Colombo: Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has said that the Sri Lankan government, along with the cabinet of ministers, are responsible for the mistakes and lapses which enabled a local terror group to launch successful attacks on Easter Sunday that killed more than 250 people on April 21.
The prime minister made the statement while testifying before the Parliamentary Select Committee, appointed to probe the Easter Sunday blasts, on Tuesday, Daily Mirror reported.
"Certainly there had been a lapse. There has been a lapse in gathering information on Zahran and his team during the transitional period from which the terror group moved from extremism to launch a violent campaign. The government cannot run away from responsibility. A probe is being conducted to determine what went wrong," Wickremesinghe said.
From time to time, the Prime Minister added, he received reports from the National Security Council. He stated that he had also received a few reports from the Minister of Law and Order.
"Those reports had been sent by the intelligence units. The reports were of the ISIS sympathisers and their religious clashes. We had been informed of a Lankan dying in Syria while fighting for ISIS," he said.
The Prime Minister said he was not invited to attend the Security Council meeting after October 2018. "I attended the Security Council meeting in October, 2018, and was not invited for the meeting thereafter. Later I found that Inspector General of Police, Pujith Jayasundara, too had not been invited for the meeting. I was also able to find out that the Security Council meeting was cancelled since October 2018," he said.
Responding to a question raised by Committee on whether he received any information on Zahran, the alleged mastermind of the Easter terror attacks, the Prime Minister said that there was information on strikes and demonstrations. "However there was no information of terrorist activities," he said.
"We handed over the operations to the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID). Police had informed the Attorney General's Department. The TID obtained a warrant against Zahran under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Act. They thought Zahran left the country via sea to India," he claimed.
The Prime Minister stressed that he did not receive any information of prior warning regarding the deadly attacks before April 21.
On April 11, India's intelligence agencies sent a memo to the Sri Lankan authorities with names, addresses, and even phone numbers of the culprits and warned that a local Muslim group, identified as National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ), was planning suicide attacks on Catholic churches and the Indian High Commission in the capital, Colombo.