No Muslim politicos linked to terrorist organisations, says Governor Hizbullah | Sunday Observer

No Muslim politicos linked to terrorist organisations, says Governor Hizbullah

Dismissing allegations in the media that some Muslim politicians have fostered and promoted Islamist fanaticism in the country, Eastern Province Governor M.L.A.M. Hizbullah said if there is evidence that any Muslim politician is suspected of having connections with the National Thawheed Jamaath (NTJ), it should be brought to the notice of the law enforcement authorities without making baseless allegations. In an interview with the Sunday Observer, Governor Hizbullah said that he is sure that no Muslim politician has any connections with the NTJ.

Q: Could you explain as to why Sri Lanka was handpicked to unleash terror by the ISIS?

A: Normally, the ISIS targets Islamic countries. For example, they were in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen. They went to non-Islamic countries for special terror attacks.

We eased everything, including the security of the politicians and the public. In hotels, they didn’t check even a small bag. The ISIS must have chosen that opportunity. The ISIS is in a state of disarray. They have been defeated in Syria and Yemen. They wanted to show the world that they have launched a massive attack somewhere. According to information, Easter Sunday attacks were the third biggest attack of the ISIS. They wanted to show the world that they are powerful. They cannot launch such attacks in Arab countries or Western countries as they have tight security. They must have seen the situation in Sri Lanka to launch a terrorist attack.

Q: Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith was emphatic that all those Muslim politicians alleged to have connections with the National Thawheed Jamaath (NTJ) and similar organisations should be taken into custody for investigation. What have you got to say about this?

A: I respect Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith. His first speech after the disaster was wonderful, but I don’t know as to why he made this kind of speech suddenly. If anyone has evidence on any Muslim politician, he should produce it without making false allegations. But I am sure no Muslim politician has connection with this terrorist group - NTJ.

TNA Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran said in Parliament that I have connections with the NTJ. If he has such information, he should give it to the CID. If any Muslim politician has supported the NTJ, such information should be given to the CID. They make allegations against me using one photograph. As politicians, we have to meet everybody. I have met that the person they have mentioned only once during the last Parliamentary election, but he worked against me. When I was elected MP from the National List, he demanded to remove me.

Q: The security forces have discovered bullets, military uniforms, swards and so many lethal weapons and dozens of suspects have been taken to custody. As the Eastern Province Governor and experienced politician, have you not received any intelligence report or any suspicious circumstance on terror activities?

A: No. We didn’t get any intelligence reports. It is not only me, even the President and the Prime Minister said that they were not aware of anything about those attacks. The authorities should have submitted intelligence reports to the President and the Prime Minister before me. This Saharan Hashim and his members are an extremist group. There were many complaints against that person, but no action was taken against him. In 2017, he attacked some of my supporters and hacked them, but the Police didn’t arrest the culprits. My supporters staged a street protest in March, 2017 demanding to ban the NTJ and arrest Saharan.

Q: Allegations in the media after the Easter Sunday attacks are that some Muslim politicians have fostered and promoted Islamist fanaticism in the country. Your views?

A: They have to say this with valid reason and evidence. I deny this allegation. If anyone makes such an allegation, he should prove it with evidence.

Q: The National University Teachers’ Association has charged that the proposed Batticaloa University is meant to produce Islamist fanatics to destabilise the South and South East Asian region. Your comment?

A: Everything that was uttered by the Association is a diabolical lie. UNP MP Prof. Ashu Marasinghe explained everything and said the university will be supervised by our professors. We have not yet started this university. How can we start a university without permission? This is not a university but a higher education institute.

We have applied to set up this institute, but it is still under discussion. If we want to start a private university or a higher education institute, we have to submit all the details along with Rs. one million to study the report. Even if we want to teach Sharia, we should prepare the syllabus and give it to the Higher Education Ministry for approval. We have never given any such proposal to teach Sharia. So this allegation is nonsense. This is a common university, and any student can pay and study in it. Our Vice Chancellor is a Sinhala Buddhist professor, and the Heads of the IT and Engineering Divisions are also Buddhists.

Q: Do you believe that the swords in their bulk have been imported to clear the cemeteries as claimed by the Muslim Affairs Minister or for a sinister purpose?

A: In the modern era, can we imagine the ISIS will use a small weapon like a sword for their terrorist activities? The ISIS is not an ordinary movement; it is an international terrorist organisation. They use modern weapons and suicide bombers.

After the Haj festival, we give the Kuruban at every Masjid where cows are slaughtered and given to the poor. In Colombo and other Sinhala areas, Muslims cannot slaughter cows or goats in their houses. They give all the cows to the Masjid. Sometimes, Kollupitiya and Bambalapitiya Masjids get about 100 cows. All rich people give their cows to the Masjid. Therefore, Masjids need these swords.

Q: As a senior politician, what would you propose to eradicate the NTJ and similar bodies?

A: We should have a plan to eradicate the NTJ and similar organisations systematically. The Muslims all over the country support to eradicate this menace. It is Muslims who give information to the Police and the security forces because they want to eradicate this NTJ menace soon. We should get together to ward off this threat.

Q: The LTTE wanted to divide the country, but for what ultimate purpose do these Muslim fanatical organisations resort to mass murders and carnage?

A: This is a good question. The LTTE wanted something, but the Muslims are not asking for even a Grama Niladari division. We can live in any area and that is not a problem. We are not asking any right as well. There were some attacks against the Muslims in places such as Alutgama and Digana, including some mosques. Muslims were affected due to those attacks.

Generally, all Muslims believe they want to live a good life so that they can go to heaven after death. But the youths in these extremist Muslim organisations such as the NTJ have been brainwashed by the ISIS so that they can believe “if you fight for Muslims and kill or commit suicide, you will go to heaven straightaway.” This is not the truth. You cannot kill not only people but also animals. Allah permitted to kill animals only for food.

Q: What is your view about the ban of Burka and preaching extremist and radical ideas, especially by foreign clerics?

A: Generally, we agree to ban Burka. We have to be watchful about foreigners who teach in various institutes. If they may teach English, how can you stop it? Likewise, we should look at broader perspectives. We must take care of national security and national unity.

Q: There was news that 48 T 56 bullets had been detected from your Kattankudy office. Could you explain?

A: The Security Forces had not detected 48 T 56 bullets from my office. That was found from the Police post behind my land, which provides security to me. It belongs to the Police and not to me.

Q: Is there any need to have a new Counter Terrorism Act when there is the PTA of 1979 which can deal with any terrorist activity?

A: We have the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). If there is a need to have a new law, that is not a problem. We can deal with any situation under the PTA.

Q: Do you justify political parties based on religion or race?

A: It is better to do away with them. Of course, there is no harm in having a party for a community to voice their needs. Sometimes, you cannot have your voice in major parties. For example, the Muslims in the East cannot raise their voice within the UNP. So they need to have their own party. That is not a problem.