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Archive for August, 2009

The Tigers who have managed to infiltrate the South must be captured along with the traitors within the armed Forces and Police who are tied to Tiger activity and other southern unpatriotic forces. In the light of Superintendent of Police Lakshman Cooray’s involvement with the LTTE in the attempt on the life of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the assassination of Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, those that got rich suddenly in the services have to be investigated.

The relationship between SP Lakshman Cooray and the LTTE was developed during the Peace Accord period after a Tiger leader by the name of Papa had visited and met with the Jaffna based top brass of the security forces and Police for discussions. These discussions took place on the insistence of the Norwegian peace facilitators. All security personnel who were involved in these discussions should be investigated according to intelligence

Warns Sri Lankan Intelligence. The latter has also warned of the involvement of service personnel with Tigers who have infiltrated the South. They want all service personnel who have become rich overnight, to be investigated…

By Tissa Ravindra Perera
Intelligence services have established that LTTE operatives abroad are now trying to once again activate sleeping Tiger cells lying dormant in Colombo.
The plot to send in two separate teams to assassinate Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa came to light while probing into above developments. Although the State Intelligence Service had in their custody a top Tiger operative, he had not divulged the whereabouts of hidden bombs or his local connections. Even the media had revealed six months ago about a red Hero Honda bike laden with bombs sent to Colombo to assassinate the Defence Secretary, but there was no trace of the motorcycle.

As sleuths continued probing the top Tiger in their custody without disconnecting his phone that was found on him at the time of arrest brought out the information regarding their moves to activate the dormant Tigers.
The woman Tiger cadre taken in from Vavuniya in relation to the above, and the confession made by her enabled the SIS officers to take in three more LTTE operatives.

It was on information provided by these operatives that the recovery of the five kilo suicide kit, the mini Uzi gun, two magazines, five hand grenades, 13 capsules of cyanide, batteries used in suicide kits, 10 detonators and a remote control was made possible at the Ananda Rajah housing complex in Mattakkuliya on August 24, inside a metal cabinet which looked similar to an iron safe. Another Tiger woman suspect who was found in the house was also arrested. More people are to be taken into custody shortly.

Assassination plan

Their assassination plan had been to activate the motorcycle bomb on the bullet proof vehicle the Defence Secretary would be travelling in, and after the attack while he is being taken to safety, or to the National hospital, the woman suicide bomber was to mount the secondary attack.

On the earlier attempt made on the Defence Secretary in December 2006 at the Pittala Junction in Kollupitiya, by exploding an explosive packed three wheeler on his convoy, he miraculously survived with hardly a scratch on him and he was whisked away to safety by his security personnel accompanying him. Even in the attempt on the life of former Army Commander and present Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Sarath Fonseka in April of that year he too survived most miraculously after being rushed in an Army ambulance to the National hospital.

Reactivating cadres

After such previous failures, the LTTE now readies to have two separate bombers in case one failed. According to the evidence gathered by the State Intelligence, this plan too came out of Malaysia. The bombs had been brought to Colombo and hidden in January 2009. The lethal consignments sent to Colombo before the death of Prabhakaran are still hidden away in unknown places.

“Certain Tiger leaders who were responsible for bombs and bombers have died during the last battle. As a result, there is no one to give orders to the suicide cadres. Some of them are going about in Colombo with no plans or idea of what to do. The activists abroad are trying to reactivate these cadres giving them fresh targets. Some of the doings after the death of Prabhakaran confirm this,” an intelligence officer revealed.

A very similar assassination attempt to the one above was divulged by a Tiger leader taken into custody at Wellawatte by the Police Special Task Force in 2007. He had five separate ID’s under different names. The plan had been to send in a Dolphin type van with dark tinted glasses three suicide cadres in the back of the vehicle with RPG’s, and another to travel in front passenger seat wearing a suicide kit. They had trained for this in a van with the rear seats removed in the Wanni.

The plan had been to get the van close to a VIP convoy of bullet proof vehicles, and attack it with RPG fire and to complete the attack with the activation of the suicide bomber on what remains of the convoy. Had that attack been carried out an entire VIP convoy would have been wiped out. The plan had been to target the President, Defence Secretary or the then Army Commander Gen. Sarath Fonseka.

Their plan was foiled due to the work of sharp STF intelligence officers. According to intelligence warnings, the Tiger activists overseas also have their ideas of crippling the economy of the country with acts of terror so that the government cannot carry on.
Traitors

The Tigers who have managed to infiltrate the South must be captured along with the traitors within the armed forces and Police who are tied to Tiger activity and other southern unpatriotic forces. In the light of Superintendent of Police Lakshman Cooray’s involvement with the LTTE in the attempt on the life of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the assassination of Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, those that got rich suddenly in the services have to be investigated.

The relationship between SP Lakshman Cooray and the LTTE was developed during the Peace Accord period after a Tiger leader by the name of Papa had visited and met with the Jaffna based top brass of the security forces and Police for discussions. These discussions took place on the insistence of the Norwegian peace facilitators. All security personnel who were involved in these discussions should be investigated according to intelligence.

Army cook

The Army cook Siddique who was involved in the attempt on the life of the former Army Commander Gen. Sarath Fonseka, was recruited by Tigers during this same CFA era. Soldier Siddique who later turned traitor and had accepted Rs100,000 from the LTTE for his involvement in the attempt on Maj. Gen. Sarath Fonseka’s life while working in his residence as chef. He had confessed to the investigators of the TID that although he was promised Rs300,000 by Piribhakaran, his LTTE handler who planned the attack, he received only hundred thousand.

Having been injured in a motorcycle accident in October 2005, Siddique entered the Army hospital and stayed on until May 2006 according to hospital records. It has been exposed now that on April 25 he had gone to Army headquarters from the hospital on that day of the attack on Gen. Fonseka. However the hospital records show that he had been in the hospital on that day.

