Machinations and Incompetence that assisted Zahran and His Killers

Editorial in The Island, 3 August 2019 = “Who prevented Zahran’s Arrest”

The UNP may have thought that it would be able to mount a political blitzkrieg, by way of a parliamentary probe into the Easter Sunday carnage, and lay the blame for the tragedy entirely at the feet of President Maithripala Sirisena, who is the Minister of Defence. Its plan to discredit him and absolve itself of the blame for the government’s failure to prevent the terror attacks has gone awry to all intents and purposes.

The UNP seems to have opened a can of worms. It has now been revealed that the National Thowheed Jamaath (NTJ) and its leader Zahran received kid glove treatment while the police were under the UNP wing of the yahapalana government. The NTJ scourge could have been eliminated if the police had taken stern action when it went on a spree of violence in Kattankudy in 2017. At that time, the UNP and the SLFP were cohabiting and both of them have to share the blame for police inaction, which allowed the NTJ to graduate from swords to bombs within two years or so.

The Attorney General’s Department, on Thursday, sought to dispute a very serious allegation levelled by the Terrorist Investigation Department (TID) that it had slept on a file containing evidence against the NTJ, for two years. Claiming that the TID could have arrested the NTJ terrorists on its own without waiting for instructions, the AG’s Department said the police had not complied with its request for a report on the Kaththankudy incidents following a Muslim religious leader’s complaint to the AG about them. The blame game is on!

Deputy Solicitor General Dileepa Peiris revealed that the TID had failed to arrest Zahran even though there were two arrest warrants on him, issued by courts in Batticaloa and Colombo, in 2017 and 2018 respectively. The TID has claimed that it could not trace Zahran. If so, it is not worth its salt. Its job is to track down elusive terrorists.

This is a country where people get arrested even for dumping garbage in public places. The CID and the TID have arrested far more elusive terrorists than the NTJ leader. Zahran would not have been able to evade arrest but for his political links.

The AG’s Department has said the TID did not cooperate with it on investigations into the NTJ violence. Why did the TID behave in that manner? Did it do so at the behest of government politicians protecting Zahran, who backed the yahapalana coalition at both presidential and parliamentary polls in 2015? Or, did the TID work according to its own agenda?

What is more shocking is the DSG Peiris’ revelation, before the PSC, that the Kaththankudy OIC had said he was unable to act against the NTJ over the Kattankudy violence due to political pressure. The most important question, however, went unasked; who brought political pressure to bear on him to steer clear of the NTJ terrorists? Names must be named.

It may be recalled that incumbent IGP Pujith Jayasundera was shown on television, in 2016, promising someone over the phone, at a public event in Ratnapura, that he would not arrest a certain individual. It was clear that he was talking to a minister. Did a government politician exert pressure on the Kaththankudy OIC, through the police chief, in a similar manner, not to arrest Zahran and his fellow terrorists?

The only way it can be ascertained why the police did not act against the NTJ is to question the Kaththankudy OIC and the IGP. The politician/s who intervened to prevent Zahran’s arrest must be identified, arrested forthwith and questioned.



Shamindra Ferdinando: How AG Dept., facilitated Thowheed project revealed” Island, 3 August 2019

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