by Special Correspondent
Let it be crystal clear: It is an absolute imperative for each and every one of us to shoulder the profound responsibility and unwavering duty of seeking the unvarnished truth. There shall be no room for blind animosity towards the publication of this investigated report, rooted in a trove of gathered data pertaining to the events elucidated herein. Understand this unequivocally – these are not mere digital manoeuvres, but rather invaluable fragments of reality, etched on the canvas of the world, holding the power to unveil the indisputable truth.
A Colombo-based weekly newspaper issued an extensive response in its Anidda publication to a series of articles authored by this writer published in local media including, The Leader, an online newspaper, regarding the Easter attack. While the response was measured, it prominently defended its stance, heavily leaning on its convictions and compelling yet incontestable facts. While some aspects raised are undoubtedly constructive, most remain contentious within the wider society. It is evident, however, that the answers furnished by their sources barely scratch the surface, rendering it essential to delve deeper into uncharted territories concerning the Easter attack.
Within the Criminal Investigation Department, there emerges a senior officer thrust into the spotlight by social media and certain local media outlets, particularly Channel Four, in relation to the Easter attack. Mr. Nishantha Silva, a key figure in Channel Four’s exposé, reportedly shares a close association with this officer. While both officers boast impressive criminal investigation acumen, it’s apparent that their credibility has been significantly compromised by their deep-seated political affiliations and the involvement of various organizations, individuals, and societal groups sympathetic to their cause.
This deliberate manipulation has resulted in the suppression of crucial information and data pertinent to the crime at hand. Consequently, it becomes imperative to shed light on some of the pivotal facets surrounding this issue. Providing answers to the questions posed herein is not just a responsibility but a noble duty that we extend to all who can offer enlightenment.
Conspiracy to Conceal Catastrophic Errors
The officers who served within the Criminal Investigation Department cannot simply take refuge in cameo appearances on Channel Four to obscure their egregious errors. Such actions fall woefully short of what is required of them. The majority of the challenges they faced during their tenures were rooted in political and institutional complexities that demanded resolution at the official level. Cleansing their record necessitates a thorough evaluation of their actions during their CID service, not the invention of fanciful theories to obfuscate their missteps. Authentic pearls shine brightly, while fabricated ones are artificially polished to shroud the truth. The misguided decisions made during their tenure precipitated the calamity the nation had to endure at the hands of others. Justice must be done, not just for the sake of truth, but for the memory of the innocent lives lost in the Easter attack. It is a duty that cannot be shirked, no matter how unpalatable the task.
As per the official judgment rendered by the United States Department of Justice regarding the Easter attack, Naufar Maulavi emerges as the mastermind behind this heinous event, while Zahran and his extremist cohort are identified as the orchestrators and executors of this malevolent plot. If one were to dispute the accuracy of the United States’ judgment, then it is incumbent upon the high-ranking figures within the Catholic Church, including His Eminence Ranjith Cardinal Malcolm, along with those individuals endeavouring to build a case for asylum, to seek redress directly from the United States of America. They have the option to engage with the country’s embassy in Colombo and legally challenge the pronouncement of the U.S. Department of Justice. This represents the initial step towards addressing the persistent call for an international investigation into the attack. However, it is imperative to ensure that this tragic event is not exploited as a means to further ulterior motives, thereby distorting the broader context of the conflict against the LTTE.
The impartial investigations conducted by the FBI and AFP remain unchallenged
Furthermore, the Sri Lankan government has already initiated an international investigation into the Easter attack, with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) conducting comprehensive and transparent inquiries, free from any interference by the Sri Lankan government and backed by unequivocal support. The official statement issued by the Ministry of Defense is founded upon the findings of this exhaustive process. Consequently, there is no necessity for the government to embark on a separate investigation to discern the veracity of the sensational claims made by a handful of individuals on channels like Channel 4, whose motives appear to be driven by personal interests. It is crucial to recognize that Channel 4 is a media outlet, not a judicial body.
Sri Lanka cannot afford to be distracted from its pressing duties by reacting solely to reports from certain media organizations. The excessive attention given to such programs by local media and social groups is baseless and counterproductive, serving only to sow discord without due verification from credible sources. However, the intricately woven conspiracy theory underpinning this film demands a thorough exposure and a nuanced understanding of its political ramifications. In this context, it is anticipated that the special committee appointed by President Wickremesinghe will provide Channel 4 with a significant opportunity to present their evidence before the committee, thereby granting a fair chance to discern the truth.
