Colombo (News 1st); The Police Special Task Force gave priority for the prevention of Organized Crimes and Narcotic rackets after it was placed via Gazette under the STF in 2017, said Former Commandant of the Police Special Task Force Retired Senior DIG M.R Latheef.
Testifying on Saturday (10) at the Presidential Commission of Inquiry probing April 21st 2019 Attacks the Retired SDIG made the above statement when the commission questioned as to why the Police Special Task Force failed to act on Islamic extremism in the Eastern province even though Muslims in the area had strong trust with the STF since the 1980’s.
The witness added, during his tenure the Police Special Task Force had been specifically instructed to prioritize maintaining public peace and harmony , environmental policing alongside organized crimes and narcotic rackets rather than investigating extremist activities.
” If a representative from the Police Special Task Force or myself as the Commandant was given the opportunity to attend the National Security Council or Weekly Intelligence Review Meetings we would have been able to focus more attention on Islamic extremism”, M.R Latheef said.
The former Commandant of the STF further added, an enormous amount of information flooded after the 04/21 attacks however, even to date he is puzzled as to why the State Intelligence Service did not pass on intelligence to the Intelligence unit of the Police Special Task Force prior to the bombings.
During the testimony the Commissioners questioned Latiff as to why the Police Special Task Force and the State Intelligence Service (SIS) were unable to work hand in hand.
Replying to the query the Former Commandant said he is willing to provide the answer without the presence of the media ( in-camera).
Earlier during the day (10) Former IGP Pujith Jayasundara testifying at the PCoI said the Chief of National Intelligence is responsible to
co-ordinate all intelligence information.
Further in his testimony Jayasundara stated, it is thanks to the Current President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Defence Secretary Kamal Gunaratne that he is able to carry out his activities at present.
Former President Maithripala Sirisena and former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe are set to testify at the Presidential Commission of Inquiry probing April 21st 2019 Attacks on the 12th and 13th of October respectively.