Ex-Defence Secretary Fernando informed of NJT and its activities; witness tells PCoI

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Former State Intelligence Service Director, Senior DIG Nilantha Jayawardena in his testimony to the Presidential Commission of Inquiry probing the 2019 April 21st Attacks on Wednesday (26) said Former President Maithripala Sirisena was present at the National Security Council meetings when the SIS made presentations on the spreading of religious extremism in the country.

This was revealed when the witness was cross-examined by Counsel Dilshan Jayasuriya appearing for former Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, Hemasiri Fernando.

Responding to a question on whether the Secretaries of the Ministry of Defence were aware of reports on religious extremism despite position changing hands on several occasions during the previous Government, Senior DIG Jayawardena said the Defence Secretaries had the opportunity to gain knowledge by referring to reports were available in the Defence Secretary’s office.

When asked whether he had personally met Fernando at the time of his appointment as Defence Secretary and made him aware of religious extremism spreading at the time, Senior DIG Jayawardena said on 13th November 2018, he informed Fernando regarding the National Thowheed Jama’at, its leader Zaharan Hashim, Sri Lankans who had joined (IS) and many other matters concerned.