In A first, Sri Lanka Appoints Military Officer As Spy Chief

Colombo: For the first time in Sri Lanka’s history, a military officer has been appointed as the chief of the country’s top intelligence agency, which was blamed for failing to prevent the devastating Easter terror attack that killed more than 250 people in April.

Brigadier Suresh Sallay, the former director of the Military Intelligence, has been appointed as the chief of the State Intelligence Service (SIS) – the country’s premier spy agency, News First reported.

It is the first time in Sri Lankan history that a military officer had been appointed as the SIS chief, it added.

His appointment comes three weeks after former defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa was elected president promising better security.

Rajapaksa is credited with helping end the island nation’s three-decades-long civil war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) during his tenure as the defence secretary. In 2006, he survived an assassination attempt carried out by the LTTE with minor injuries.

Brigadier Sallay’s predecessor Nilantha Jayawardana was attached to the Police Headquarters.

Jayawardana has been accused by island’s suspended police chief Pujith Jayasundara of not taking seriously the intelligence shared by India, which warned of an impending attack by an extremist group.

In June, Jayasundara filed a petition in the Supreme Court against his “unfair dismissal” over the catastrophic intelligence failure and accused then President Maithripala Sirisena of failing to prevent the Easter bombings.

Jayasundara said despite the SIS not sharing information warnings with the police department, he had initiated action to alert his senior men, but he had no input from the main spy agency.

More than 250 people were killed in eight coordinated suicide bomb attacks carried out by a local Jihadi group on April 21.

Two days after the attacks, Jayasundara claimed that Sirisena asked him to take the responsibility for the failure to prevent the bombings and step down in exchange for a diplomatic posting.

However, he refused to do so following which Sirisena sacked him “illegally”

A parliamentary select committee, appointed to probe the events leading to the bombings, said that intelligence information related to the attacks was first received by the Director, SIS on April 4 but there were delays from his end to share it with the relevant intelligence and security personnel.

(PTI)