The President Failed To Prevent The Easter Attacks

And his cover-up puts us all at risk

As the reports from the Parliamentary Select Committee are coming out, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the Easter Sunday Attacks were preventable and all of those innocent lives could have been saved. This is so, so heartbreaking. Our small island nation has been personally, economically and socially devastated by these attacks, and they were preventable.

Systemic Failure

What could have prevented the attacks was if the President (and Minister of Defence, and Law And Order; same person) had:

  1. Held regular National Security Council meetings
  2. Not excluded relevant people, like the Prime Minister, Inspector General of Police (IGP), etc
  3. Accepted and acted on regular intelligence briefings from the IGP and Defence Secretary

The President, serving as the Minister of Defence and Law and Order is responsible for these grievous process failures, which had the following result:

That is, there was a credible warning the night before and just before the bomb blasts — while the President was asleep at the wheel. This is just horrifying.

People as high as the IGP and SIS director knew something was coming but in the absence of leadership, in fact due to a leadership that actively stifled action, they just stood aside and watched as the bombs went off. There were failures all around, but in this case the buck stops with the lokka in charge. The person that could have declared Emergency, the only person who seemed able to take action in the dysfunctional org chart he’d created.

As the bombs went off, this lokka was blissfully shopping in Singapore. Even after the bomb blasts, the President still prevented the National Security Council from meeting. He then waited and took only the third flight back.

Years Of Neglect

However, the culpability of this President goes even further.

  • The lead bomber had an arrest warrant open since August 10 of last year. The search for him, however, dissapated after the President arrested the DIG investigating the suicide bombers, Nalaka Silva, for what seems to have been a completely made up assassination attempt rumor. I’ll repeat that, the President arrested the guy who was trying to find the bombers. Not the bombers. They guy trying to find the bombers. Oh God.
  • On April 8, 2018 The State Intelligence Service (which seemed to be the one arm that had a line open to the President) requested that:

The Terrorism Investigation Department (TID) suspend all investigations into extremist Muslim factions associated with known international terrorist organisations operating within the country. The IGP states the SIS letter had asked for the TID investigations to be suspended, “as such investigations caused prejudice to the secret investigations being carried out by the SIS.” (Sunday Times)

  • The President then had the SIS report directly and privately to him, not at National Security Council meetings, meaning that information was not willfully shared with the people that could have done something.

If it wasn’t all so tragic and stupid it would look like a conspiracy to protect the bombers, that’s how deep and systemic the negligence of the National Security System was.

The Cover-Up

I wouldn’t think it possible, but even in the face of the terrible losses of Easter Sunday, the President has found a way to make the cover-up even worse, at least in terms of the long-term stability of our country. Let’s take the immediate and relatively minor crimes.

  • He prevented the National Security Council from meeting on the day of the attacks
  • He offered a bribe of an Ambassadorship for the IGP to take the fall
  • He cut the live feed of the PSC meeting from PEO TV (which his brother controls, via the state institution SLT) and seems to have prevented further live broadcasting/streaming of the sittings.

Then there is the major crime. In the face of his mounting incompetence, the President seems to have decided to throw the entire Muslim population under the bus. He has put millions of our friends and fellow citizens at risk, through both inaction and action.

  • When rioters ran free in the north-west, the President was conveniently out of the country, made no statement and the General Secretary of his party went to bail rioters. These riots were a terrorist attack against the Muslim population directly but also against the country as a whole.
  • The President released the main riot organizer from prison. Galagoda Gnanasera (I won’t call him a Thera) then proceeded to call for ‘pandemonium’, prompting all Muslim Ministers in the government to resign to protect their community.
  • There is nothing to directly connect him, but the President benefits from the unsubstantiated and highly unlikely claims that a Muslim doctor sterilized 4,000 women. As the PSC meeting was going on, the SMS and other news was about this fake news story and not the real, relevant news that the President had failed to prevent the attacks.

The broader and generational risk here is that the racist, anti-Muslim sentiment he has been cultivating has the potential to throw the country into generations of suffering, not to mention the immediate humiliation, injustice and danger that Muslims now have to live with every day.

Because the President cannot take responsibility and entire community and nation have been put at risk. It is shocking and so terribly sad. I cannot stress this enough. His negligence resulted in hundreds of death. His cover-up has put millions at risk.

So What

In the face of these deep systemic failures and the fact that the the system is still failing, I think the President should resign. I think the Prime Minister should also resign and let the Speaker of the House, Karu Jayasuriya, preside over a caretaker government until elections in December. Unless they can be held sooner.

This has been a catastrophic failure that has put our country in danger. It is an ongoing failure that continues to put communities and the whole country at further risk. President Maithripala Sirisena cannot continue in office. He proved himself a threat to our democratic institutions with his failed October Coup, and he has failed to protect our National Security in April. He is failing to preserve communal harmony right now.

The President is a threat to the safety of every Sri Lankan right now. Either through resignation or impeachment, he has to go.

Written by

A writer living in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He/him. Videos: and podcast:

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