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Archive for September 14th, 2009

Intelligence uncovers reports about terrorists in refugee camps secretly being sent abroad to escape…

The troops who continue to track down Tiger stragglers in the East and the South, managed to break up one of their final links in the Trincomalee district last week. Two Tiger big guns Poleelan and Shashyan, who went into hiding in Kovilladdi, Trincomalee to escape being captured, were killed along with six others.
The secret operation which was going on for sometime came to an end last week in the jungles of Kovilladdi when the final six in hiding were killed.

Some other LTTE groups who had been operating in Kumburuppidi, Peraru jungles in Trincomalee had also been killed in operations done by the Navy and Army Intelligence, while the final Wanni battle was going on.
While these operations were going on last week, reports about terrorists in refugee camps being sent overseas in a systematic way came to light. The clandestine operation came to be confirmed after the capture of the private secretary of Tamil Chelvam in the Wellawatte area. A female Tiger agent involved in sending terrorists escaping from IDP camps abroad, was also taken into custody from Chapel Lane, Wellawatte. She was arrested with Rs. 6.5 million in cash, and the investigators are of the opinion that these were monies had been given to her by the Tigers.

The investigations have revealed that Tiger terrorists escaping from IDP camps are brought to Colombo and provided with forged ID’s, passports and visas and then sent to European countries. Their objective is to get these terrorists abroad temporarily. Now the security forces are burdened with finding those in the camps who facilitate their escapes, and those organisations responsible for providing the terrorists with forged documents to go abroad.

Tiger leaders

Whilst Tigers in Europe are interested in getting their key members out of the country, Intelligence have received information that some groups using the name of the LTTE are trying to raise the terrorisms head once more. In this regard it is learnt that European based Tiger agents are trying to form relationships with Tamil groups in and around Colombo.

In the same manner in which the Malaysia based Kumaran Pathmanathan (KP) was nabbed last month, sending shockwaves through the Tiger international network, the Government is looking into the possibility of trying the same with other LTTE leaders operating from countries like Eritrea, Norway and the USA.

The prime focus is in having the Tiger legal consultant V.Rudrakumar operating from the USA arrested.  Last week addressing foreign media, the outgoing Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona said that the Government would seek assistance from the US Government in this regard.

The Government is also focussed on Eritrea after the disclosures made by KP in custody. According to him there are ten light aircrafts purchased by Tigers still stashed away in its capital Asmara. The LTTE also uses Eritrea as a centre for its gun running. It is these revelations that shifted the government’s focus to that country.

Eritrea which was a province of Ethiopia, close to the Horn of Africa, broke away from that country after a bitter struggle. It also borders the Red Sea,Ethiopia and the troubled Somalia.

Eritrea

Since 2007, before any International Community knew about their new arms tentacles, Eritrea had come to be used by the LTTE for gun running.
The Intelligence had been in the know that Aiyyar (Thurairajah) KP’s deputy had arms dealings with Eritrea.

With the idea of countering the Tiger arms operations in Eritrea, the Government has commenced diplomatic relations with that country. As done in Malaysia by posting  Maj. Gen. Udaya Perera as the country’s ambassador to stall Tiger activity there, the Director of Military Intelligence Maj. Gen. Amal Karunasekera will now  be sent to Eritrea as Sri Lanka’s envoy to Asmara.

In the manner KP was able to be taken into custody in Malaysia, it is hoped that all Tiger arms dealings with Eritrea would also be revealed in the near future. Similarly the former Commander of the 57 Division Maj. Gen. Jagath Dias was recently sent to Germany as the deputy ambassador to counter Tiger activity there.

International activists

During the final battle, it was the Tiger international activists who were responsible for the agitations against the Sri Lankan Government. The Government of Norway took great pains to hamper the SL Government operations against the Tiger terrorists standing together with them espousing their cause.

The Czech company, that supplies the Sri Lankan Government arms, was here on a visit last week and its heads informed the Government that the Norwegians, and the Swedes did their best to stop arms shipments to Sri Lanka. Due to pressure brought upon them via the European Union, the Czechs were unable to supply us with arms after January 2009.