The fact that he was the cook at Gen. Fonseka’s official residence would not have aroused any suspicions about his movements with any security personnel and the previous Commander’s security had not given priority to security within the headquarters. As a result there were many loopholes in the system. While these security lapses were slowly being corrected, the Tigers made full use of the situation.

On the day of the attempt on the then Army Commander’s life, over thirty people had entered the Army headquarters without making any entry, according to the findings of the CID. The best expert in the CID on telephone networks, its present Director SSP Ravi Waidyalankara, in his probe of SIM cards, established that Siddique the cook had been in touch with the woman suicide cadre Manjula Devi alias Durga from the moment the Army Commander’s line of vehicles was ready to take their boss for his lunch, and until it took off with him, giving information on the goings on from 1.31pm to 1.38 pm. At 1.35 pm, as the vehicles left, he had informed her. The final call that day had been taken to her phone at 1.41 pm, but by then she had blown herself up and the phone did not work. After that he had thrown away the phone given to him by the Tigers.

Treatment

In 2006 when Siddique was under going treatment at the Army hospital Gen. Fonseka had visited the hospital during the New Year to look into the condition of soldiers who were hospitalised and hand them gifts. On seeing Siddique he had given him a gift too.

On his return from Singapore after treatment for the bomb attack injuries, and when he was to lead the fourth Eelam war, he once again visited the Army hospital and Siddique was yet there receiving treatment.
The fact that Siddique was originally from Jaffna had not been discovered by the Army during initial background checks done when he joined the Army. At the time he had been living in Akurana. Otherwise he would not have got the opportunity to work as the cook of the Commander. When he returned from vacations he used to bring back with him Wattalappan saying it was for the Army Chief, but he had never consumed the delicacy himself.

Unused canon

Meanwhile intelligence services recovered an unused 130mm cannon on August 25 worth more than ten million rupees at Kombavil, Pudukudyiruppu North. It had been dismantled and hidden six feet underground; while some more of its parts had to be dug out from the hiding place. The weapon was recovered on information given by a top Tiger who was in a Vavuniya refugee camp, a team headed by Police Inspector Zulfikar under the direction of DIG Nihal Samarakone who is in charge of Kilinochchi area, along with Army personnel had unearthed this cannon. In addition 46 barrels filled with ammunition buried underground were also unearthed this week.

Re-settle IDP’s

In the meantime action is being taken to resettle those in the Vavuniya refugee camps who originally came from Jaffna, Baticaloa, Trincomalee, Amparai and Mannar.
The Security Forces have been instructed to record the data of about seventy thousand such IDPs for resettlement. This work has been already completed in respect of about 8000 IDPs for resettlement.
The intelligence services have warned that in rushing to resettle IDPs there was the real danger of not properly vetting them for Tiger infiltrators, which can lead to terrorism raising its head once again in the resettled areas.
It had been earlier revealed that Tiger activists living overseas had been remitting huge sums to their operatives in Colombo, to get terrorists hiding in IDP camps smuggled abroad.

Anuradhapura

The situation being thus, the Army headquarters decided to remove the Anuradhapura Joint Operational Command office that was set up after the attack on the Air Force base there in October 2007, and bring the three Forces and Police together. Its first Commander Maj. Gen. Sanath Karunaratne retired recently.

Anuradhapura is the first major town for anyone coming from the Wanni. It is also the supply base for security forces for men and material and serves as the key medical evacuation point for wounded soldiers. This Command also kept the Tigers who had infiltrated Wilpattu quiet. The sudden closure of this unit will bring a halt to the joint operation of the three Forces and the Police.
However it has been decided to raise 19 new battalions with five more new attack divisions. At the moment only two fighting divisions 53 and 58 are in operation. Kandy too will have a division stationed there in the future.

Under the supervision and direction of Brig. Kumudu Perera, the Commander of the 51 Division, the Jaffna Fort is being renovated for the “Uthuru Wasanthaya”(Northern Spring) that will showcase the resettlement of the refugees, which is expected to be seen by thousands of tourists.

Infantry
“In future the infantry will be entrusted with many responsibilities: to provide security during the resettlement of civilians and to be involved in the development programmes will be our duties,” pointed out the Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Sarath Fonseka when he visited the Sinha Regiment Headquarters at Ambepussa last weekend.

That was when he visited his mother regiment, of which he was the former Commander as the Colonel of the regiment. He was presented with a guard of honour. The presentation took place under its new Commander Maj. Gen. Jayanath Perera and twenty two officers and five hundred other rankers took part in the parade in honour of Gen Fonseka. Here he reiterated, “On December 6, 2005 the President appointed me Commander of the Army with the responsibility of finishing the thirty year old LTTE separatist led terrorist War. From there on, I trained the members of the Army and also recruited many more into our fold and introduced modern technologies and modern weaponry to be on par with any modern Army of the world, feeding our warriors with new technology, training and self confidence, and enlarged the Sri Lankan Army.

“On July 20, 2006 the LTTE shut off the Marvil Aru sluice gates depriving much needed water to civilians of the area for their daily activity. They were submitted to the most severe and brutal punishment and we were entrusted with reopening the waterway. In carrying out the entrusted humanitarian task, force had to be used. By doing so we were able to give the innocent civilians water by releasing the Marvil Aru sluice. With that victory we were able to carry forward our efforts to win over the entire east which was under the terrorists, and bring peace to Muslims, Tamils and the Sinhala people living there.

“There after our target responsibility was to liberate the North from the LTTE terror with humanitarian warfare. In the final battle we were able to release over 250 thousand civilians, and win the world’s biggest human rescue mission against one of the world’s most feared terror organisations. It was done in the most responsible manner enabling us to win the honour of the entire world for our efforts. And also of the religious leaders of this country and foreign leaders for crushing the world’s most uncivilised terrorists who were responsible for the killing of innocent civilians, depriving them of basic human necessities and their civic rights. Its leader the murderer Velupillai Prabhakaran, and many of his followers and other terrorists were killed in battle and as many as 10 thousand captured by our heroic forces, who destroyed the LTTE, which was a canker not only in our view but of the world’s view too.”

