Saturday, September 29, 2007

LTTE and their Inhuman tactics

3 LTTE boats destroyed, 4 more damaged By Navy

Sri Lankan military says it sank 3 Tamil Tiger boats in lengthy sea battle

Naval attack craft waged a three-hour sea battle with 20 Tamil Tiger boats off the eastern coast of Sri Lanka on Friday, sinking three of the rebels' vessels and killing one of their top naval commanders, the military said.

The battle, which also killed one navy sailor, came as fighting between the two sides near the Tamil Tigers' de facto state in northern Sri Lanka has escalated in recent days, leaving more than 60 rebels dead, according to the military.

The details of the clash could not be independently confirmed and rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan could not immediately be reached for comment.

The naval battle began about 11 p.m. Thursday as 20 boats from the rebels' navy, known as the Sea Tigers, headed toward Pulmoddai, about 25 miles north of the eastern city of Trincomalee, a military official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

The rebel boats were apparently trying to stage a mass evacuation of rebel fighters who were trapped in nearby jungles after a government offensive earlier this year recaptured the east from the Tamil Tigers, the official said.

Naval attack craft cut off the rebel boats, sparking a lengthy sea battle that led to the sinking of three rebel vessels, the official said. Military intelligence said it had intercepted rebel reports indicating that a top rebel officer, Lt. Col. Nishan Than, was among those killed, the official said.

One Sri Lankan sailor was also killed in the battle and another was injured, the official said.

Fighting along the front lines separating government-controlled territory and the rebels' ministate in the north has increased in recent days, with the military saying Thursday that 25 rebels, three civilians and one soldier had been killed in two days of fighting across the area.

The casualties could not be independently confirmed, but the rebels said the military was exaggerating their death toll.

The two sides have been fighting for more than two decades, with the Tigers demanding an independent homeland for minority Tamils in the northeast and the government, dominated by the Sinhalese majority, insisting that the country remain unified under a strong central government.

More than 70,000 people have been killed in the fighting, 5,000 of them since a 2002 cease-fire broke down nearly two years ago.

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Pulmoddai Seas: Navy's Famous Hunting Grounds: Another Tiger Evacuation Attempt thwarted

The Sri Lanka Navy's elite fighting squadron successfully averted another attempt by the sea tigers to evacuate their cadres trapped in the Peraru/Kumburupiddi Jungles in the Trincomalee district after a fierce battle which started around 10.30 p.m. last night (27) and lasted nearly four hours in the Pulmoddai seas.

Navy destroyed three (03) sea tiger boats killing around eighteen (18) sea tiger cadres including a self styled Lieutenant Colonel named "Nishnathan".

One sailor who was on the shore was killed while another suffered injuries. No damages were reported to any of the FACs.

The naval patrol craft on surveillance duties detected few echoes appearing on their Radar displays from Nayaru area. All sea units were alerted and message was sent to both Eastern and Northern naval commands keeping the naval headquarters operations room informed. Naval units observed around twenty (20) sea tiger boats moving South hugging the coast. FACs then blocked the sea tiger move off Pulmoddai area and confronted them fiercely. Meanwhile, the naval intelligence units intercepted tiger communications between a group of ground cadres and sea tiger units. The shore detachments of the Navy which stretches along the coast North of Trincomalee too stood by to cut off any ground movements of the tiger cadres who are believed to be trapped in the Peraru jungles after their defeat in areas South of Trincomlaee.

During this year alone, LTTE had made four attempts to evacuate their trapped cadre along this route.

On 12th February, sea tigers launched their boats towards Poduwakattu area, but the Navy's Fast Attack Craft averted their mission by destroying one sea tiger boat along with cadres.

Once again on 27th February, another such attempt was thwarted by the Navy when they attacked and destroyed two (02) sea tiger boats off Pulmoddai.

Tigers failed again on 12th August when they were turn back and send with heavy damages after destroying a sea tiger boat.