Channel 1V

The efforts of the International activists, to discredit  Sri Lankan Armed forces with a concocted video of soldiers summarily executing purportedly unarmed captured men, first shown on British channel 4, followed by various other western TV stations had come a cropper. The Norwegian Government and officials of certain other countries had vehemently and vividly sought action against Sri Lankan Government based on this video.
The Sri Lankan Governments experts proved that the video cassette had been a concocted one.

Task Forces elevated

The Army’s Task Forces IV, V and  VIII that were formed to finish off the war in the Wanni early this year are now due to be elevated to Divisions. In addition to these three new Divisions, a fourth will also be raised.
Meanwhile Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa toured Wanni on Friday (11). Army Commander Lt. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya accompanied him on this tour.

On arrival in Mulaitivu, the Defence Secretary had been accorded a March Past by the Ninth Gajaba Regiment.  Incidentally Gajaba is his old regiment. There after he had toured Pudumattalan region where the final battle took place. Here he had addressed the troops of 59 Division, Task Force VIII and Task Force II and told them he would always look into their welfare and also make every  effort to rebuild the lives of  those brave soldiers who have become disabled. The Commander of Kilinochchi Maj. Gen. Athula Jayawardana and Commander Mullaitivu Maj. Gen. Nandana Udawatta were also present on the occasion.

The Chief of Defence, Staff Gen. Sarath Fonseka also toured the Eastern Front the same day (11.) Here along with the Eastern Commander Maj. Gen Srinath Rajapakse and other Commanders, he looked into the future security needs of the region.

De-mining

In the meantime Army has made arrangements to hand back to farmers about two thousand acres of paddy land after de-mining the entire area around Yoda weva, in Mannar. In accordance with the directions of the Northern  Governor Maj. Gen. G.A.Chandrasiri 35 villages have been ear marked for resettlement and cultivation in these areas by September 25. Additionally another 2000 acres in Araly and 4000 more acres in Musali, Silawaturai are ready to be given out for cultivation.

Parallel to the de-mining  programme  west of the A-9 highway is a similar programme being carried out by the forces in  the Wanni. The Police Special Task Force alone has  removed 26,734 anti-personnel mines from  the Omanthai – Welioya road.
This week also saw 9994 persons being given permission to leave IDP camps to resettle in their own villages. People from Jaffna, Baticoloa, Amparai and Trincomalee have been thus allowed to go back to their original places.

Intelligence personnel attached to 56 Division commanded by Brig. Priyantha Napagoda recovered on Wednesday(09) 450 kilos of explosives from Pudukudyiruppu. In addition to the haul of explosives, two machine guns, two Claymore bombs, and two T 56 weapons were also recovered. They had been buried in a crater created by a bomb dropped by the air force so as not to attract any attention. The discovery was made on a tip off given by a captured Tiger cadre.

On the same day troops of the Task Force VIII commanded by Brig. G.V.Ravipriya recovered 32 pistols, 18 T-56 weapons and 3 sniper rifles and a haul of bullets.

(The Nation)

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Sri Lanka will open a diplomatic mission in an unlikely destination— in Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, one party totalitarian state of five (5) million people, which broke away from Ethiopia after the ouster of the Soviet -backed dictator of Ethiopia, Mengistu Haile Mariam.

Asmara’s crumbling Italian architecture, which colonial Italy built in 1930s, and now considered to be a world architectural heritage is reported to be a concern of the UNESCO.

The other reason which brings Eritrea into the spotlight is far more worrisome: The East African country is accused of harbouring and sponsoring a plethora of terrorist groups worldwide, including the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. (See box)

Selvarasa Pathmanatthan alias Kumaran Pathmanathan (KP), the chief procurer of the LTTE’s arms smuggling wing has shed insights into the LTTE’s Eritrean connection, which has been long suspected and was also mentioned in an US Foreign Relations Committee Report in December 2006.

KP has told that an LTTE owned business venture is entrusted with the operations of the International Airport in Asmara and that during the last leg of the war, it had been planned to smuggle the leader of the LTTE, Velupillai Prabhakaran to Eritrea. What stopped the plan being put into action, he claimed, was the assurance made by the Diaspora lobbyists to secure a ceasefire, for which they campaigned hard, yet fell short of success.
Prabhakaran is believed to have built a special rapport with President Isaias Afewerki of Eritrea, the former Rebel leader of Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front.

