No warnings were given to church authorities or the hotels or foreign embassies
'The security services and police force in Sri Lanka had extensive knowledge about a plot to carry out attacks on churches, according to a number of international intelligence officials, before the Easter massacre claiming more than 300 lives.
The detailed information, including names and addresses of suspects, was instrumental in carrying out over 40 arrests in the past few days, with more than two dozen picked up in the immediate aftermath of the attacks. But the apparent failure of authorities to act before the suicide bombers struck – in three churches and three hotels – is likely to be a key issue in the investigation announced by the Sri Lankan government.
The Indian foreign intelligence service Raw (Research and Analysis Wing) passed on a warning about the threat of attack to churches and the Indian High Commission in Colombo in the first week of April, say Indian, Sri Lankan and western sources, and the severity of the threat was reiterated to the Sri Lankans separately by US intelligence officials. Sri Lankan security also had information, it is reported, that Islamist groups were seeking and acquiring bomb-making equipment in January, and a number of searches were subsequently carried out.
A weapons cache, including explosives and detonators, was reportedly discovered in the north of the country. According to officials, it was initially thought the weaponry belonged to Tamil separatists trying to establish themselves but it quickly became clear that extremist Islamists had ownership.
On Monday Sri Lankan police raided a bus station in Colombo and announced that 87 bomb detonators had been found. According to officials, the location was one already under observation by security forces, although there is no independent confirmation of this.
The Indian domestic security service, the Intelligence Bureau, had been monitoring the activities of a relatively newly formed group, National Thowheed Jamath, in Sri Lanka and its links with a south Indian extremist group, the Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamath.
The National Thowheed Jamath is believed to have been formed three years ago as a reaction to clashes between Buddhists, who make up 70 per cent of the population, and the Muslim community, which comprises 10 per cent.
The whereabouts of the group’s leader, Mohammad Zaharan, remains unclear: he is, however, known to have lived in India in the past and may have moved back to Sri Lanka.
Isis has claimed credit for the killings, as it routinely does after Islamist terrorist attacks, but there is no evidence to support this at the moment.'
Read more: Sri Lanka bombings: Security services had extensive knowledge about deadly attacks, intelligence officials say