The DIG in charge of the Anti-Terrorism and Investigation Division Nalaka de Silva who has been interdicted, admitted that it was wrong to not inform the rest of the police regarding the open warrant obtained from the Colombo Magistrate's Court to arrest Saharan Hashim before the Easter attack.
This was when he was giving evidence before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Easter attack.
DIG Nalaka de Silva, who is currently interdicted, testified before the Commission for the second day stated that the lecturers who came from Saudi Arabia to teach in the madrassa schools that were active in the country during the period 2005-2015 carried out extremist teachings in those schools.
He said that the Department of Muslim Religious Affairs had intervened through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to issue visas to the lecturers and later they were informed to direct through the State Intelligence Service.
Nalaka de Silva said that he was transferred as the Director of the Counter Terrorism and Investigation Division on February 25, 2015, adding that it was a political transfer.
However, he said that the counter-terrorism unit had been restructured and two separate units had been set up to look into religious extremism and underworld activities.
The unit was then provided with a state-of-the-art field surveillance van by the Japanese government in August 2018 and was able to identify a person from a group of people after being given a photograph.
The commission inquired whether it was possible to identify Saharan Hashim by inserting a picture of him into the vehicle.
Nalaka de Silva stated that although there was such a facility, the vehicle was not taken out of Colombo.
Nalaka de Silva further stated that he was arrested two months after receiving the vehicle and that the CID had instructed him to remove the vehicle from usage.
The Commission then questioned whether he had attended the Security Coordinating Meeting.
He stated that his Deputy Director participated after 24-09-2017 for a special reason.
The Commission asked why he had left the meeting.
Replying to this, Nalaka de Silva stated that at the Defense Coordinating Committee meeting held on 24-09-2017, the then Defense Secretary Kapila Vaidyaratne had accused him of not inquiring into the information received regarding the activities of the Turkish terrorist organization FETO.
Nalaka de Silva further stated that he did not know about the incident until it was revealed by the Director of State Intelligence and that the intelligence services should have informed about it, adding that intelligence would not fall from the sky just because he became the director of T I D.
Nalaka de Silva further stated that the reason for withholding such information was that it could have affected the policies of the government at that time and the success of the process could be seen in comparison to the Easter attack.
He further stated that although he had obtained an open warrant for the arrest of Saharan Hashim through the Colombo Magistrate's Court on 09-07-2018, he had not informed all the police stations in the island.
Nalaka de Silva further stated that although he had sought advice from the Attorney General before obtaining the warrant, he had not received any special advice and after obtaining the warrant, he had sought the advice of the Attorney General through two files to execute the warrant and he did not receive any guidance.
The Presidential Commission stated that the relevant officials of the Attorney General's Department will be summoned before the Commission in this regard in the future.
Meanwhile, statements were recorded from former Municipal Councillor Madhumadhava Aravinda who appeared before the Police Investigation Unit this morning regarding the Easter attack for about an hour.
Meanwhile, former IGP Pujith Jayasundara appeared before the Police Investigation Unit on the 4th of this month.