The question arises as to why the investigations and conclusions put forth by internationally renowned criminal investigation agencies regarding the Easter attack remain unchallenged. What compels individuals to suggest an international-level investigation led by a former officer from Sri Lanka’s Criminal Investigation Department rather than relying on these reputable institutions? Why concoct conspiracy theories to suppress established facts? Unfortunately, it is worth acknowledging that just as Naufar Maulavi is implicated as the mastermind behind the Easter attack, the architects of these conspiracy narratives may indeed be individuals who once served within the Criminal Investigation Department. Their motive may stem from an effort to conceal their own prior missteps within the department, thus warranting scrutiny and accountability.
This narrative must be told. Those in question have been adept at shaping the narrative to suit their interests, dismissing any evidence that contradicts their stance with a disheartening lack of transparency.
The Architects of Conspiracy Narratives
In the wake of the ‘good governance’ government coming to power in 2015, a significant decision was made to deactivate the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI), redirecting focus towards the Criminal Investigation Department. This shift was not arbitrary; it was driven by justifiable concerns. The reputation of the DMI had become entangled in unfortunate incidents involving unarmed individuals who held sway in society, including journalists. It was a period when calls for international investigations into the Easter attack were being shamelessly voiced.
The ‘Yahapalana‘ government rode to power on the promise of delivering justice for the extrajudicial killings and attacks that had scarred the nation. Consequently, the DMI was distanced from its core duties, compelling the Criminal Investigation Department to assume responsibility for overseeing all operations involving members of the Directorate of Military Intelligence.
The primary role assigned to the Criminal Investigation Department was intelligence operations concerning the escalating violence perpetrated by Islamic extremists throughout the country. However, the growing influence of these extremists was a challenge that the Criminal Investigation Department alone could not confront, owing to its limited understanding of the situation. Recognizing this, the DMI determined that it was imperative to keep at least a few selected politicians informed about the developments related to extremist growth. On September 24, 2016, a special dossier was delivered to President Maithripala Sirisena (a Sinhala translation), Dr. Wijedasa Rajapaksa, Dr. Harshada Silva, Mr. Patali Champika Ranawaka, Mr. Udaya Gammanpila and other prominent politicians representing the government at that time.
Only Wijedasa Raised the Alarm on Islamic Terrorism
Remarkably, it was only Dr. Wijedasa Rajapakshe who heeded the warning and spoke out about the impending crisis. The rest remained silent, seemingly for their own political gain. When Dr. Rajapakshe voiced his concerns, individuals like Mr. Mujibur Rahman vehemently opposed him. Meanwhile, the festering wounds inflicted by these extremists continued to fester, leading to eleven major incidents related to the Easter attack:
- March 10, 2017: Attack on a traditional Muslim organization at Aliyar Junction, Kathankudi
- May 17, 2017: Shooting of Mohammad Masji of National Tawheed Jamaat
- February 6, 2018: Assault on a member of the People’s Movement for Good Governance (PMG)
- February 12, 2018: Attack on People’s Movement for Good Governance (PMG) office
- June 8, 2018: Kattankudy Palani Bawa shot dead
- August 26, 2018: Rilwan Explosive Test at Ariyamapati
- November 30, 2018: Killing of two Vavunathivu police officers
- December 23 – 25, 2018: Mawanella vandalism of the Buddha statues
- January 16, 2019: Vanathavilluwa Explosive Test
- March 08, 2019: Criminal investigation division informant and a group of people shot at Talseem
- April 16, 2019: Motorcycle blast close to the Kattankudy Bridge.
Of particular significance is the need to investigate the killing of two Vavunathivu police officers on November 30, 2018, as allegations arose suggesting that the DMI had misled officers from the Criminal Investigation Department. This incident raises critical questions about the competence of the Army Intelligence Division, as it implies that even the most skilled criminal investigators in Sri Lanka could be misled by someone within the DMI. If these investigators, touted as some of the best in Sri Lanka, can be swayed so easily, it raises doubts about their competence. Furthermore, the professional integrity of these officers seems compromised when a single phone call to a particular actor-politician can seemingly erase their sense of duty and independence, reducing them to menial tasks such as washing dishes. Such revelations demand thorough scrutiny and accountability.
