Sri Lanka’s CID Director SSP Shani Abeysekara said that 63 suspects are currently being held in custody over their links to the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks, including 12 “hard core” terrorists.
Abeysekara said among those being detained there are “four or five” suicide attackers who had not detonated their bombs on Easter Sunday.
Additionally, the CID Director argued that Army Chief Mahesh Senanayake cannot claim he had no knowledge about the National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ). Abeysekara told the media at a press briefing held at the CID that Army Intelligence officials had attended the initial investigations when CID investigators initially discovered a haul of explosives of the NTJ in Wanathawilluwa on January 17, 2019.
“So how can he claim he did not have any knowledge when his intelligence officials were there and even gathered the necessary information,” Abeysekara asked.
According to Abeysekara, the CID’s notes on the investigation is proof that Army intelligence was present in Wanathawilluwa.
Addressing allegations that the Easter Sunday attacks took place due to intelligence officials being arrested for various crimes, Abeysekara said prior to 2015 those labelled as ‘war heroes’ were not incarcerated and roamed free, but nevertheless, horrific acts of terrorism still took place in the country.
According to Abeysekara, the CID had attempted to locate Zahran Hashim following the discovery of the explosives haul in January as it was linked to him and the NTJ during investigations.
“We traveled across the country,” Abeysekara said, adding that however the communication application ‘Threema’ used by the terrorists was one of the main stumbling blocks in investigations.
Commenting on recent investigations, Abeysekara also confirmed that Rs.134 million in bank accounts belonging to 41 individuals and companies suspected to have links to the NTJ and the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks have been held.
The CID Director also said assets worth over Rs. 1 billion belonging to those suspects and companies have been identified.
Questioned by the journalists on the CID Director’s statement to the Parliament Select Committee (PSC) that there was no proof to establish direct links between the Easter Sunday attacks and the ISIS, Abeysekara pointed out that the ISIS Leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi took several days to claim responsibility for the attacks, although there was no proof that the suicide bombers had training in Syria or had direct communication with ISIS.