We informed authorities about Zahran – Moulavi Kaleel
Posted on May 29th, 2019

Courtesy Ceylon Today

By Udeni Saman Kumara

All Ceylon Islam Advisor Moulavi Alhaj Kaleel says when Zahran’s brother, Rilwan was making bombs, they informed the authorities.

Following are excerpts of the interview:

Moulavi will you tell us about your background?

A: I am an All Ceylon Islam Advisor. People in many areas know of me if you mention Kaleel Moulavi. The Muslim community across the country have come and met me to discuss any problem regarding the religion of Islam.

Are you someone who belongs to any organisation?

A: No, I am involved in religious affairs.

Are you connected to the Jamiyyathul Ulama Organisation?

A: No, I don’t let their politics rub off on me. We do work with political divisions too. That is done with the advice of the Jamiyyathul Ulama.

Who pays you for the work you do?

A: No one. I work voluntarily. I am doing social service for the country.

You are aware that our country went up in flames. The Sinhalese, Buddhists, Catholics, Tamils, Hindus, all those people faced a disaster. We do not know anything. How did Muslim extremists suddenly fall onto the heads of the people?

A: This is the question today. The entire world is shocked. Let me explain a bit. There are three types of Muslim devotees. I am saying this according to the book, the Quran. One is Mumin, those who live with great faith. They believe that profits, losses, happiness, and sadness happen according to the will of God. There is no point in embracing these since they are temporary. They believe that it is similar to a drop of dew on a blade of grass.

The other type is Muslim. They do what is convenient for them. They give up whatever they cannot do. If they cannot go to the mosque every day, they give that up. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said not to harm anyone by either your tongue or hands. They live, minding their own business. They are Muslim.

The third type is Munafiq. They act like Mumins and Muslims. They wear the hat and grow their beards. They have no faith at all in their minds. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) engaged in war with Munafiq people. They are the ones who fanned the flames. Their objective always is how to attack all the time.

Are you trying to say that those who carried out the attacks were Munafiqs?

A: Sri Lankan citizens should be clear that those belonging to this type are the Munafiq terrorists. Their objective is to eradicate Islam.

The citizens of this country do not know those things. It is the Moulavis who know about these segregations. What we know is that these extremist bombers are of the Muslim religion only. We have not seen any segregation or any divisions among the Muslims in this country?

A: There are never ending clashes between us. I am a man who clashed with them. There were arguments between us all the time.

Did you know the extremist Zahran Hashim?

A: I knew Zahran Hashim very well. When he sees me somewhere, he flees. If he hears that I am somewhere, he does not sight the place. There were arguments between us inside mosques. There were times when we hit and clashed with each other.

We got to know about a Zahran after 21 April only. You said you knew about him. Why did you not hand him over to the law enforcement authorities?

A: They did not attack Christians, but the Muslims. These terrorists who killed 250 persons have gone after assassinating the characters of more than 2.5 million Muslim people. If, on a Friday they jumped into a mosque with bombs, people would have had compassion regarding Muslims. If we were attacked, assistance would have come from other countries as well. They attacked places where all Sinhalese, Tamils, and Christians gather together. The entire country fell out with us. They looked at us with squints in their eyes.

Zahran had gone all over the country to hold lectures. Not on his own, but having set up a separate organisation. We cannot accept the fact that Muslim Leaders did not know about these things?

A: It was not a religion, it was a revolution. The word Thowheed” is not a terrorist word. It means oneness. They put this word in order to catch the Muslims. We realized that.

We did not see this opposition among Muslims, you are targeting them with now, prior to the bomb blasts in Sri Lanka. It is after that incident that you are saying these things. We saw how the Thowheed organisations were tied to Islam?

A: We had small differences among us regarding observances. We raised our hands and wished. They did not raise their hands. We clashed regarding these observances and rituals. But when it came to suicide bombing, we shouted and took to the streets.

Where was this battle against National Thowheed Jamaath you are talking about held? When did you take to the streets?

A: In August 2017 at Kattankudy. The Mayor of Kattankudy, Aswer knows about it. When Zahran brought materials to manufacture bombs, we took to the streets. We said he was going to set fire to the country and that Zahran was a terrorist and he had to be cornered. We put up posters asking that he be taken into custody immediately. 1,500 men and women took to the streets. No one listened.

Are you saying that the overall Muslim people lined up in protest against them? We did not see anything of the sort?

A: They were not publicised properly. We never thought that these fellows will do something so bad. We did not realise that they would kill themselves while killing 250 others. We thought that bombs would be exploded here and there and something similar to that will take place. We did have a hint that they will do something. We immediately informed intelligence divisions, but they did not take any notice. They did not capture them. They thought ‘Thambiya’ let them kill each other.

The story you are relating is being said by other Muslims too. We informed authorities, but those responsible did not take any action. Whom did you inform that such a dangerous situation will arise?

A: We informed the NIB. When I went to meet the Mayor of Kattankudy, Aswer, an officer of the Intelligence Division was seated in a chair opposite me. We clearly explained this dangerous situation.

We are hearing all of this only after approximately 300 lives were destroyed. Can you prove that you informed the Sri Lanka Police about Zahran and others?

A: We informed Intelligence Divisions, but nothing happened.

Did you tell regional Muslim Leaders about this?

A: All regional Muslim Leaders were aware of what was going to happen. 

But we got to know that bombs were being manufactured on a large scale, only in 2017. Then we took to the streets fearlessly. Previously, we were scared to do so.

When in 2017?

A: In the month of August in 2017. I can get the exact date from Mayor Aswer and give it to you.

There were Ministers and Deputy Ministers in the Eastern Province. Did you not inform Rauff Hakeem, Rishad Bathiudeen, and Hizbullah about this danger?

