Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, delivering a Special Message at St. Anthony’s Shrine, Kochchikade, Kotahena to commemorate the third anniversary of the Easter Sunday Attack, said yesterday that there had been a plot to ensure that the attacks took place.
“That the attempt made by the then President of Sri Lanka to prevent the arrest of Zahran Hashim and his group had played a big role in ensuring that the attacks did take place. The story of the arrest of the Deputy Inspector General of Police, who had even obtained an arrest warrant on Zahran, makes us wonder whether there was a plot to ensure that the attacks happened.
The cardinal said that they had been compelled to ask St. Anthony to help them get at the truth concerning the attacks.
He said it was clear that the people who carried out those attacks were some misguided radical Muslim youth who did not understand the noble message of the Prophet Mohammed.
“Yet, as time goes, it is becoming clearer and we have
confirmation about it from what the former Attorney General, Dappula de Livera stated to a journalist of News First on 07 May 2021, that there was a “grand conspiracy” behind this deed of terror and that there was probably a political plot behind it.”
Given below are excerpts of the Cardinal’s speech: “Our suspicions on this matter have been confirmed by several factors, which include the following:
“1) That the Parliamentary Select Committee, which came out with its study and report of these attacks, mentioned in its Executive Summary that there are indications of an attempt by those responsible for intelligence to somehow hide the true facts of the case and to simply attribute it to Zahran Hashim and his group.
“2) That the attempt made by the then President of Sri Lanka to somehow prevent the arrest of Zahran Hashim and his group and the discouragement of attempts by the Police to get them arrested, played a big role in ensuring that the attacks did take place. The story of the arrest of the Deputy Inspector General of Police, who had even obtained an arrest warrant on Zahran, is un-understandable, unless, we posit a possible plot to somehow ensure that the attacks do go ahead. The attempts by the security service authorities to callously ignore the information they had concerning the training camp and the collection of explosives as well as firearms found at Wanathavilluwa in Puttalam, made the attacks a reality.
“3) That the four warnings given by the Indian Intelligence Service to the Security Officers of the Police and the Intelligence Services, were completely downplayed and ignored without any information being given to the public about these and thus making the public undefended and exposed to the attacks. Indeed, what is most surprising is that the security officers circulated among themselves a confidential letter to warn each other, while not giving this information to the general public. Thus the general public became exposed to these attacks.
“Why was that kind of policy followed by people in responsible positions, is a question which has not received a clear answer. The attempt made by some security officials to get the attacks accepted by ISIS as something they had organized, when it was clear that even ISIS did not know about it, is also another mystery. So, the question can be asked, why the security officers were interested in getting ISIS to claim responsibility for something they didn’t even know about. Were they trying to hide someone else who was behind all this?
“4) That the former president of Sri Lanka left the island without appointing an acting Defence Minister and leaving the entire situation exposed and the expectation in some quarters that these attacks might create inter-communal violence. Indeed 6000 swords had been imported and distributed to Muslim homes and Mosques in order to arm them with those means of self-defense. Thus, there was the expectation of violence! Who permitted these swords which are offensive weapons is also an unanswered question. Normally a Ministry of Defence clearance should have been obtained. This would have been part of the plot, which fortunately did not happen due to our insisting with the affected parties that they should not react violently towards the Muslims. We are deeply apprehensive of this act of omission by the former President. Why did he do that is yet another unanswered question.
“5) That on two other occasions after the Easter bombings, some extremist groups close to the present regime in Sri Lanka and inimical to the Muslims tried to provoke communal violence between the Sinhalese and the Muslims was again a politically motivated provocation.
“6) That the present government continuously refuses to carry out the recommendations of the Presidential Commission Report with regard to the prosecution of some of the top level political and security as well as intelligence officers for criminal neglect of duty in the matter. We have to sincerely ask why they are taking that attitude. In the case of several of these top officers, the prosecution has been so poorly handled that even the cases that have been filed against them by the previous government have been dismissed by the courts. So we see a spirit of collaboration between the existing government and the Attorney General’s Department to treat these cases in a slip shod manner.
“Typical was the recent release of the former Defence Secretary and the Inspector General of Police who were acquitted and discharged whereas, on a visit to the Shrine after the attacks, the then Defence Secretary did state: “We knew about these attacks beforehand but did not think these would be so extensive.” Besides, the attitude of the present Inspector General of Police from whom we have repeatedly asked to implement the recommendations of the Commission and to conduct internal inquiries against some of the officers working under him who have been recommended for prosecution by the Presidential Commission and his giving most of these officers’ promotions instead is highly suspicious. This we consider as an insult added to the injury caused to our people.
“Besides, there are different elements in the Presidential Commission report and information provided by some others that are recommended or need to be investigated further. Yet, no such investigations have been conducted up to now. Given this entire situation, we see that an attempt has been made to somehow lay the blame only on the radical elements of the Islamic community while protecting all the others who have had something to do with these attacks, either in the manner of direct involvement or in the manner of not carrying out their duties to prevent them. Needless to say, that the toll was heavy with the loss of 269 precious lives, out of which 47 foreigners from 14 different countries and the rest, all Sri Lankans of different linguistic and religious groups and 500 injured, some with lifelong disabilities. The erroneous way in which selective carrying out of the recommendations have been done, is another indication of manipulation of the whole attempt to get the truth- and seeking to only show the responsibility of the Islamic component of these attacks and trying to hide the rest of the facts deliberately.
“We wish to conclude this by quoting a section from the Executive Summary of the Parliamentary Select Committee Report which indicates a possibility of a grand plot as mentioned by the former Attorney General.
“[I quote] “The PSC makes a very serious finding in terms of the status of the state intelligence apparatus, where intelligence information known to a few was not shared with relevant parties. The PSC also observes that further investigations will be needed to understand whether those with vested interests did not act on intelligence so as to create chaos and instill fear and uncertainty in the country in the lead up to the Presidential Election to be held later in the year. Such a situation would then lead to the call for a change of regime to contain such acts of terrorism. Coincidently or not so coincidentally, the security situation and fear would be unleashed months away from the Presidential Election.” [p.3 Executive Summary Parliamentary Select Committee Report].
Until we are satisfied that a transparent and just inquiry is conducted by all parties concerned and the truth is discovered with regard to the responsibility for these attacks, the Catholic Community in Sri Lanka will not be satisfied with the way things are happening and we reject all attempts to mislead us in this matter. We want, especially, the international community which has also suffered as a result of the loss of lives of some of their citizens to pressure the government of Sri Lanka and ensure that justice is meted out to these innocent people who lost their lives in these attacks.”
Disclaimer: Easter Sunday carnage: Cardinal reiterates possibility of grand plot - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view