What transpired in the aftermath of the tragic killing of the two police officers in Vavunathivu on November 30, 2018? A team led by a Superintendent of Police from the Criminal Investigation Department was dispatched from Colombo to investigate the incident on-site. Upon arrival, the officer requested that the army intelligence officers operating in the vicinity provide him with all available information regarding the crime.
Hidden Truth Behind the Vavunathivu Case
Initial suspicions surrounding the attack pointed to the involvement of former LTTE member Ajanthan. Information pertaining to the incident flowed in, with some sources suggesting the hand of Podiseelan, while others implicated Karuna or Pillayan. According to the information circulating in the area, the Military Intelligence Division had been informed that former LTTE members were responsible for the killings. Seeing evidence is one thing, but it cannot be considered misleading. It falls under the purview of the Criminal Investigation Department to utilize the information provided in their criminal investigations.
It was approximately three days after the crime had occurred when the CID arrived at the crime scene. Upon conducting a “thorough investigation” on-site, they recovered a jacket they claimed to have found in a nearby culvert, around 1.5 km away. The jacket had been handed over to the police by a Tamil individual, and it raised suspicions that it might belong to the perpetrators. Despite the heavy rain that had fallen at the time, a crime investigation canine, having traced the scent for about three kilometres, ultimately led them to the residence of Ajanthan, a former member of the LTTE. As a result, Ajanthan was apprehended. However, it’s crucial to note that a month prior to the incident, Ajanthan had a confrontation with several police officers, a matter unrelated to military intelligence. This detail seems to have been overlooked by former heads of the CID.
Meanwhile, the DMI persisted in reporting the information circulating in the area regarding the murder. Accusations of misleading the Criminal Investigation Department were levelled against the Army Intelligence Division, but in the first week of April 2019, the division forwarded a report to the Criminal Investigation Department. This report unequivocally stated that the killing of the two police officers in Vavunathivu was the work of Zahran’s followers. Strangely, this report remained largely ignored, with some individuals vested in criminal investigations seemingly suppressing it to conceal their own shortcomings. It stands as the real enigma behind the Vavunathivu incident, revealing not a tale of misguidance but a stark illustration of failure. It’s an account that implicates the very authorities tasked with safeguarding justice.
Why did then the CID chief decline when the SIS requested the arrest of Rilwan and Saini?
This narrative also relates to a connected incident. On March 7, 2019, officers from the Criminal Investigation Department were dispatched from Colombo to the Pasikuda area of Batticaloa. They successfully pinpointed the concealed locations of Zahran Hashim’s two brothers, Rilwan and Saini, as well as Army Mohideen based on information provided by the State Intelligence Service. They requested the arrest of these individuals, prompting the deployment of a sub-inspector, a sergeant, and others from the Criminal Investigation Department who arrived in Colombo for this purpose.
However, they returned without making the arrests, and during the investigation conducted by the Presidential Commission into the Easter attack, the sub-inspector was questioned by the judges. In a deeply emotional moment, he admitted that Zahran’s followers/siblings were not apprehended on that day because senior officials within the Criminal Investigation Department had explicitly instructed them not to do so. The critical question arises: Who was serving as the Director of the Criminal Investigation Department during this period?
Moreover, the Sub Inspector of Police went on to assert before the Presidential Commission that, instead of arresting the primary individuals connected to Zahran as pinpointed by the State Intelligence Service, higher-ranking officials within the Criminal Investigation Department had directed him to establish rapport with them. The judges presiding over the Presidential Commission found this statement astonishing and inquired, “Are officers within the Criminal Investigation Department fostering relationships with terrorists instead of apprehending them?” This became even more evident when Army Mohideen was apprehended by the State Intelligence Service and the police on April 25, 2019, revealing that a sergeant from the Criminal Investigation Department had been in contact with him.
It should now be abundantly clear who propagated a conspiracy theory to obfuscate the truth surrounding the Easter attacks. It appears that there was a calculated effort to shift blame onto others in order to conceal their own failings. Consequently, it is now evident who the mastermind behind this conspiracy is and for what purposes it was conceived.
Source: The Leader. Click here to read the original version of this article published in Sinhala