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Claymore for President set after war was over

A prerequisite for the success of guerrilla warfare is a base, strategically located in a terrain in which the guerrillas can carry out their duties of training, self-preservation, and development.

Ability to fight a war without a rear area is always attributed as a fundamental characteristic of guerrilla action; however it does not mean that guerrillas can exist and function over a long period of time without the development of base areas. Mao Zedong is one of the pioneers of guerrilla warfare who stressed on the importance of establishing bases. Mao led Red Army on an 8000 km retreat to evade pursuit by Kuomintang forces and established a base in an inaccessible mountainous terrain in Shannxxi in the northwest.

LTTE itself maintained a base, which had been impregnable for the Sri Lankan troops for the most part of the war. Planning and preparation for major military and terrorist attacks took place in that territory which also provided fertile ground for recruitment. Many of the attacks executed in the south and planned in the Wanni were never resolved. However tables have turned since the military defeat of the LTTE. With the rout of the LTTE and the recapture of the territory held by the LTTE, many a mystery over the Tiger plots has been bared.

Last week, we reported how the investigators solved the mystery over the suicide attack on the former Commander of Army Gen Sarath Fonseka. Another major expose reported during the same week was the alleged complicity of the Superintendent of Police Lakshman Cooray who is accused of transporting suicide bombers and explosives on several occasions. Both arrests, of an army chef identified as Siddeek and of Lakshman Cooray were made after the arrest of a LTTE cell leader identified as Piribaran.

This week saw many more conspiracies being exposed. One such is the bomb explosion targeting the entourage of the Pakistani High Commissioner Bashir Wali Mohammad in Colpitty on August 16, 2006. The latest expose came after the arrest of another Tiger operative who is alleged to have masterminded the bomb blast.

The Pakistani High Commissioner

The Pakistani High Commissioner, the investigators now confide referring to a confession extracted from the Tiger mastermind, was a passer by. The attackers were targeting whoever was the VIP taking the route.

The Tiger operative had in fact missed the first attempt on an unknown VIP vehicle which passed the place— due to a technical glitch in the remote controller. He then went into the Liberty Plaza shopping mall and repaired the gadget. Returning to his position, he observed what looked like VIP movement and pressed the button, detonating the bomb laden inside a three-wheeler. It was after the blast that attacker came to know that the quarry had been the Pakistani High Commissioner. The explosion killed seven soldiers providing security to the Pakistani envoy and risked a diplomatic stand off between Pakistan and its arch rival India. Mr Wali Mohammed, himself a retired Colonel of the Pakistan army and Inter Services Intelligence blamed India for the attack. India’s Intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) was suspected in the attack.

It took three years for the secrets of the attack to surface. The Tiger mastermind was arrested along with a suicide jacket, claymore fragmentation mines, ammunition and a handgun at a house on the Anandaraja Mawatha, Mattakuliya.

The arrest had shed light into another assassination plot. The target of the latest plot, according to intelligence officials, is the Secretary of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who survived a previous attack at the Pittala junction in 2006.

Accordingly, the modus operandi had been to ram an explosive laden motor bike on the vehicle of the defence secretary. A back up plan has also been put in place to target the ambulance which would evacuate Rajapaksa after the explosion, using another suicide attacker.

The elaborate plan had been masterminded by an operative identified by his nom de guerre as Venu, who had left for Malaysia having done the preparations for the attack. Police had not yet arrested either, the suicide bombers or seized the explosive laden motor bikes.

We could not vouch for the credibility of regular exposes of alleged plots claimed to have been bared by the Police due the absence of verifiable sources and restriction on media access. However, if we are to go by these claims, believing that they are not of a tall order, they portend a disturbing development . LTTE’s sleeper cells are active, even after the military rout of the movement.

However, such a claim needs to be qualified by a careful analysis of the timeline of the conspiracies exposed by the security agencies recently. Many such conspiracies had been hatched before the annihilation of the LTTE in May. As for the assassination attempt on Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the alleged mastermind, Venu had left for Malaysia in April. However, one anecdote differs from this category. Two months after the military defeat of the LTTE, Lakshman Cooray transported two claymore mines to Buttala. He buried one weighing 15kg at the playground where the President’s helicopter was scheduled to land — which had been changed by the Presidential Security at the last moment – and the other on the road side to target the Presidential motorcade.

Loosely knitted, shadowy cells

Two claymore mines were unearthed with information provided by the arrested SSP.
Cooray acted in cahoots with Piribaran, the Tiger cell leader now in custody.

Piribaran operated directly under the feared Tiger intelligence wing leader Pottu Amman. However, it is not clear under whose orders, the Tiger mastermind operated since the obliteration of the LTTE’s top rung leadership. What is however evident is that his leaders are not prepared to give up-despite the newly appointed LTTE leader Kumaran Pathmanathan alias KP’s purported announcement of LTTE silencing guns.

The LTTE is defeated conclusively on the battle front and its top leadership is obliterated and the base lost. Yet, loosely knitted, shadowy cells of LTTE cadres appear to be active, taking orders from LTTE operatives overseas. These groups, as evident in recent arrests of Piribaran are capable of independent action.

This holds resemblance to the metamorphosis of the Al Qaeda, which until the coalition invasion of Afghanistan was a terrorist group with a top down hierarchical structure and an operational base. Having been deprived of its base, Al Qaeda evolved into loosely knit cells which take inspiration from Osama bin Laden and Salafi Jihadist ideology and are capable of independent action. These Al Qaeda affiliated groups have taken precedence in terrorist attacks in the west while Al Qaeda Central receded in influence. LTTE itself is no longer the strict top down hierarchical structure it had been before May this year. The arrest of KP would lead it further into the wilderness. Disparaging Islamic extremist groups draw inspiration from Salafi ideology and Osama bin laden and from what are called Al Qaeda affiliated groups. In the same manner, sleeper cells of the LTTE, though not in large numbers can operate, drawing inspiration from the legacy of the LTTE. Yet, the leadership vacuum would be a handicap.

