Zahran was engaged in extremism from 2013: DIG Nalaka

Former TID DIG Nalaka Silva yesterday said that National Thawheeth Jama'ath (NTJ) Leader Mohammed Zahran had been engaged in extremism from 2013 while he had embraced violent extremism from the year 2016.

DIG Nalaka Silva stated this before the Parliamentary select committee appointed to look into the Easter Sunday attacks that the TID had been after Zahran since 2013.

“TID was engaged in anti-extremism activities since 2013 and we were monitoring his activities since 2013. I set up a special unit within the TID to monitor extremism. However, I cannot reveal details about the unit before the media,” Silva said.

“My team was able to find out that Zahran maintained two facebook accounts and two websites. He was sharing information from ISIS and had various postings put out by ISIS,” he added.

DIG Silva said he informed Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) and the TRC to block the websites maintained by Zahran. However he was unable to state whether action was taken in this regard.

He further revealed that Zahran had links with several politicians but said he did not want to divulge details on that matter before the media.

“ I obtained an open warrant in July 2018 and also went on to get the Interpol to issue a blue notice on Zahran after I found out that he had left the country. We concluded that he had left the country as we could not find him anywhere in Sri Lanka. When a blue notice is issued by the Interpol they can look for him and then it is possible to issue a red notice when the country he is hiding is uncovered. However, it was not possible to get that far as I was arrested on October 25, 2018,” Silva explained.

“ I do not know whether investigations on Zahran was stopped after my arrest but absence clearly created a void where the probe was concerned,” he added.

Asked by the select committee members whether he passed the information he had uncovered to the Security Council meeting, he said it was done through TID director weekly. “A report on the activities we did was submitted to my Director and it was he who would have briefed the Security Council meeting,” he said in this regard.

DIG Silva also revealed some information confidentially. Media was asked to leave the room at this moment. Among the information he wanted to confidentially were the details on the order given to TID to halt an inquiry it was conducting on a certain person who had links with Al Queda.