How bungling police blamed LTTE for NTJ killings in B’caloa Zahran’s bosses held
Posted on May 2nd, 2019

By Shamindra Ferdinando Courtesy The Island

Recent revelation that those responsible for the Easter Sunday carnage (April 21) had killed two police constables in the early hours of Nov 30, 2018 at Vavnativu in the East has exposed a serious intelligence lapses.

Authoritative sources told The Island that law enforcement authorities and the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) seemed to have been clueless as regards the alleged involvement of Muslim extremists in the Vavnativu killings, which they believed was an act of a group of resurgent Tigers.

Then IGP Pujith Jayasundera directed the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to probe the double killings.

The killing of a Sinhala police constable from the South and a Tamil from the East were conveniently blamed on former members of the LTTE, sources pointed out. Several ex-LTTE cadres were detained in connection with the Vavnativu killings under the Prevention of Terrorist Act (PTA).The police attributed the killings to the police thwarting ex-LTTE cadres’ efforts to mark their heroes’ week.

The lapse on the part of the government intelligence apparatus came to light on April 28-exactly a week after massive coordinated suicide attacks killed over 250 civilians and injured more than 500 others when police headquarters revealed Muslims extremists’ involvement in Vavnativu killings. Police headquarters statement followed the interrogation of Mohamed Sharif Adam Lebbe alias Gaffoor (53), a close associate of the Easter Sunday bombing mastermind. Gaffoor led the police to side arms issued to the slain police constables buried at Wanathavilluwa widely believed to be the main base of their operations.

Senior law enforcement sources said that those ex-LTTE cadres detained under PTA over the twin cop slayings had to be released in the wake of Gaffoor’s statement and recovery of personal weapons issued to the two victim policemen from the Muslim extremists responsible for the Easter Sunday carnage.

The DMI made no reference to Muslim extremists’ involvement in Vavnativu killings when the outfit briefed the media on April 26 at the President’s House on the instructions of President Maithripala Sirisena. The same briefing had been made to several parties, including the National Security Council (NSC) since the April 21 bombings.

President Sirisena proscribed the National Thowheed Jamat (NTJ) and Jamathei Millathu Ibrahim (JMI) on April 29 in terms of the Emergency Regulations.

Other sources pointed out that though the DMI and the Office of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) shouldn’t have been deprived of Indian warning, the former couldn’t under any circumstances absolve itself of the culpability for its failure to thwart the attack. Sources said that the entire intelligence apparatus owed an explanation as to why Vavnativu killings didn’t receive proper attention it deserved.

Well informed sources asserted that Zahran Hashim widely described as the mastermind of the Easter Sunday bombings had been a front. Two persons above him in the grouping had been taken into custody in terms of the PTA and were being interrogated, sources said, emphasizing Hashim was the face of NTJ whereas the actual leadership was in the hands of the two persons taken in. There could be others, sources said, adding Zahran’s leading role in the operation shouldn’t be misconstrued as he was the leader of the terror group.

Sources revealed that security authorities had been alerted to the impending attack by reliable sources even before the Indians warned. The abortive attempt to kill Mohammed Naslim, Co-ordinating Secretary to UNP Chairman and Minister Kabir Hashim on March 09 at Danagama in Mawanella, too, didn’t prompt required action, sources said, adding that the situation remained the same even after authorities established extremists blasting a scooty in a vacant land at Kattankudy belonging to Eastern Province Governor M.L.A.M. Hisbullah. This blast took place a week before the Easter Sunday massacre. President Maithripala Sirisena promoted National List MP Hisbullah from Parliament to the Office of EP Governor in early January this year to pave the way for Shantha Bandara to enter parliament. Hisbullah succeeded Rohitha Bogollagama, a former Foreign Minister.

Perhaps, the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on national defence, too, should inquire into the intelligence failure, sources said. They said that it would be prudent to examine whether terrorists sought to exploit political crisis in the wake of Oct 2018 ‘constitutional coup’ by killing policemen in the East. Sources said that comprehensive investigation into Vavnativu killings would have exposed the group before the Easter Sunday massacre.

In spite of having a plethora of reports pertaining to the group’s activity those responsible seemed to have hesitated to go the whole hog, they said.

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