Perinpanayagam Sivapalan alias Nediyavan,(tall man in Tamil), a resident of Tamil Vestlan and a former cadre of the LTTE’s political wing is rumoured to be the next leader of the LTTE.

Nediyavan is reputed, among Tamil circles for favouring brute force over negotiations, which kept him at odds with KP who announced that the LTTE would take a “political path.” Later, he patched up with the KP, weeks before the latter’s arrest. Intelligence officials say these cadres are in touch with the sleeper cells of the LTTE. One official cautioned that these cells are in the process of reorganizing themselves and linking with their overseas branches. Surely, the once conventional war has now transformed into an intelligence war. It is also a race with the time. The intelligence agencies have to dismantle the sleeper cells of the LTTE before they reorganize themselves.

(Lakbima News)

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Over the years, Sri Lankan soldiers were trained by special forces from around the world, including the US, UK and Israel.

Sri Lanka’s military spent years in the 1980s and 1990s being trained by the world’s elite special forces in counterinsurgency tactics. Now it is being asked to return the favour after employing new, if brutal, strategies to defeat Tamil guerrillas in May.

“Sri Lanka has become a textbook case for defence academies and military colleges all over the world following the defeat of the rebels,” said Iqbal Athas, an award-winning defence columnist for Sri Lanka’s independent Sunday Times newspaper, in an interview. “They would like Sri Lanka to share its experience, knowledge and skills in defeating the rebels.”

The army’s commander, Lt General Jagath Jayasuriya, during a ceremony at the armoured corps regiment a week ago in Colombo, told journalists there is increasing interest from foreign countries for their forces to be trained by Sri Lankan officers, particularly on small-team operations, which were central to defeating the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). “We received a request from Pakistan to train their officers on our small-team operations, so we have decided to open several new training schools in Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi and Vavuniya [all in the north] to train local and foreign military officers,” the army chief was quoted as saying, in newspapers.

According to Gen Sarath Fonseka, who was the army commander during the past 34-month battle against the rebels, and is now the chief of defence staff, unconventional war strategies were the difference between this campaign’s success and the failures of the past.

Speaking at a conference at the University of Jayawadenepura in Colombo last week, Gen Fonseka said the army’s changing battlefield formations, command systems and new weapons caught the LTTE totally off guard.

“The army began fighting like guerrillas while the terrorists reacted like a conventional army with conventional weapons. The army’s strategy this time was to go for the kill instead of holding on to the land. The terrorists were put off balance.”

Describing the harsh battle conditions faced by troops – fighting 24 hours a day in bad weather, sometimes submerged up to their necks in water – Gen Fonseka said Eelam War Phase IV, the fourth military campaign against the rebels since 1983, saw 5,000 soldiers die and another 27,000 injured. At least 22,000 rebels were killed in the final battle, according to government figures.

“In terms of their experience, the special forces, commandos and the special infantry operations trained units [of the Sri Lankan military] that participated in the final phase [of the battle] are considered the best of the best,” said Dr Rohan Gunaratne, the head of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, and also a professor at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanayang Technological University in Singapore.

He said security and intelligence services worldwide regarded the LTTE as one of the most ruthless terrorist groups and the most effective insurgent movement in the world.

Before the war began in the early 1980s, the Sri Lankan military was largely a ceremonial force of a few thousand. Now it includes more than 200,000 soldiers. The security forces were slow to transform when terrorism first became a threat, and, according to Dr Gunaratne, the military learnt through trial and error in the first two decades. “After suffering huge and sustained losses, the Sri Lankan military gained invaluable experience and expertise. Almost every army general serving today had fought as a young officer.”

The defence columnist Mr Athas said “going for the kill” rather than land acquisition – the tactic used in the past against the rebels – was the key to the army’s victory. “Earlier, the problem was that the military was intent on reclaiming land and holding on to it, which was not a good policy. There was also no co-ordination between the military and the political establishment.

“This time the target was the LTTE, not land acquisition. The political and military establishment also acted in concert. Whatever the military wanted in strength [soldiers], they got, or if weapons were needed, they were given.”

Over the years, the battle between government forces and the rebels had focused on gaining land and territorial advantage – with success by both sides.

Dr Gunaratne said Sri Lanka has had access to the training provided by the best security and intelligence services, including the British, US and Israeli special forces. He said Zimbabwean pilots trained Sri Lankan pilots contour flying (low level flying), and the Pakistani Special Services Group trained the Sri Lankan troops in the 1980s.

Dr Gunaratne agreed with Mr Athas in that strong political will was crucial to the winning strategy. In the past, the Sri Lankan security forces had no co-ordinated national plan.

“With the appointment of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, a highly determined and committed professional fighter as secretary defence, dismantling the LTTE became the top national security priority of Sri Lanka,” Dr Gunaratne said.

Mr Rajapaksa, a brother of Mahinda Rajapaksa, the president, co-ordinated the armed forces, the police, the civilian defence, the intelligence community and the other branches of government essential to dismantling the LTTE, Dr Gunaratne said.

While the military victory remains unquestioned, it remains to be seen whether Mr Rajapaksa’s government can win the peace.

Jehan Perera, a political columnist for the Island newspaper, an independent English-language daily, said that while the war has ended, the search for a solution to resolve the root cause of the conflict is a long way ahead. “The military win and the unwillingness of nationalist forces in the majority Sinhalese community to provide concessions to minority Tamils makes a long-term solution much harder.”

(The National Newspaper)

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“If we fail in our final plan, we would be killed by the Sri Lankan Army. In such an eventuality, no one can claim an Eelam in Sri Lanka and the Eelam dream would become a nightmare.” These were Prabakarans’s last words to the rest of the Tiger leaders

How the Eelam dream became a nightmare
It was during the height of Eelam War IV, when the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) or Tamil Tigers were pushed to the last remaining piece of real estate. To be exact, even that little bit of real estate was not directly under its control. It was the government declared ‘No Fire Zone’ (NFZ) for the civilians held hostage by the Tigers to take refuge. But the Tigers too had taken refuge among the civilians and positioned their bunkers and big guns among them.