Prabhakaran sent a personally signed fax to President Isaias Afewerki on 24 May, 2006, communicating directly with a Head of State, according to Shanaka Jayasekara, a Terrorism Researcher at the Centre for Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism (PICT) at Macquarie University, Australia. A copy of the fax is available with an Asian intelligence agency, says Jayasekara.

KP had confessed that LTTE maintained a close relationship with the higher authorities of Eritrea. The East African country is believed to have functioned as a transshipment base for the LTTE as well as a safe haven for the key operators of the arms smuggling network.

End- user certificates

It is widely believed that most end- user certificates which the LTTE used to procure arms originated from Eritrea and Burma. The serial numbers of the Chinese made medium caliber weapons unearthed from the East had been traced backed to Burmese end user certificates.

The second in command of the KP Department, Ayyar alias Thurairaja is believed had operated from Eritrea.

The Sri Lankan diplomatic mission would be entrusted with tackling the LTTE operations in Eritrea. Director of the Directorate of Military Intelligence Major General Amal Karunasekara is tipped to be Sri Lanka’s envoy to Eritrea. Other nominees are expected to be finalized this week- and would come mainly from the ranks of the armed forces.

The latest diplomatic cum intelligence overture comes in the wake of another successful mission of this sort, which netted the new leader and head of the LTTE’s arms smuggling wing Kumaran Pathmanathan.
Operation KP was handled by another military man, Udaya Perera, former Director Operations of Army who was posted to Kuala Lampur for the specific mission.

Having decimated the LTTE at home, the government has extended its hunt to the international network of the LTTE.

Extradition

Several weeks back, we reported the government’s decision to demand the extradition of three leading LTTE activists in the United States, Gnananakkan brothers -Charles and Jayantha Gnananakkan and LTTE’s legal advisor, V Rudrakumar. The government is now considering making a formal extradition request for Rudrakumar, who also represented the LTTE in the peace talks.

LTTE’s international network is well institutionalized and is still intact, despite the decimation of the LTTE at home.

Shanaka Jayasekara, for instance, says: “The LTTE is known to have a presence in over 44 countries. The LTTE has established a structured presence in 12 countries, which are considered to be the top-level contributing countries to the LTTE. The LTTE has designated a country representative in each of the 12 countries. The leadership in each country receives instructions on all aspects of overseas operations from the LTTE international co-ordination centre in Kilinochchi. The overseas leadership disseminates its dictates and authority through the Tamil co-ordination comates in the respective countries”

Intelligence war

What, in fact, has prompted the government to speed up the campaign against the overseas LTTE is the fear that the overseas network would act as a catalyst in re-organizing the LTTE, by financing the next phase of the Eelam struggle.

Intelligence sources confide that they have intercepted several satellite phone calls made by Aiyanna, an overseas operative of the LTTE. Aiyanna Group is also the name of the LTTE’s overseas intelligence unit, which monitors and coordinates fund raising activities in the West.

According to the intercepted satellite communications, Aiyanna had contacted an LTTE sleeper in Colombo and another operative in Jaffna. Calling the sleeper cadre in Colombo, Aiyanna had advised him not to give up the fight and prepare for the next phase of the struggle. He had however cautioned against rushing up for attacks, cautioning that it could trigger a manhunt in Colombo.

The message, said sources who intercepted the communication was “wait till the right moment”.

In the second instance, Aiyanna had instructed the Tiger operative in Jaffna to resume fund raising in the peninsula from the business ventures and people who would volunteer for donation, there by keeping a low key status for the operations.

These developments and emboldened military hunt suggest that LTTE’s once overt fund raising activities would likely to become more secretive, both in Sri Lanka and abroad. As we wrote in an earlier column, the Eelam war, which was once fought on the battle field, has now transformed into an intelligence war.

“LTTE had links with Taliban, operated a safe house in Peshawar”

Did LTTE have a hand in the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore?.
Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani says that he had been told by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa that the attack on March 3, this year, may have been masterminded by the LTTE. Gilani said he was informed about this by President Rajapaksa during a recent visit to Libya.
“The Sri Lankan president told me that they have clues that the attack on the team was funded from Sri Lanka and that some finances had been made from Sri Lanka to Pakistan,” Gilani said. “We are sending interior ministry officials to Sri Lanka to get the clues that could help us to get to the attack on the cricket team.” Mr Gilani is on record as saying.