A: There was nothing to inform them about, all of them were aware of it. Had they not known, could we 1,500 take to the streets and protest? We engaged in the protests together with them.

What we want to know, is who the people are whom you informed?

A: I, finally told the FCID about this too.

The FCID is the Financial Crimes Investigation Division?

A: This was not a situation where we could watch and wait and we had to inform someone.

Can you give us the name of the officer who noted down your complaint?

A: Actually, I did not ask his name. I explained everything and gave a statement. I told them to kill them if they were seen anywhere.

Who is ‘this particular person’ your mention?

A: Zahran. It was said that the entire generation of Zahran’s could be destroyed. It was also said that he would be killed and the body dragged on to the road, so that the Police could take it away.

The respondent to this crime is the National Thowheed Jamaath Organisation. It was an organisation that was built among the Muslims. 

What was the action taken against this organisation by Muslim Leaders?

A: There were only 24 suicide bombers. I am saying with responsibility that 12 died. 12 are in custody. There is no one remaining and all of them are finished.

Are you saying that there were 24 suicide bombers?

A: Yes, 12 blew themselves up. We caught 7 fatal bombs.

Were you not aware of the fact that training camps were being maintained in Kattankudy?

A: Why not, we did know! We went and told the Police.

Did you show them?

A: We told them earlier and asked them to come that we will capture them for the Police, we said. No one came.

Are you alleging that the Government did not fulfil their responsibilities?

A: The Government and authorities, did not do their duty. They waited until the bombs exploded, to attack.

What have you got to say about swords being found in mosques?

A: That is the work of terrorist members. They brought swords, left them at mosques, and showed everybody.

To cut whom were the swords brought?

A: The swords were brought to attack the Muslims. Our honour is finished.

Swords were found not only in Kattankudy. They were discovered at Kollupitiya and a mosque in Slave Island?

A: There are 1,700 mosques. There were swords only in three of them.
There were 48 new swords which had been brought from a foreign country. 

Why were they brought?

A: You have to ask them. Swords were brought to attack us.

Minister Haleem says they were brought to cut grass and for the protection of female children. Now, you are saying that they were brought to attack Muslims. What are these stories?

A: They are mad stories!

You say without a doubt that these swords were brought to kill Muslims?

A: Not to kill them, but to attack the Muslims. To get rid of Islam. They destroyed our good name.

Sinhala people thought that these swords were collected in mosques in order to attack them. That is why the entire country became agitated. You are saying something else?

A: We say with responsibility that these swords were brought to attack Muslims and Islam. We have never taken up arms and will never do so either, nor will we allow others to do so. There is nothing we can win by fighting with weapons. We enjoy everything and live in this country. Why should we fight?

What is the connection between the sword and Islam?

A: There is no connection at all. However, there are images of swords on the Saudi flag, that is all. We have nothing to do with swords.

Were Muslim Religious Leaders aware of the fact that Zahran and others were connected to ISIS?

A: We knew that they were making bombs and were going to detonate them and kill themselves. We did not know that Zahran had any connection with ISIS, though.

It was reported previously that a group from Galewela had gone to Syria for combat training. Had Muslim Leaders identified that the connection between these incidents and Zahran’s procedures?

A: We did not know anything about that.

There is much controversy in the country that Muslim politicians such as Rishad Bathiudeen and Hizbullah had contact with these extremists?

A: That was what Intelligence Divisions found out. Let them give a proper reply. Investigations will be carried out, and if they are involved, punishing them is a task for authorities.

It seems as if you are engaged avoiding something very slightly?

A: I am not avoiding anything. I have no connections whatsoever with politicians.

At the time when 1,500 people took to the streets in protest of extremists at Kattankudy, was Deputy Minister Hizbullah involved in it?

A: We are aware of their conspiracies. We do not engage in discussions with them. They could put us in trouble too. I know about politicians from the time of former Minister Ashraff. I have nothing to do with them.

You do associate politicians. You know government authorities. But, even while knowing about this destruction ahead of time, you failed to prevent it?

A: I informed the President and the Prime Minister in writing. I informed intelligence divisions.

Can you give us copies of those letters?

A: They were published in the newspapers. Details were given in the Media.

When did Rilwan, the brother of Zahran, suffer an injury to his hand when a bomb exploded?

A: In February 2019. Even then we informed authorities that bombs were being manufactured. Rilwan suffered injuries and went blind in one eye.

Did the Kattankudy Police know about this?

A: Yes, they knew very well. It was officer Kasthuri of the Police there. You can write down the name.

Didn’t they take any action?

A: I do not know what sort of influence was brought to bear on them. They just ate and drank and gave up on everything.

With whom did you say that they ate and drank?

A: I meant they just ate and drank and did not carry out any investigations and swallowed up everything.

Are you making this allegation about the Police?

A: Overall, all the authorities. Both ruling and opposition parties.

When Zahran’s younger brother Rilwan was injured in the bomb blast, where was he taken?

A: I do not know that. Finally, he died too. When the house was raided, he detonated a bomb at Saindamarudu. Three of our people who gave the tip-off were rewarded with 3 million rupees by the Government. We gave back that money to be used on behalf of those who suffered due to the bombs and their welfare activities.

When Zahran disappeared from Kattankudy, did you not try to find out what happened to him?

A: Why not! We informed authorities daily of the places he was in. We told the Police. Since they did not take any steps, this disaster occurred. That is why we feel sad. Now, they are accusing us.

Now the destruction has already taken place. Even though you say you informed everybody, even the Muslim Community could not prevent it from happening. As a newspaper we are questioning these things since we cannot allow such a disaster to strike our people ever again?

A: Nothing like this will ever happen from Muslim Society.

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