It was in this scenario, that the desperate Tigers attempted to mount a counterstrike on the Sri Lanka Army’s Forward Defence Lines (FDL) in a move to break away from the siege, and flee into the Puthukudyiruppu jungles. But the strike was thwarted by the alert security forces who managed to kill most of the top rung Tiger leaders during the pitched battle.

Tiger captured alive
It was a little after this battle that a senior LTTE member who was wounded in battle was captured alive by the Sri Lanka Army Commandoes and handed over to intelligence officers. The Sri Lanka Army took him into custody and he proved to be a close aide of Tiger chief Velupillai Prabhakaran. He had been with his leader during the last days.

And now, he is still in custody at an undisclosed security location, and being interrogated. An intelligence officer gave this column vivid details of the final stages of the vanishing Eelam dream of the LTTE. It was also an account of the last days of Prabhakaran’s life.

This column will not divulge his real name as it may hamper ongoing investigations. We will call him by another name, Gokulan Master, for our convenience. And this is what he had to say to this columnist:
“We were all living in our dream world of Eelam created by our Leader Velupillai Prabhakaran. We were isolated from the real world without our realising it. We saw only Prabhakaran’s world. I watched only TV programmes broadcast by the LTTE as well as south Indian televisions and listened to only the Voice of Tigers radio. Prabhakaran had conducted a psychological operation or psy-ops among the Tamils living within the LTTE controlled areas so that he was seen as the supreme invincible leader, who the Sri Lanka Army could not defeat. He also impressed upon the Tamils that his organisation, the LTTE, can easily carry out attacks in any part of the island at will. We never thought that the Sri Lanka Army would kill Prabhakaran but it happened.”

Prabha underestimated the Army
V. Prabhakaran made all these statements because he severely underestimated the capabilities of the Sri Lanka Army. That was the greatest mistake he ever committed. He always believed, even during the final pitched battles, and even made us believe, that Norway will come to our rescue.”

Gokulan Master further told his interrogators that when the LTTE lost both Pooneryn and Elephant Pass, Prabhakaran had been in touch, via his satellite phone, with the USA based V. Rudrakumaran and the elusive Kumaran Pathmanadan alias KP. Prabhakaran had urged them to exert pressure on the international community and the human rights organisation to pressurise the Sri Lankan government to stop the military onslaught on the Tiger defences.
In one instance, Prabhakaran was so desperate that he instructed the LTTE’s Political Wing head B. Nadesan to declare a ceasefire with the military.

Nadesan, the policeman turned LTTE ‘IGP’ and in turn its Political Wing head after S.P. Thamilselvan, and was killed in a Sri Lanka Air Force raid, had tried his best to carry out his instructions, Gokulan Master said.

Prabhakaran desperate within the NFZ
While the remaining LTTE leadership had been confined by the Sri Lanka Army to the small area within the government declared NFZ, Prabhakaran had kept close contact via his satellite phone, with Tamil Nadu Politician Vaiko and Nadumaran, Rudrakumaran from the USA and KP. He repeatedly urged them to bring about an international intervention resulting in a ceasefire.

When the Sri Lanka Army’s Special Forces and Commandos initially attempted to rescue the civilians held hostage, and when the civilians responded by moving towards the army controlled areas, Prabhakaran immediately instructed his cadres to kill anyone who attempted to flee, and display the bodies as a deterrent to the others. He had several such incidents videoed and photographed, and sent them to the international media, putting the blame on the Sri Lankan government forces.

When the LTTE was driven out of the East, Prabhakaran was furious over the Sri Lanka Army’s successes. He never imagined that the SLA was capable of inflicting that sort of damage to the LTTE.

During late 2007, when the battles in the North were ongoing and the military were gaining ground, Prabhakaran summoned his top leaders Pottu Amman, Ratnam Master, Balraj, Theepan, Bhanu, Sornam and Charles, for a meeting. This meeting went into the wee hours of the morning in Prabhakaran’s bunker at Visvamadu.

They discussed strategies and plans to stop or at least slow down the advance of the Sri Lanka Army. A notable feature during this meeting was the details put forward by Balraj. He said, “The Sri Lanka Army’s Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka is adopting different tactics during this battle. Previous commanders had not been able to adopt tactics like these. He also has tremendous political backing, and even the government is not bowing to international pressure. Another element is Gotabhaya Rajapaksa (Defence Secretary) who himself was a senior Army officer who has taken part and commanded previous battles. They make a unique combination and may prove difficult to dislodge.”

Recruiting children and elderly
It was following this meeting, that the LTTE decided to increase its manpower and began recruiting children as young as 12 years and adults over 50 years. These persons thus recruited were inducted into the ‘Makkal Padai’ or People’s Force after a very short training.
Simultaneously, on a concept put forward by Theepan and Balraj, the LTTE started putting up earth bunds, going up from five feet to 20 feet in height, depending on the location.

Invest shares in stock market
During the Ceasefire Agreement period, Prabhakaran sent messages to Colombo and overseas Tamil businessmen to invest in the share market in Colombo. He had also instructed them that when they received orders from the United Kingdom, they should sell their shares they had invested in. This was possibly his way of waging an economic war to cripple Sri Lanka’s economy through the share market. But when he was driven away from his areas of control and trapped in the NFZ, his plans went awry.

Prabhakaran’s luxury lifestyle
Although Prabhakaran led the battles and sometimes was present in close proximity, he had all the necessary comforts in life. He stayed in air-conditioned bunkers; he had enough supplies of food and had enough supply of insulin injections for his diabetic condition.
He had a swimming pool which could be used exclusively by him and his family. Only very close associates and visitors were allowed to use it. He also rode in amour plated vehicles, a Pajero and several specially modified vehicles.

