10/25/2019, 14.15
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Parliamentary committee blames President Sirisena for Easter Sunday attacks

by Melani Manel Perera

The Committee slams Sirisena for "actively undermining" the government and the security services. Serious intelligence lapses led to hundreds of dead and wounded. Action must be taken against Wahhabism, fake news and growing extremism.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – The Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on Wednesday filed its report on the Easter Sunday attacks blaming President Maithripala Sirisena.

President Sirisena is accused of "actively undermining" the government and security system, leading to serious intelligence lapses ahead of the terror attacks against three churches and three luxury hotels. This is a turning point for the inquiry into the country’s worst terror incident.

Until 21 April 2019, Sri Lanka had been untouched by Islamic extremism. At the time, President Sirisena blamed the country's security services for keeping him in the dark about various terrorist warnings.

However, senior officials (including detained police chief and the former secretary do the Defence Ministry) have always maintained that they reported the correct information, a position upheld in court.

The PSC report notes that President Sirisena “failed in numerous occasions to give leadership and also actively undermined government and systems, including having ad hoc NSC (National Security Council) meetings”. This left out key individuals from discussions and led to failure by the secret services.

“This failure by the SIS (State Intelligence Service) has resulted in hundreds of deaths, many more injured and immeasurable devastation to Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans and that must not be treated lightly,” the PSC report says.

The latter goes on to observe that it is important to ascertain whether those with vested interests did not act on intelligence reports in order to create chaos and instil fear and uncertainty in the lead up to the Presidential election on 16 November.  

Such a situation then would lead to the call for a change of regime to contain such acts of terrorism. This is probable, given that Sirisena is not running for re-election and the favourite is the brother of former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The report makes various recommendations that require urgent attention. These include controlling and monitoring religious extremism (like Wahhabism), fake news, and media reporting as well as holding politicians and people’s representatives accountable, and reforming the educational sector to counter growing extremism.

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