Targeting the LTTE’s Global Network
By Ajit Kumar Singh, SAIR 21/4/08
Apr 22, 2008 - 11:15:12 AM
Australia, the United Kingdom (UK), Canada, France and the
United States (US), which account for the major chunk of the roughly 750,000
strong Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora, and from where the outfit accrues its
greatest financial and propaganda support, have taken stern action against LTTE
proxies, severely affecting the Tigers capacities in their ‘final war of
which opened its first overseas office in London in 1984, has its front
organizations now operating from countries that also include India, Botswana,
Burma, Cambodia, Denmark, Germany, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Qatar, South
Africa, Switzerland and Thailand, to name a few.
The Washington Times,
on April 7, 2008 reported that the LTTE’s political wing had established its
branches in at least 12 countries, including the US. Veerakathy Manivannam
Castro is the Head of the LTTE’s ‘International Secretariat’, the body which
ensures the smooth functioning of the group’s global network.
global activities can broadly be summarized into three principal categories:
fundraising; arms procurement and shipping, and publicity and propaganda.
Though each of these tasks invariably overlaps, there is a significant autonomy
of operation in each.
has created front organizations in about 50 countries across the globe, and
most significant among these organizations include the Australasian Federation
of Tamil Associations; the Swiss Federation of Tamil Associations; the French
Federation of Tamil Associations; the Federation of Associations of Canadian
Tamils; the Illankai Tamil Sangam in the US; the Tamil Co-ordinating Committee
in Norway and the International Federation of Tamils in the UK. These fronts
also form sympathetic pressure groups and media units to harness political and
economic support for the outfit from the politicians and human rights activists
in the respective countries. They bring out or operate numerous magazines,
radio and TV stations; carry out public demonstrations, display LTTE flags and
emblems as well as photographs of its leader Velupillai Prabhakaran and other
leaders, sell and distribute literature glorifying the LTTE struggle and
suicide attacks, and engage in publicity and propaganda among Tamil Diaspora to
harness support and contributions.
the LTTE came under tremendous pressure at home, pro-LTTE Tamil groups in
Britain launched a campaign to highlight the ‘suffering’ of Tamils in Sri
Lanka, with a protest outside Downing Street on February 24, 2008. Earlier, on
January 16, Britain’s leading Tamil organisation, the British Tamils Forum,
called for a boycott of Sri Lankan Airlines in a move to target the Sri Lankan
economy, as part of their campaign for a separate Tamil homeland. On January 1,
a calendar apparently depicting the logo of the LTTE and the map of a separate
state of ‘Tamil Eelam’ was sold outside Hindu temples in London. According to
an August 22, 2007, report, Tamil broadcasters in Australia glorify the LTTE
and its chief, Velupillai Prabhakaran, and also engage in fundraising.
has secured the support of several non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
working in these countries through its persistent publicity and propaganda
campaigns. Prominent NGOs who have extended support include the Canadian Relief
Organization for Peace in Sri Lanka, International Educational Development
Inc., the World Council of Churches, the Australian Human Rights Foundation,
the International Human Rights Group, the International Federation of
Journalists (Pax Romana), the International Peace Bureau, the International
Human Rights Law Group and the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human
activities are, of course, subordinate to the principal objective of the
‘International Secretariat’: to generate maximum financial resources to support
the LTTE’s ‘final war’ in Sri Lanka. The LTTE is estimated to harvest between
an estimated USD 10 million to USD 30 million a month through organizations such
as the Federation of Associations of Canadian Tamils, Human Rights for Tamils,
Melrose Publishers, the Tamil Center for Human Rights, the Tamil Coordinating
Committee (TCC), the Tamil Eelam Economic Development Organization, the Tamil
Relief Organisation (TRO), the Tamil Youth Organisation (TYO), the United Tamil
Organization, the White Pigeon, the World Tamil Movement (WTO), and the World
Tamil Association (WTA), to name a few of the fronts engaged in these tasks.
organization collects funds from individuals and business; by managing Hindu
Temples principally serving Tamil Diaspora communities; engaging in businesses
including the internet, community-based Tamil radio stations and subscription
satellite TV, drug pedalling, particularly heroin from Southeast and Southwest
Asia, shipping lines, travel agencies, human smuggling; as well as fixed income
generation methods, such as the ‘Registration’ of the Tamil Diaspora. According
to a May 6, 2007, report, the Armulmihu Hindu temple in Tooting in South
London, which reportedly raises nearly £500,000 each year, may have possible
links to the LTTE in Sri Lanka.
these global financial operations, the LTTE runs its arms network, headed by
aka Kumaran Pathmanathan
aka KP, which
acquire weaponry and munitions from countries like Afghanistan, Bulgaria,
Burma, Cambodia, China, Cyprus, Greece, Hong Kong, Lebanon, Nigeria, North
Korea, Pakistan, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.