But later on, his life became more restrictive. When the SL Army’s Special Forces and Commandos had infiltrated areas under his control, Prabhakaran’s movements were restricted further. He didn’t speak to his leaders over the phone. He always sent a messenger, one of his trusted cadres from his own security unit, with a message summoning anyone to meet him at a said place. Often this place changed several times before the actual meeting took place.

This was due to security fears. Prabhakaran’s lifestyle became more and more secretive as the battles progressed.

He only trusted his own intelligence unit members. Apart from the general intelligence unit of the LTTE, Prabhakaran had his own unit. From this unit, he placed one or two persons of his choice within the other units to act as spies for him on rest of LTTE key leaders. This unit was regularly updated by Prabhakaran.

A doctor named Dr Puri was detailed with providing medical attention to Prabhakaran. He used to check Prabhakaran’s blood pressure at least twice a day. During the latter stages of battle, Prabhakaran’s health too suffered. He suffered from high blood pressure due to the stress, Dr Puri said.

In 2007, V. Prabhakaran appointed his elder son Charles Anthony as the deputy leader of the organisation. When he did this, his spies reported to Prabhakaran that most of the other leaders had voiced their displeasure over this decision. Due to this, Charles Anthony was heavily guarded and always lived with his father.

When the Sri Lanka Army’s Special Forces and Commandos infiltrated LTTE held areas and began eliminating mid-level leaders, Prabhakaran became highly depressed. He used to say that the loss of even a single leader was a big blow to the organisation as it had taken nearly five to six years to train such a leader. The vacuum could not be filled so fast, he opined.

When Charles (not Prabhakaran’s son), the LTTE intelligence leader was ambushed and killed by the Special Forces in Mannar, it dealt a severe blow to the LTTE. Prabhakaran was shocked to hear the news of Charles’ death.
He blamed Pottu Amman for the lack of intelligence. But during and after the Tiger attacks on the Anuradhapura Sri Lanka Air Force Base, Prabhakaran was a happy man. He was also thoroughly pleased when he heard that the suicide bomber had blown himself up killing former Highways Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle.

But again, when the attempts to assassinate Army Commander (then) Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka and the failed attempt on Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, coupled with the inability to attack and destroy the Security Forces’ radar station at Vavuniya came to light, Prabhakaran was a furious man. He blamed the dearth of proper intelligence and also blamed Pottu Amman.

Restrictive
After the battles progressed and the Tiger leaders were driven from Puthukudyiruppu into the NFZ, Prabhakaran’s movements became increasingly restricted. Prabhakaran never visited Kilinochchi in five years, as he felt that security was not adequate for him in the area. When the LTTE lost Pooneryn and Kilinochchi, Prabhakaran once told Pottu Amman that 75 per cent of his struggle for Eelam had gone downstream.

He said that the LTTE had to boost the sagging morale of its cadres and slow down the enemy, at least till the international community intervened on the LTTE’s behalf.
While these ideas were being bandied about, Balraj was killed in another Special Forces ambush. This dealt another devastating blow to the Tiger outfit.

With a faraway look in his eyes, Gokulan Master continued with his narration. He said by this time the morale of the cadres had reached a low ebb. Everybody had a feeling that the Sri Lankan Army would defeat them very soon. But the LTTE’s psy-ops always insisted that the international community would bail them out, even at the last moment.
When the Sri Lanka Army was about to overrun Visvamadu, Prabhakaran shifted to Puthukudyiruppu. From there he directed the fight while ensconced in underground bunkers set up by utilising containers. These were almost all air-conditioned.

At this juncture, an interrogating officer interrupted Gokulan Master to ask a question.

“What do you think of Prabhakaran’s comforts during these times?”
Gokulan Master’s reply was, “Not only Prabhakaran, even the other upper echelon leaders had all the comforts in life. Prabhakaran enjoyed extraordinary comforts while the others had better than average comforts. They had at least three meals a day while the fighting cadre had only one meal or no meal at all during some days.”

Gokulan Master went onto say that Prabhakaran became increasingly depressed as the battles progressed. When the Sri Lankan Security Forces were poised to take over Puthukudyiruppu, Prabhakaran and Pottu Amman slipped into the ‘No Fire Zone’.

“I too slipped in with them,” added Gokulan Master.
But before slipping into the NFZ, Prabhakaran instructed his cadres to set up bunkers and artillery positions in close proximity to the civilians. While fleeing from Puthukudyiruppu to the NFZ, Prabhakaran could not take most of his personal belongings with him. And at Karayamullivaikkal, all the leaders had their bunkers built close to each other. “We were confined only to the NFZ by then. Then on the night of May, the SL Army’s Special Forces and Commandos entered the NFZ unexpectedly. They opened a safe route for the civilians to enter government controlled areas. They began fleeing in numbers and we could not stop them, however much we tried.”

According to Gokulan Master by then, knowing the situation, Prabhakaran summoned Pottu Amman and ordered him to instruct most of the LTTE intelligence cadres to move into government controlled areas along with the civilians. Some even carried children and infants to allay any suspicions. They were instructed to remain as refugees until such time they receive instructions regarding the weapons which were buried. They were to utilise these weapons as and when necessary to attack the government security forces. When the LTTE was losing territory to the advancing SL Army, Prabhakaran had instructed his cadres to bury all their weapons before retreating.

Once the Special Forces opened up a route for the civilians, Prabhakaran demanded from his leaders as to how it had happened. They said that the Special Forces had moved to close proximity even without their knowledge, and they were too close to be stopped by then.

Gokulan Master continued his narrative
“By then our life was not comfortable at all. Our food was mainly high nutrition biscuits provided by several INGOs earlier. Even during the tsunami of 2004, these INGO and NGOs brought in heavy earth moving equipment for rebuilding purposes. But they left them with us when they went back. Those machines were the ones we used to put up bunds and also build bunkers. During the ceasefire period, we got enough and more construction material like cement, iron rods etc.

