External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris today briefed the Colombo based diplomatic community regarding the action taken by the Sri Lankan government against groups and individuals involved in terrorist funding and other activity connected with plans to revive terrorism. The Minister said that the government’s action in designating 16 groups and 424 individuals had been taken under United Nations Security Council Regulation1373 which not only empowered governments to resort to such measures but imposed on States an imperative duty to effectively suppress terrorist funding.
Regulations had been framed for this purpose under Sri Lankan legislation, and timely action has been taken on the basis of these Regulations, he said.
The Minister has conducted the briefing with the assistance of Chief of National intelligence Major General Kapila Hendawitharana, representing the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development.
“The principal purpose of the briefing was to give the diplomatic community authentic information regarding action taken by the government against groups and individuals involved in terrorist funding and other activity connected with plans to revive terrorism,” the ministry statement said.
It also stated:
Prof. Peiris told the diplomatic community that there is compelling evidence regarding the remittance of substantial sums of money from overseas for planned terrorist activity. As a result of extensive investigations in recent weeks, the government is aware of the sources of this funding in several instances and the bank accounts into which the money had been paid. 65 arrests have been made, and 19 persons have been released after questioning.
A wealth of information, including documentary evidence and primary evidence of communications between the parties concerned, is now at the disposal of the government, the Minister said. The emerging picture indicates activity by several networks, including links between activists operating from broad and recipients of funds within Sri Lanka. Weapons, documents and other material have been found in consequence of information elicited during questioning. From the material available, it is clear that the funds sent are intended to be used for military, intelligence and propaganda purposes, with groups of persons and others operating under their direction assigned responsibility in respect of each of these areas. While the investigations are continuing, and further information is coming to light regarding the identity and role of other participants, the elaborate nature of the preparations revealed by the evidence already obtained, leaves no room for doubt that an intricate planning apparatus is sought to be established, Prof. Peiris added.
The government’s foremost duty, the Minister emphasized, is to exercise the greatest vigilance and to nip in the bud attempts at resurgence of any form of terrorist activity. A country that has suffered anguish and pain inflicted by terrorism for three decades, expects no less from its government, he added. The Minister observed that timely and decisive action has been effective in warding off any threat of growing activity, and the government will continue to watch the situation closely and not hesitate to adopt such further measures as may be required. An encouraging feature of the situation, he explained, is the considerable quantity of information emanating from people of the relevant areas, eager to prevent the disruption of their lives which they are now engaged in rebuilding.
Prof. Peiris drew attention to the attempt in some quarters to paint a picture of a threat to tourism and investment. The Minister characterized these attempts as entirely unwarranted and mischievous. The government is in total control of the situation, and has every confidence of eradicating at the very inception, any attempt to revive terrorism in any form in any part of the country, he commented.
The Minister pointed out that the benefits flowing from the eradication of terrorism in Sri Lanka are by no means confined to the country, but accrue to the entire South Asian region. He mentioned, in particular, Sri Lanka’s significant contribution to maintaining the safety of sea lanes in the area and the control of a wide range of illegal activity including people smugglingand the proliferation of small arms.
He underlined the importance of pre-emptive action to deal with the kinds of activity he had described, and requested all nations represented at the briefing to extend their fullest co-operation in preventing the inflow of funds for terrorist purposes and forestalling all forms of activity which these resources are intended to support.