Piribaran arrest unravels Tiger operandi
Two major arrests made in early this month by the Terrorist Investigation Division have unraveled the LTTE’s modest operandi.
The two arrests, one of a senior police official, Superintendent of Police Lakshman Coory and the other of the former personal chef named Siddeek of the current Chief of Defence Staff Sarath Fonseka have now compelled the security agencies on an overhaul on its strategy in the VIP security. Concerns are further compounded with the renewed fears that at least some of the top echelons of security services have been infiltrated.
The arrest and subsequent revelations of SP Lakshman Cooray is discussed in other pages of this paper.
A veteran Tiger operative identified in his nom de gurrae, Piribaran arrested last month divulged the shocking details of treason, which saw the arrest of two men, both having access to sensitive details.
Piribaran, a handler of LTTE suicide bombers had operated directly under the feared Inteligence Wing Leader , Shivashankar Shanmugalingam alias Pottu Amman.
The circumstances of Piribaran’s arrest are not clear. However, what is clear is his arrest had led to a series of arrests and unraveled some of the great mysteries which confronted the investigators. The story is telling.
Siddeek, a native of Jaffna, who relocated to Akurana after the LTTE forced Muslims out of Jaffna has been a soldier of Sri Lanka National Guard since 1995. He had been posted in Jaffna during the early 2000 where General Sarath Fonseka (then Major General) was the Security Forces Commander, Jaffna.
Siddeek, who had earlier served as the personal chef of Major General Sarath Munasinge and was reputed for his culinary skills was hired by General Fonseka’s staff as his personal chef. But, what they did not know was that Siddeek was already a Tiger operative.
An Intelligence operative of the LTTE had befriended Siddeek during the short sourjoun of peace process, when he frequented a mosque in Kankasanthurai for Friday Muslim prayers.
During the course of period, Gen Fonseka was appointed Volunteer Force Commander and later the Commander of Army. Siddeek moved from Jaffna to Colombo to serve as the personal chef of the commander of army. Siddeek cooked for the commander of army, yet, he had a different mission.
October 2005, while he was riding a motor bike in Seeduwa, he was injured in an accident and was admitted to the Army Hospital.
Piribaran who had, by then, approached Siddeek visited him in military hospital. During his first visit, he obtained a visitors pass from Siddeek, which was sent to Pottu Amman who embossed two passes in the same format and sent them to Piribaran.
Piribaran visited the Military Hospital on the pretext of seeing Siddeek on four occasions during the next two months with the aid of the forged visitors pass. On his visit to the Military Hospital, he monitored the entourage of Gen Fonseka and, allegedly decided it was the best place to target the Army Chief.
During his final visit, Piribaran was accompanied by the would be suicide bomber Manula Devi Kanakapathipillai alias Durga.
Manjula Devi born in 1983 is a native of Anuradhapura and later moved to Kilinichchi.
Schooled in Sinhalese medium, she could speak fluent Sinhalese.
A Black Tiger trained for a VIP mission, she fetched a ride to Colombo with a Shanmugalingam Suriya Kumara, a Lorry driver who frequented Kilinochchi transporting dry fish from Wanni to Colombo.
Sooriya Kumara, a native of Chunnakulam, Jaffna is married to a Sinhalese woman, Asha Dilrukshi. Both lived in a house in Rambukkana. They had a four year old child. Running between Jaffna and Colombo, Suriya Kumara had been charged by the LTTE’s police over a traffic violation . He was compelled to attend the hearing of an “LTTE court”. Visiting Kilinochchi frequently for court hearing, he was approached by an intelligence cadre of the LTTE, assigned to the entry-exit point in Puliyankulam, who offered to help him out of his trouble in return of his service to the LTTE’s intelligence wing. Suriya Kumar, reportedly, accepted the offer and was introduced to an LTTE intelligence wing leader identified in his nom de gurrae as Vinothan.
Later, Vinothan offered to sell him dry fish at a cheaper than market price, thereby cultivating a relationship. While travelling frequently to Wanni, Suriya Kumara made an extra income through his new business deal.
Some months later, Vinothan asked a favour. He requested Suriya Kumar to house a woman identified as his sister, who he said is going to Colombo to go abroad. It was Manjula Devi.
Suriya Kumara brought the would be suicide bomber to Colombo and provided accommodation at his house in Rambukkana. On her request, he bribed the local Grama Sevaka to forge a National Identity Card.
Manjula Devi visited Colombo on the pretext of applying for visa and kept in touch with her handler, Piribaran.
Meanwhile, the LTTE financed Suriya Kumara to rent a house in Weliweriya. Suriya Kumara family moved to the new house along with Manjula Devi.
On April 24, two days before the attack, Manjula Devi met Piribaran in Colombo and both visited the Army Hospital using the forged visitors pass. They rehearsed the attack and Manjula Devi returned to Weliweriya on 25th.
On her last night, she didn’t eat, claiming a headache. On the morning of the fateful day, she skipped the breakfast, drank a cup of milk and left for Colombo.
Ayesha, Suriya Kumar’s wife clueless of the conspiracy, however noticed Manjula Devi, usually a cheerful woman was different on that day. Manjula Devi used to cajole four year old child of Ayesha and Suruya Kumar every time before she leaves the house to go to Colombo. That day she didn’t and unassuming Ayesha quipped to her husband that the “akka is different today”
On her last journey to Colombo, Manjula Devi took a bus from Weliweriya to Gampaha, from where she boarded a train bound to Colombo. In Colombo, she took a bus to Wellawatta where she met Piribaran, who helped her don the suicide jacket.
He accompanied her to the Army Headquarters in a hired three-wheeler. She entered the Army Headquarters using the forged visitors pass, while Piribaran headed to the Galle Face Green and waited there awaiting the outcome.
The foursome, Piribaran, Manjula devi, Siddeek and Suriya Kumar used a mobile connection which restricted access to only four of them.
Siddeek was tasked to call Manjula Devi on this line to tip off her of the arrival of Commander’s entourage. He called her exactly at 1.31 pm, when the vehicles were parked. At 1.36, Manjula Devi received another call informing her of the departure of the vehicles.
Bystanders saw, a woman clad in a yellow Shalwar dress under a frangipani tree. With the phone glued to her ear, she swirled to the path of the moving vehicles. In a matter of seconds, she blew her up killing her self and several others. Gen Fonseka survived the attack, but was seriously injured.
Soon after the blast, Piribaran informed Pottu Amman of the news and threw away the mobile phone and the SIM card, thereby erasing any foot prints of the attack. Suriya Kumar threw away the SIM card, but he continued to use the mobile phone.
CID traced back to the mobile phone and arrested Suriya Kumara, who divulged his role of the attack, but did not have much to say about the other collaborators. Piribaran went underground and continued with his macabre career, yet away from the public radar. He continued to work with Siddeek and had found new associates, including a prized one SP Lakshman Cooray.
It took four years for the mysteries of the April 26 bombing to unravel. It was an fortuitous arrest of Piribaran by the sleuths of the Terrorist Investigation Division, that exposed the LTTE’s sleeper cell.
Siddeek and Lakshman Cooray were arrested on the information provided by Piribaran.
Siddeek is alleged to have committed suicide in his prison cell, while Lakshman Cooray is spilling beans on his role in number of successful and abortive terror attacks on VIPs.