It was revealed before the Presidential Commission to Inquiry (PCoI) probing the Easter Sunday terror attacks yesterday that Zahran Hashim and his group had planned to launch an attack using 20 suicide bombers.
This was revealed in the testimony given by a Sub Inspector attached to the Police Terrorism Investigation Division before the Commission.
Testifying further he said that investigations have revealed that the proposal of launching an attack using 20 suicide bombers was made during a discussion held on March 27, 2019 at a house in Sarikkammulla area in Panadura with the participants of seven persons including Zahran Hashim. He said it was revealed that the second attack was aimed at people trying to escape after the first attack and then another attack was planned on the hospitalization of the injured.
“During the meeting they also decided to select a foreign dominated area in Nuwara Eliya and look into the background for another attack there and Zahran Hashim had told his followers that there should be a suicide bombing in retaliation for the attacks on Muslims in New Zealand and the attacks on ISIS in Syria,” he said.
“Investigations have revealed that the attack had targeted of Catholic Churches, Casinos and tourist hotels frequented by foreigners and Zaharan and others had also taken an oath in connection with the suicide bombs during the meeting,” he said.
He further said that the investigations also revealed that it had been suggested that the attacks should be carried out within 15 days from March 27, 2019 as the bombs assembled by Zahrans’s brother Rilwan were to expire during that period.
Accordingly, Zaharan has said that the attack should carried out within 15 days and that it was not specifically suggested that the attack should be carried out on April 21 targeting Easter Sunday and steps will be taken to inform the suicide bombers within three days before the attacks. However, the date has been already fixed by the Zahran for the attack to be carried out on April 21 on Easter Sunday.
During the meeting Alauddin Ahmed Muaz who detonated the bomb at the St. Anthony’s Shrine said that he would take responsibility for detonating the bomb as the Shrine was located close to his house. Zahran had run a team of four spies and their main duties was spying on Colombo city police stations, the Naval headquarters, searching for information on two Islamists who head left Zaharan’s group and were ordered to be killed by him and searching for safe houses, the Sub Inspector further said in testimony before the Commission.
Meanwhile, the 5 member Commission ordered to record further testimony of the Sub Inspector without the presence of the Media.