‘Then, while the civilians were leaving across the Nanthi Kadal lagoon, we were attacked from the south as well. On May 16, Prabhakaran had an emotional meeting with his leaders. He said there were only two options left now.

He said, the Sri Lanka government was neither giving into international pressure nor stopping its onslaught. The options left were to either mount a massive counter attack on the military Forward Defence Lines (FDL) in the south and make a break towards the Mullaitivu jungles, or to mount a similar attack on the FDL across the Nanthi Kadal lagoon and enter the Puthukudyiruppu jungles. Once inside the jungles, Prabhakaran was sure that we could survive for another month or two.
“According to this plan, on May 15, deploying some suicide cadres, we mounted an attack on the Sri Lanka Army’s Defence Line with committed suicide cadres. But contrary to our expectations, the SL Army was too alert and stronger than we expected. Our attack was a disaster. Many of our top rung cadres were killed during this attack.

On May 17, Prabhakaran told us he was ready for the last gamble, to break through the enemy and enter the Puthukudyiruppu jungles. The plan was to break through the SL Army defence lines and march along the Nanthi Kadala lagoon banks into the Puthukudyiruppu jungles. Prabhakaran told us that if we succeeded, we could stay within the jungles for a few months until the international community or South India intervened on behalf of the LTTE. If we failed, we would be killed by the Sri Lankan Army. In such an eventuality, no one can claim an Eelam in Sri Lanka, he said.

So, on the morning of May 18, the near 35-year-old dream of Tamil Eelam became a nightmare to us.
[Interruption by interrogators]
Question: What will happen now to the other LTTE cadres still hiding in Colombo and the south?

Answer: When there is no leadership how can they function? I can say the entire LTTE organisation died on May 18. If there is a ghost of the LTTE still remaining, it too will be wiped out. As a Tamil, I believe that the LTTE has brought about the greatest disaster to the Tamils. Each and every displaced civilian would be cursing the LTTE and Prabhakaran as its leader.

He spent a luxury life putting others into suffering. Even the soap he used was brought from overseas. And at the tail end, he too had to undergo at least a fraction of the sufferings, without food or shelter, depressed and hunted by an unbelievably strong enemy, the Sri Lankan security forces.

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The Colombo based magazine Lankadweep said in recent reports that Sri Lankan army found 12 fighter planes belonging to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ezham at the airport located in Eritrea.

With crucial information blurted out by the LTTE leader Selvarasa Pathmanathan alias KP, Sri Lanka has managed to find the fight planes landed in Eritrea airport with the help of the government. The legitimate body of Eritrea continued their patronage to the Liberation Tigers since many years and assisted them in maintaining the air and sea based attack vehicles.

The government invited Prabhakaran to vamoose from the war zone and seek safety in Eritrea, reported the magazine. Sri Lanka is on the verge to hold a peace talk with the country and confiscate the planes which pose a possible threat of air raids over their nation. Moreover, they are planning to retrieve the ships and submarines that are said to be in Eritrea to be utilized by the LTTEs for future assault.

  • Sri Lanka to open Mission in Eritrea to counter LTTE network

Sri Lanka is looking at the possibility of opening an embassy in Eritrea as part of measures to counter the LTTE’s international network which is said to be still active despite the arrest of the chief arms procurer of the Tigers Kumaran Pathmanathan alias KP, Foreign Ministry sources told Daily Mirror online.

The move comes after Kumaran Pathmanathan had revealed more details of the LTTE’s international network which is also active in several other countries, sources added.

Eritrea had emerged as a major transshipment point and sanctuary for key players in the informal arms trade and the LTTE had established a presence in Eritrea primarily to operate in the informal arms market.

It was reported earlier that the LTTE maintains regular interactions with many armed groups including groups affiliated to the Al Qaeda operating in the Eritrean Network. The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee report dated 15 December 2006, explicitly stated that the Government of Eritrea provides direct support to the LTTE. 

  • Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Profile

“Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is a separatist organization formally based in northern Sri Lanka. Founded in May 1976, it waged a violent secessionist campaign that sought to create an independent Tamil state in the north and east of Sri Lanka. This campaign evolved into the Sri Lankan Civil War, which was one of the longest running armed conflicts in Asia until the LTTE was militarily defeated by the Sri Lankan Military in May 2009. The Tigers, who during the height of their power possessed a well-developed militia cadre, were notorious for recruiting child soldiers, for carrying out civilian massacres, suicide bombings and various other high profile attacks, including the assassinations of several high-ranking Sri Lankan and Indian politicians like Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa in 1993, and former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991. They invented the suicide belt and pioneered the use of suicide bombing as a tactic. They also pioneered the use of women in suicide attacks, and used light aircraft in some of their attacks.

They are currently proscribed as a terrorist organization by the US, EU and others (a total 32 countries), but have extensive support amongst the Tamil diaspora in Europe and North America, and amongst Tamils in India.”

(Jimma Times)

(more…)

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It could have been the perfect recipe for disaster for former Sri Lankan army chief, General Sarath Fonseka, recently made the chief of defence staff (CDS).

Trooper Siddiqui with the voluntary armoured corp was cooking for Fonseka since 2002 in Jaffna and was his main chef at his official residence in Colombo where he moved in 2004. But culinary skills was not Siddiqui’s only forte — he was a LTTE cadre given the job of ensuring access for Tiger suicide cadres to enter the army headquarters and target Fonseka.

“Siddiqui was cooking in the army chalet since 2002 when I was the security forces commander in Jaffna. In 2004, my ADC brought him to my official residence in Colombo. In the month of December same year, I became army chief,’’ Fonseka told HT.

Three months before Fonseka took over as army chief Siddiqui met with an accident and was admitted in the military hospital inside the army headquarters where the army chief’s office was also located.

“His (Siddiqui’s) handler and the female suicide cadre came to the hospital four-five times in the guise of being his relatives. They did a complete reconnaissance of the army headquarters and also kept track of my movements. Siddiqui was aware. I also visited him in hospital,’’ he said.