This is an unexpected twist to a story which has been at the centre of controversy.

Pakistan earlier accused Indian Intelligence Service, Research and Analysis Wing of training and arming the attackers, the charges were later retracted.

Jihadification

The Sri Lankan president’s claims substantiated or not would extricate Pakistan from some of the blame of the attack. Pakistan is a victim of its own making, which made “jihadification,” – arming Islamic armed groups- a strategic imperative, partly as a deterrent to India. Pakistan is not at war with Pakistani Taliban, which is accused of the attack on Sri Lankan cricketers.

President’s revelations would offer a diversion from the bitter reality. However, not all are surprised if there is an LTTE link with Pakistani Taliban.
Rohan Gunaratna, Professor of security studies at the Rajaratnam School of International Studies and the Head of International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism (ICPTVR), in an email interview claims that it is very much possible that the LTTE had a hand in the attack.

He says the LTTE maintained contacts with the Taliban and even operated a safe house in Peshawar.

Shanaka Jayasekara, a terrorism researcher based in Sydney claims that officials of an “Asian security agency” believe KP head of the LTTE procurement unit traveled from Bangkok through Karachi to Kabul on 19 May, 2001 and had meetings with Taliban officials on matters relating to the Sharjah network.

The Sharjah network is an arms supply network run by the infamous Russian arms dealer Victor Bout, who had operated 3-4 flights daily to Kabul to transport arms.

Jayasekara adds that at the same time, the LTTE operated a cargo company in Dubai, 17 km from the offices of the Sharjah network. The company was named Otharad Cargo, headed by Daya the younger sibling of Nithi, a Canadian based member of the LTTE’s KP Unit. Otharad Cargo is believed to have acquired several consignments of military hardware as part of consolidated purchase arrangements with the Taliban’s Sharjah network.

Jayasekara also claims that “Information recovered from a Laptop Computer of a LTTE procurement agent now in the custody of a Western country has provided detailed information on LTTE activities in Pakistan.

The LTTE had registered a front company in Karachi which had procured several consignments of weapons for the LTTE and several other Pakistani groups. A shipment of weapons procured by this front company and en-route to Sri Lankan waters was intercepted by the Sri Lanka Navy and destroyed in September 2007.”

Logistics support

Brian Joyce in an article in the Jane’s Intelligence in November 2002 on Terrorist Financing in South Asia states that, the LTTE shipping fleet provided logistics support to Harakat-al Mujahideen, a Pakistani militant group with Al Qaeda affiliations to transport a consignment of weapons to the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in the Philippines.

The LTTE used a merchant vessel registered by a front company in Lattakia, Syria until 2002, to service most of the grey/black charters.

Eritrea’s terrorist ties

US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Report on December 15, 2006 revealed that Eritrea was providing direct military assistance to LTTE.
Although the report did not specifically identify the military assistance given to the LTTE, it had confirmed the direct link between the LTTE and Eritrea.
Excerpt from East African, September 3, 2009:

“Two senior Obama administration officials have warned that Eritrea could face severe punishment if it does not halt its alleged arms shipments to an Islamist terrorist group in Somalia.

Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said last week, that the Obama team is “deeply concerned and very frustrated” with Eritrea’s support for Al Shabaab fighters who are trying to overthrow the Somali government. “It is unacceptable, and we will not tolerate it, nor will other members of the Security Council,” Ms Rice told the US House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee. Her comments were echoed a day later by Johnnie Carson, the State Department’s top Africa official.

Briefing reporters on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s seven-nation tour of Africa this week, Mr Carson accused Eritrean leaders of acting as “spoilers” in Somalia, adding, “Time is running out on Eritrea.”Ms Rice indicated that the US will seek the backing of the UN and African organisations for sanctions against Eritrea if it does not signal a change in its behaviour regarding Somalia. The Bush administration said in 2007 that it was considering designating Eritrea as a state sponsor of terrorism. Such a move would result in imposition of unilateral US sanctions against Eritrea.’’

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