I read with interest the article published by Dr. Laksiri Fernando concerning the CID investigations into the allegations made by Fr. Cyril Gamini. Dr. Fernando professes that his article consists of an independent opinion, albeit known to Fr Cyril Gamini (Fr.CG) since 1996. However, there are several conclusions and points of view expressed by Dr. Fernando in his article, which belies the claim of an independent opinion, and is demonstrably and palpably biased and prejudiced, especially towards the Law Enforcement Authorities.
The article commences with a claim of harassment – that Fr.CG had to undergo two days of questioning for “no valid reason”. If an individual claims to have knowledge of the mastermind of the Easter Bomb attack, and, in fact, insinuates that the Head of State Intelligence was hand in glove with a terrorist, is that not a valid reason for the CID to question the accuser, at length, and give all opportunity and ample time to produce such evidence? The allegations of Fr CG, made a few years after the Easter Bombing (2019) and at a public forum, and not to the relevant law enforcement authorities investigating the matter, is, indeed, a serious issue affecting the National Security of the Country.
The allegation is directly contradictory to the contents in Zahran Hashim’s video recording aired on Swarnavahini and presented before the PCoI, where the authenticity of the same had been confirmed by the Government Analyst Department. In the said video, Zahran Hashim refers disparagingly to the state intelligence officers, calls them “dogs’ ‘ trying to destroy the cause and proudly declares their missions have no help from non-believers, which is polar opposite to the stance of Fr CG. Furthermore, such allegation is made by Fr CG in a background where over 350 intelligence reports had been issued during the period 2015-2019 to “the powers that be” by the State Intelligence Officers, citing the names of most of the suicide bombers, including Zahran Hashim, and their possible modus operendi (Vide: Dr. Rohan Gunaratne’s television interview where the Zahran Hashim video was aired in full as well as PCoI records). Such conduct certainly does not appear to be the actions of persons acting in concert with terrorists. Therefore, isn’t the CID justified to question Fr CG on what evidence he possesses to insinuate that the State Intelligence Authorities were hand in glove with Zahran Hashim, and which divine power gave him knowledge about the alleged mastermind?
If Fr CG is evasive in his disclosures, is the CID not entitled to question him repeatedly on this most vital issue? We have seen in the past, many ministers, ex- ministers, ordinary citizens, public officials being summoned to the CID (and even the illegal FCID) and being questioned for well over two days on various issues. This is nothing unusual in an ongoing investigation, not only in Sri Lanka, but in parallel law enforcement procedures worldwide. If Fr. CG is genuine about assisting the investigations into the Easter Bombing, he should be more than happy that the CID is meticulously questioning him on all aspects of the issue. Instead, he is now attempting to vilify the CID, and claiming that he is being questioned unnecessarily. Can he decide what is necessary and unnecessary And, what superior knowledge does Dr. Fernando have, to pen his article on the firm belief that Fr.CG had been subject to undue inquisition? Was he present at the CID, observing the manner of questioning?
What is truly shocking is that Dr. Fernando has unequivocally asserted that Major General Suresh Salley, as the Head of SIS, is apparently exerting undue influence, regarding these cases, on the CID. On what basis is such a serious allegation made against the Head of SIS? Dr. Fernando fails to support his declaration with an iota of proof. Surely, as a professional, he knows better than to make loose cannon statements for public consumption? He blatantly faults Major General Suresh Salley for instigating the CID to harass Fr. CG! As a member of the public, I feel the contrary is true! Major General Salley is unnecessarily harassed and defamed by not only Fr CG but by the Dr. Fernando himself, who has obviously written this article whilst on cuckoo land!
Dr. Fernando has then focused his attention to what he considers as the “mysteries” in this entire saga. In writing the mystery series, Dr. Fernando appears to have closed his eyes to the facts already well documented and on record, both at the PCoI and Zahran Hashim’s own video, where much of the motive for the bombing and the manner of execution is lucidly explained.
Dr. Fernando claims to be puzzled why churches and hotels were targeted and states that there is no nexus as Muslims and Christians lived in harmony! Well one only has to listen to Zahran Hashim himself for the mystery to be unveiled, as he firmly cites the famous New Zealand massacre of Muslims inside their place of worship – the Mosque – as the reason why churches were targeted. As to why the hotels were targeted, that, too, is explained by Zahran Hashim himself. If Dr. Fernando cares to recollect, all Five Star Hotels in Sri Lanka were full to capacity with tourists during that period, and on this particular Sunday most hotels held Easter Celebrations. Zahran, in his video, demands from his comrades not to let the foreigners “get away” and to remember what Allah said about non-believers …. He declares that the foreigners have killed “their people” and are now in Sri Lanka holidaying. He claims that these foreigners are the people who abused Allah, wrote the name of Allah on the backs of pigs and called Allah a Neuter. Surprisingly, when penning this all-important article for public consumption, Dr. Fernando appears to have no clue of this video aired on TV, presented to PCoI and accessible to us, the ordinary public. Did the Dr. Fernando at least file an RTI application and seek this information, before writing his mystery series and creating unrest in the mind of the general public!
Dr. Fernando then claims that the security organisations had been doing nothing since 2014 whilst these terrorist organisations were operating freely. Sir, how then do you explain the 350 odd reports, prepared during 2015 -2019, and sent to the Head of the State, the Prime Minister and the Police? No one can deny the existence of these reports clearly identifying the culprits, as the reports were dispatched and found in the offices of the relevant authorities. Most were presented before the various commissions. Does Dr. Fernando think these reports were written magically, with the waving of a wand by a fairy godmother, whilst the state intelligence agencies slept? Where is the ‘apathy’ and ‘indifference’, which Dr. Fernando speaks of relating to the state intelligence? Does he understand the role of an intelligence service in the first place? Their role is information gathering and submitting the same to the relevant authorities for action. In what manner had they shirked their responsibilities, when over 350 reports identifying correctly the culprits and the possible threats, have been sent to the relevant authorities? The PCoI recommendations, which Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith himself demanded implementation, had not faulted the State Intelligence Services. They fault those responsible for enforcing security measures. But now we have a “Dr. Fernando” in his wisdom blaming the blameless.
I find humour in Dr. Fernando’s observation that the security apparatus has failed to act on “the early warnings”, when the earliest and consistent warnings have been given by none other than the Military Intelligence and State Intelligence Services! Need I say more? He faults Major General Suresh Salley for lodging a complaint at the CID about the potential threats he may receive to his life and that of his family. Is it hisposition that holders of government office or the members of the law enforcement authorities cannot resort to the grievance procedures and protection of the law enforcement agencies that are available to all citizens of the country? Don’t or shouldn’t the State Intelligence Officers enjoy equal rights or the equal protection of the law?
Dr. Fernando proceeds to extol the virtues of Fr CG and states he had every right to express his views. But dear sir, it is not only “views’ ‘ he expressed! He claimed to know the identity of the “Mahamolakaraya” of the Easter Bombing, and insinuates Major General Suresh Salley having a clandestine association with him to the detriment of the nation! Surely, Dr. Fernando knows the difference between opinion and views that are based on true facts, as opposed to slander, mischief, or inciting the public by false rumours?
Finally, Dr. Fernando states he is not clear in what context Major General Suresh Salley’s name is mentioned by Fr. CG. This means that Dr. Fernando had not even listened to Fr. CG’s interview, prior to donning his garb as the gallant knight ready to defend the so-called victim!
Dr. Fernando and Fr.CG appear to be two peas in a pod!