According to Daily News, on April 25, 2006, it was the cook who made the final phone call to the female suicide cadre awaiting Fonseka’s motorcade opposite the hospital. It was to pass the information that the army commander had left the headquarters to have his lunch at home. Fonseka was badly injured but survived the attack.

Siddiqui continued to work at the armoured corp headquarters till three weeks ago when he was arrested.

According to Fonseka, Siddiqui’s name was mentioned by another arrested LTTE cadre who was part of the operation. The cadre also revealed that Fonseka had been marked as a target by the LTTE way back in 1991.

“Siddiqui was arrested. Two weeks ago, he hung himself in a police cell. He used his own shirt,’’ Fonseka said.

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Sri Lanka’s vanquished Tamil Tiger rebels suffered another major blow with the arrest of their new leader on August 5.

Selvarasa Pathmanathan, an internationally-wanted operative, was reportedly arrested in a South-east Asian capital. His arrest, shrouded in mystery, has further tightened the noose around the remaining rebels of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), whose supremo, Velupillai Prabhakaran, was killed in a bloody showdown in north-eastern Sri Lanka in mid-May. Pathmanathan, who claimed the mantle of the LTTE leadership after Prabhakarn’s death, is a prized catch for the Sri Lankan government.

While Sri Lankan officials confirmed that the 54-year-old Pathmanathan was flown into Colombo accompanied by intelligence officials, they did not divulge which South-east Asian capital — Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur or Singapore — that flight began in.

“Naming the country where he was arrested will raise issues like extradition treaties and if any laws were violated,” said an Asian diplomatic source, who requested anonymity. “It will also be seen as another case of rendition, which can be embarrassing for the country concerned.”

That explains why reports of Pathmanathan being apprehended in Bangkok were soon dismissed by the Sri Lankan government. Some media reports claim he was arrested in Kuala Lumpur. But Thai and Malaysian authorities have denied that Pathmanathan, known to many by his alias ‘KP’, was apprehended in their backyards.

The Sri Lankan government has much to cheer about considering Pathmanathan played a major role in strengthening the LTTE. During his many decades living outside Sri Lanka, he presided over a global network of arms smuggling, bolstering its military strength during its nearly three-decade long separatist struggle against Sri Lankan troops.

“This is a significant breakthrough for the government,” Iqbal Athas, a defence analyst for Sri Lanka’s Sunday Times newspaper said in a telephone interview from Colombo. “He holds the answers to a number of questions about the LTTE’s international operations.”

Among them, according to Athas, is the global fundrasing network for the LTTE that spans from Australia, on the one end, to Canada, on the other. “His international network to procure weapons and the support he received from groups around the world will be unraveled.”

However, Sri Lanka could have laid its hands on such information much earlier. In September 2007, Pathmanathan was arrested in Thailand, according to well-placed sources, but was subsequently released due to diplomatic bungling by Colombo.

That his luck ran out in South-east Asia is no surprise since this region has been his turf to build an underground LTTE network since the early 1990s.

The end of a long conflict in Cambodia led to its emergence as a major arms bazaar, attracting the likes of Pathamanathan. “During that period in the early 1990s, the LTTE bought its weapons in Cambodia, while Thailand’s role was the transit point,” says Anthony Davis, an Asian security analyst for IHS Janes, a London-based global information provider on defence and national security issues.

Malaysia has been important to the LTTE because of its large Tamil diaspora, while “Singapore was where lot of money transactions took place,” Davis told IPS.

In the past, the region’s governments and the local media have confirmed the presence of the LTTE’s network, ranging from money laundering to weapons trade. In November 2006, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen revealed that arms purchased in his country were being smuggled out to help the Tigers.

Years ago, Thailand was in the spotlight after reports emerged that the Tigers were using the country’s Andaman coast to boost its tactical strength against Sri Lankan troops. The Sea Tigers, the naval wing of the LTTE, allegedly received military training from Norwegian ex-special forces to mount underwater demolition strikes among other things.

According to Lloyd’s List, the London-based shipping publication, the Tigers had moved its operations to Thailand’s southern coast after being forced to end operations in Burma, another South-east Asian country, in 1996.

Presiding over this widespread network was Pathmanathan, who Davis describes as an “internationally sophisticated operative skilled as a banker, arms smuggler and [who is] well versed in intelligence.”

“He brought together a rare convergence of skills,” adds Davis. “He was a class of his own even at an international level.”

It was these skills that enabled Pathmanathan, a native of Jaffna peninsular, to take on many aliases and hold over 10 passports to dodge being arrested by governments that wanted him and Interpol, too.

The ‘KP Department’ that he set up also operated a fleet of ships and had a presence in other lucrative spots that were magnets for gunrunners, such as Afghanistan, Eritrea and Ukraine. At its peak, some security experts say, the ‘KP Department’ contributed substantially to the LTTE’s annual earnings which ranged between 200 and 300 million U.S. dollars.

Earlier this year, as the LTTE faced defeat, Pathmanathan was assigned a political role by the cornered Prabhakaran. He was asked to head the international affairs department of the rebels.

Pathmanathan, who is married to a Thai national from the city of Chiang Mai, pursued his new mission from Malaysia. It was in the latter country that he had a secret rendezvous with a Norwegian diplomat and also talked to a ranking United Nations official to secure relief measures for the cornered Tiger leadership in north-eastern Sri Lanka.

After Prabhakaran’s death, which effectively brought to an end the ethnic conflict that led to nearly 100,000 deaths, Pathmanathan declared that he was the new leader of the LTTE. To cement his new profile, he became more public. He gave a television interview to a British broadcaster and becoming more vocal on websites advocating the Tamil cause.

“He exposed himself after years of living an underground life,” says an Asian intelligence expert who has been monitoring the LTTE for years. “He was done in by all this new publicity.”

(IPS Inter Press Service)

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