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Intelligence service is not weakened, Defense Secretary asserts

Published May 30, 2019
Updated Apr 15, 2020

The Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) appointed to inquire into the terrorist attacks on April 21 met for the first time today at the parliament complex. As a first, the session was open to the media.

The eight-member Select Committee is being chaired by Deputy Speaker, Ananda Kumarasiri but since he was overseas member of the PSC parliamentarian Jayampathy Wickramaratne was the Chairman for today’s session.

Minister Rajitha Senaratne and Parliamentarian MA Sumanthiran, who are also members of the PSC, did not participate in the Select Committee today as they are also overseas.

However, other members Ministers Ravi Karunanayake and Rauff Hakeem, MPs Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, Nalinda Jayathissa and Prof. Ashu Marasinghe were present.

Defense Secretary General Shantha Kottegoda and Chief of State Intelligence Service Sisira Mendis gave evidence before the PSC today.

During the session, the members of the committee extensively questioned the Defense Secretary to General Shantha Kottegoda on the intelligence services and the terrorism threat.

Defense Secretary explaining the process of the National Security Council and activities of the National Intelligence Units said the entire State intelligence service is not weakened by the arrests of few intelligence officers as alleged.

He explained that the first intelligence information pertaining to the existence of extremist groups in Sri Lanka was revealed in 2014 and if action had been taken, the April 21 attack could have been averted.

He said although intelligence information was revealed early on the extremist organizations and relevant parties had been informed, they were not banned. If they had been banned it could have prevented the situation from rising to this magnitude.

When asked whether he is satisfied with the current security situation in the country and whether the state is ready to ensure no such events will happen in the future, the Defense Secretary said as an immediate solution, the threat has been neutralized 99 percent but it is not a problem that can be eliminated within a month or two.

“This is just a short-term solution. We need to have long-term solutions. That includes border security and other measures. Not only the Defense Ministry, but other ministries will also have to jointly work together for a long-term solution.”

The Defense Secretary stressed that current Intelligence Units are not weakened, however added that Intelligence Units can be further developed and strengthened.