‘These Attacks Could Target Catholic Churches’: The Warning That Sri Lankan Officials Failed to Heed - The New York Times

Asia Pacific | ‘These Attacks Could Target Catholic Churches’: The Warning That Sri Lankan Officials Failed to Heed

Ten days before devastating bombings on Easter Sunday, a top Sri Lankan police official warned the security services in an advisory that a little-known radical Islamist group was planning suicide attacks against churches. Top government officials say the warning never reached them, and no action was taken against the group.

On Monday, the government blamed the group, National Thowheeth Jama’ath, for the attacks, saying it received help from unspecified international terrorist organizations.

Here is a translation of the cover letter and summary of the advisory. In several cases, The Times has redacted an address or phone number from the translation.

Image The cover page of the advisory.

April 11, 2019
From DIG Special Security Range
Sent to: Ministerial Security Division
Diplomatic Security Division
Judicial Security Division
Security Divisions of Retired Presidents


1. This refers to the letter from the Ministry of Defense to the Inspector General of Police and further refers to the memo dated 2019.04.09 by the IGP with reference number STAFF05/IGP/PS/OUT/2860/19.

2. You are hereby instructed to pay particular attention to the reference made in Page 2-4 of the above under title National Thawhith Jamaan concerning a possible suicide attack being planned in this country by Mohammed Zaharan, leader of the National “Thawhith Jamaan.”

3. You should instruct all personnel to pay strict heed to this report and be extra vigilant and cautious of the top officials and residences coming under your purview.


Priyalal Dassanayake
Deputy Inspector General of Police
Special Protection Range,
Colombo 02