KP has his main bases in Bangkok, Rangoon, Singapore and, more recently, in
Johannesburg, and is alleged to have held various bank accounts in Australia,
Frankfurt and London. According to the August 29, 2007, US Senate Foreign
Relations Committee Report the Government of Eritrea is providing direct
military assistance to the LTTE. There is cumulative corroborative evidence
confirming the fact that the arms network has spread across the globe.
also indicate that the Tigers receive military training in some of these countries
as well. One surprising source of such training was uncovered in August 2007,
when the Sri Lankan Government launched an investigation into claims that LTTE
cadres received ‘police’ training in the UK after the 2002 cease-fire agreement
(CFA). The probe was ordered after revelations by a 29 year old LTTE cadre,
Kalimuttu Vinodkumar, who was arrested at a Police roadblock in Trincomalee in
Sri Lanka, told interrogators that he was among 12 LTTE cadres sent on a
three-month training programme to Northern Ireland, shortly after the CFA was
signed. The course had been conducted by foreign instructors with the help of
years, the LTTE’s international support network has ensured that the Tigers
became the only terrorist organization with its own military – an army, navy
and air force – and clear control over a large swathe of land.
however, started to change after the declaration of the ‘war on terror’ in the
wake of the September 2001 incidents in the US, with international attitudes
hardening against the LTTE. Despite this, the 25-nation European Union only
banned the LTTE in May 2006. Earlier, Canada proscribed the outfit on April 10,
2006. India was the first country to ban the LTTE in 1992. The LTTE is also on
a list of proscribed terrorist organisations in the US, and is currently banned
in as many as 31 countries. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (United States)
went to the extent describing the organization as one of the most dangerous and
deadly extremist outfits in the world, as they had ‘inspired’ networks
worldwide, including the al-Qaeda in Iraq. Corroborating linkages with the al
Qaeda, a March 25, 2007, report indicated that the LTTE had supplied forged
passports to Ramzi Yousef, who bombed the World Trade Center. Earlier, on March
10, 2007, Falk Rovik, chief spokesperson of Norwegians Against Terrorism,
stated in Toronto that the LTTE had stolen hundreds of Norwegian passports and
sold them to al Qaeda to earn money. According to a July 7, 2007, report, the UK
declared the LTTE the ‘second most dangerous terrorist group’ in the world,
after al Qaeda.
the LTTE’s international networks have suffered major reverses in the recent
past, with many instances in which leaders/cadres of the LTTE or their front
organizations have arrested, sentenced to prison, or otherwise restrained, for
a variety of subversive activity across the world. Some of the major incidents,
in this context, include:
2008: Counterterrorism police in Quebec and Ontario in Canada reportedly shut
down the World Tamil Movement (WTM) office in Montreal, alleging that the
organization has been raising money to finance terrorist activities in Sri
10, 2008: A US District Court in Maryland sentenced, Thirunavukarasu
Varatharasa, a Sri Lankan resident in the US, to 57 months in prison and three
years of supervised release, for conspiracy to provide arms, ammunition and
other military materiel to the LTTE.
21, 2007: The Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s (RCMP’s) Senior Liaison Officer
for the Caribbean disclosed that more than 100 people, including key members of
the LTTE, were arrested in the Caribbean with fraudulent travel documents,
including Western passports forged with the aim of entering the US and Canada.
25, 2007: French Police arrested Ranjan, who was appointed by the Wanni LTTE to
take charge of LTTE activities in France after the arrest of Parithi
Mathienthiram, who was earlier in charge of operations in this country.
2007: Three top LTTE suspects, Sujit Gunapala, Sasiljaran Teverajah and
Satiepawan Arseawatap were deported to Sri Lanka. Gunapala, Teverajah and
Arseawatap were arrested from the Ranong province in Thailand on May 12, 2003,
with 10 Glock pistols and three HK Mark 23 pistols, and had remained under
detention in Thailand for attempting to smuggle weapons to Sri Lanka.
