have been raised that intelligence information had been intentionally ignored ahead of the Easter Sunday attacks with the Presidential election in mind.
The Parliament Select Committee (PSC) on the Easter Sunday attacks has said in its final report tabled in Parliament today that it observed further investigations will be needed to understand whether those with vested interests did not act on intelligence so as to create chaos and instil fear and uncertainty in the country in the lead up to the Presidential Election to be held later in the year.
“Such a situation would then lead to the call for a change of regime to contain such acts of terrorism. Coincidently or not so coincidentally, the security situation and fear would be unleashed months away from the Presidential Election,” the PSC said.
The PSC also notes that this occured in the context of changes in the leadership in the Sri Lankan Army and DMI in 2019.
“These are extremely serious observations that can impact the democratic governance, electoral processes and security of Sri Lanka and must require urgent attention,” the PSC said in its report.
In addition, the PSC observes that the President failed in numerous occasions to give leadership and also actively undermined government and systems including having ad hoc National Security Council (NSC) meetings and leaving out key individuals from meetings. Whilst the fissures in Government were evident in 2018, amplified with the Constitutional Crisis, these also impacted the security apparatus.
Several others are listed in the report as having failed in their duties including the Prime Minister and State Minister for Defence and the Attorney General’s Department.
The PSC notes in its report that the Director of the State Intelligence Service (SIS) bears the greatest responsibility over the attacks.
This is compounded by the fact that since 8th April 2018, a full one year before the incident, he had in writing to the IGP requested for the shutting down of investigations by others into Zahran Hashim, the mastermind of the attacks, which resulted in the SIS becoming the sole investigator into Zahran.
In its final report the PSC makes several recommendations that require urgent attention. These are broadly categorised essential reforms in the security and intelligence sector, establishment of an enhanced financial supervisory mechanism, the need to control and monitor the rise of religious extremism, addressing delays with justice and reforming the Attorney General’s Department, Wahabism and the need for action, media reporting, fake news and other areas of concern, holding politicians/ peoples’ representatives accountable and reforming the educational sector to counter growing extremism. (Colombo Gazette)