State Intelligence Service (SIS) had received information in February, 2019 from an intelligence service of a powerful western country that National Thowheed Jama’at (NTJ) Leader Zahran Hashim was overseas, former SIS Director SDIG Nilantha Jayawardena yesterday informed PCoI probing the Easter Sunday attacks.
SDIG Jayawardena made this statement in response to a question raised during cross examination by Counsel Major I.P.D. Prageeth who appeared on behalf of a former Senior officer who served at the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI).
Accordingly, Counsel Prageeth questioned the witness with regard to minutes shared at the intelligence review meeting held on March 19, 2019.
SDIG Jayawardena said that according to the minutes of the intelligence review meeting, the former senior officer of DMI had reported that Zahran may have fled to India in March, 2019.
Counsel Prageeth questioned witness whether the report shared by the DMI at the following review meeting was an obstacle to conduct the SIS inquiry with regard to Zahran Hashim.
Responding to the question Mr. Jayawardena said that there was no barrier from the DMI to the SIS inquiry, as it shared the particular report with regard to Zahran and his location.
“According to information the SIS received, Zahran was in the country in March 2019. DMI usually enquired about matters pertaining to the LTTE and that is what I observed during my tenure as SIS Director,” he said.
However, during cross-examination, Counsel Prageeth highlighted that there was a gap between DMI and SIS with regard to sharing of information pertaining to Islamic extremism and Zahran’s extremist practices.