2007: Arunachalam Chrishanthakumar alias Shanthan, president of the British
Tamil Association, the high-ranking agent of the LTTE, and head of finance,
Goldan Lambert, were arrested by the British Police under the 2000 Terrorism
Act. Subsequently, on July 5, 2007, a British Court froze all bank accounts
belonging to Shanthan and wife, whose business ventures, as on July 2, 2007, amounted
to four billion pounds sterling.
2007: The Maldives Coast Guard opened fire on and sank a small vessel carrying
suspected LTTE cadres after a 12-hour standoff at sea in the southern
territorial waters of Maldives. The boat was carrying guns and mortar
2007: Australian Police arrested two suspected LTTE cadres, Aruran
Vinayagamoorthy (who had access to USD 5,26,000 in two bank accounts between
August 2001 and December 2005) and Sivarajah Yathavan, after raids in Sydney
2007: Six Sri Lankans, including the prime accused Satrubarajah Shanamugarajah
alias Ruby, connected to the LTTE, were convicted for organized crime in
Norway. More than Norwegian Kroner 5.3 million had reportedly been stolen in
Norway's largest credit card scam, with links to LTTE cells in Canada, England,
Germany and Sweden.
2007: The ‘director’ of the LTTE in New York, Karunakaran Kandasamy, was
arrested by the FBI in Queens, on charges of providing material support to a foreign
terrorist organization. A FBI raid on Kandasamy’s office in Queens revealed
evidence that he had raised millions of dollars for the Tamil Tigers through a
front organization called the World Tamil Coordinating Committee.
2007: The leader of the LTTE’s France branch since 2003, Nadarajah Mathinthiran
alias ‘Parathi’ and Thuraisamy Jeyamorthy alias ‘Jeya’, who are in charge of
fundraising in France, were among 17 LTTE suspects arrested. During 2006, the
LTTE reportedly collected more than Euro six million, forcing each Tamil family
to pay Euro 2000 per year and each Tamil shopkeeper Euro 6000 per year.
2007: Haji Subandi, an international arms dealer from Indonesia, pleaded guilty
in a federal court in Guam in USA to conspiring to export guns, surface-to-air
missiles and other military hardware to the LTTE.
2006: Indonesian police arrested 13 LTTE suspects during a raid in the southern
Java coast. The suspects were reportedly moving to Australia.
2006: 13 suspects with close links to the LTTE, including ‘Waterloo’ Suresh
Suresh Skandarajah, were arrested from Buffalo, New York, San Jose,
California, Seattle, Washington and Connecticut, following a RCMP and FBI probe
into allegations that LTTE sympathizers in North America tried to buy missiles
and move terror funds.
2006: Canadian Police raided the office of the WTM in Montreal, the first raid
after the Canadian Government proscribed the LTTE as a terrorist group, and
seized computers, files, LTTE flags and other political documents.
crackdown appears to be part of an international operation aimed at
neutralizing the LTTE’s operations worldwide. However, proscribing the LTTE has
tended to have only limited success, since the organisation simply sets up new
fronts that continue activities earlier carried out directly by LTTE offices,
or by other fronts that come afoul of the law. Thus, after the TRO was banned
in the UK, fund collection for the LTTE was undertaken by a charity named White
Pigeon. Similarly, when the Washington-based Intelsat Ltd. banned the National
Television of Tamil Eelam (NTT) the official television of the LTTE, on April
21-22, 2007, the LTTE started its Paris-based Tamil Television Network (TTN), a
pay television channel owned by Globecast, which was later shut down on May 3,
Even the limited successes against the LTTE’s international
operations in the recent past have had tremendous impact on LTTE capacities on
the ground. Nevertheless, the LTTE’s global network is far from defunct, and
the intelligence communities in the many countries in which the Tamil rebels
operate fronts will have to keep pace with the constant adaptation and inventiveness
that remains a hallmark of the LTTE’s operations, both domestically and abroad.
The Sri Lankan Ambassador to the US, Bernard Goonetilleke, in a recent
interview, rightly noted that "a problem that is taking place 10,000 miles
away from the coast of the US, is not a problem of Sri Lanka alone… Terrorist
groups feed on each other." In the ever-shrinking global village,
terrorist organisations with widely divergent ideologies and objectives are
coming together to secure tactical and material advantages. If
counter-terrorism is to succeed, the world community will have to establish a
regime of even greater and more efficient collaboration and cooperation to
neutralize the rising and diverse terrorist threat.
Source: Ocnus.net 2008