Alarms were sounded from 2013 – Salley | Daily News


Parliamentary Select Committee probing Easter Sunday attacks:

Alarms were sounded from 2013 – Salley

The Parliamentary Select Committee on Easter Sunday attacks. Pictures by Wasitha Patabandige
The Parliamentary Select Committee on Easter Sunday attacks. Pictures by Wasitha Patabandige

Former Governor of the Western Province Azath Salley, appearing before the Parliamentary Select Committee for the first time, testified that during 2013 and 2014, he had informed the then Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa several times about the threat posed by the extremists elements including the breakaway National Thowheed Jamaath to no avail

“We have produced a video which shows Zahran hoisting an ISIS flag. Yet there was no action taken,” he told the committee. “In 2017, Zahran led a group that destroyed 120 homes in Kattankudy and until people protested, the police did nothing. The only Officer in Charge of the Police Station who wanted to have him arrested, was transferred,” he said.

Salley said that a week prior to the Easter attack on April 21, he had accompanied President Maithripala Sirisena on a official tour in Batticaloa. “At the meeting, the Inspector General of Police was sitting behind me. I told him that the Sri Lanka Thowheed Jamaath members were holding prayers at mosque in Malwana. The IGP called the Assistant Superintendent of Police who replied that there was nothing the police could do and prayers would be held the following Friday. Zahran was among those seven individuals.”

He questioned why Abdul Razick was still at large even after having claimed on many videos that Islam is ISIS in Sri Lanka. “When there is an individual who is spewing hate speech and when there is ample evidence against him, no one seeks to apprehend him. His latest video was released three days before my resignation where he states that the name Baghdadi, the head of the IS caliphate, gives him goose bumps because he is so revered.” When asked by the committee if he poses a threat, he replied it was “possible.”

The former governor produced a document stating that there were 11 complaints at the Kattankudy Police Station against Zahran and his accomplices. When the Health Minister queried from the witness if he was aware that Zahran could have been among the 25 individuals who were paid for providing intelligence information, Salley replied that they were aware that Abdul Razick was among the 25.”

“The force that prevented the arrest of Abdul Razick is now one of the voices which gave approval and sanctioned the efforts of extremists such as Zahran,” he said. “When I asked to arrest him, I was arrested on a detention order and offered five million to leave the country. Or to take the money and divide it among my party members to initiate a political campaign, so that I would keep myself busy.”

He alleged that there are nearly 100,000 such followers of extremism and that the situation had not been adequately dealt with yet. “It started with Aluthgama and then went on to Digana, Mawanella, Minuwangoda. Innocent Muslims are classified as terrorists and arrested on arbitrary charges. This induces hate.”

He said Zahran had offered help for political parties in the Eastern Province, but many had questioned how he could help several parties within a precinct. “Ameer Ali was offered but he refused, he finally signed up with Eastern Province Governor M.L.M Hizbullah for the parliamentary election campaign in August 2015, he said.

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