The latest incidents record as the biggest lost for the sea tigers in attempting to evacuate their trapped cadres in Peraru jungle areas. It is important to note that though the tigers are said to be completely washed from the East, they have made their way towards the Peraru jungles through ground tracks. What are we going to do to them now? The possible option remains as to hunt them down before they make the next attempt for their desperate evacuation attempt in order to gather cadres to face a possible northern thrust by the Security Forces.


UNP leader admits to Karuna Group support in Daily Mirror interview

In an interview published in The Daily Mirror on 8 November, journalist Champika Liyanaarachchi spoke with UNP Member of Parliament, Milinda Moragoda, to discuss Ranil Wickremesinghe’s presidential campaign. Moragoda confirmed that the UNP was behind the creation of the Karuna Group stating, “Karuna is a product of the peace process for which the UNP had made the bulk of the contributions.”

Moragoda implied the ceasefire agreement and peace process’ goal is to weaken the LTTE and disagreed with the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) that the disarmament of paramilitary groups is violation of the ceasefire agreement.

When asked about the fate of the Karuna Group in the event of Wickremesinghe’s win, Moragoda claimed that the Karuna Group was a product of the peace process of which the UNP was instrumental in creating. Moragoda asserted that the government delegation of the peace talks predicted the creation of Karuna Group. Fellow UNP leader Naveen Dissanayake also claimed in a recent campaign speech in Hatton that UNP created the Karuna faction.

Moragoda spoke about Wickremesinghe “creating the right environment” so “even a cadre who had seen all these positive changes would think twice because he has been offered an alternative to their resolve to die for a cause.” Moragoda insinuated that the “right environment” is one which undermines the people’s resolve to struggle. Moragoda claimed that the role of the peace process and “silencing guns, opening roads and removing barricades” will weaken the LTTE, and not offer any means that will engage them in the peace process. In addition to his statements on weakening the LTTE, Moragoda acknowledged their role in “intercepting (destroying) several LTTE ships with the help of an international intelligence network.” He added that the SLA will not be downsized and in fact will be built up by acquiring more human and material resources.

In discussing the implementation of disarming paramilitary groups, Moragoda referred to this as a “law and order issue than anything else,” and disregarded paramilitary presence as a ceasefire violation. The SLMM has recently urged the government to disband paramilitary groups working in government controlled areas. In declaring Wickremesinghe’s importance of being “guided by a certain set of values based on the local culture,” Moragoda compared Wickremesinghe to the liking of U.S. President George Bush, pointing out that “the conservative values of President George Bush more than anything else that assured his re-election.”


Army begins the march to secure vital supply route

A day before President Mahinda Rajapaksa reiterated to world leaders that his main objective is to arrive at an honorable settlement to the three decade long conflict after militarily defeating the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) the Sri Lanka Amy launched the first offensive of its final series of battles to capture remaining Tamil Tiger controlled areas.

Operation Edibala

Operation ‘Edibala’, which was launched to secure the Mannar-Vavuniya main supply route, commenced on February 4, 1997 with troops of the Army's 53 division with commandos and the Air Mobile Brigade participating. The troops moved out of Poovarasankulam the furthest point west of the Vavuniya defences under the control of the security forces.

The operation was led by then General Officer Commanding of the 53 Division Brigadier Wasantha Perera and his Deputy, Brig. Nanda Mallawaratchi, both frontline infantry officers.

Whilst the troops advanced westwards from Vavuniya consolidated their positions in Murunkan the Five Brigade began their advance from Mannar eastwards towards Vavuniya and linked up thus completing the Vavuniya to Mannar MSR (main supply route).

The Sri Lankan National Guard, the Commando Brigade led by Lt. Col. Chandrawansa, Air Mobile Brigade led by Col. Sivali Wanigasekera and the 20th Brigade led by Lt. Col. Sunil de Silva, were involved in the operation. Major General Patrick Fernando, General Officer Commanding Task Force Two, was in charge of Operation Edibala while the Overall Operations Commander was Major General Asoka Jayawardena.

The Army along with the Navy, Air Force and the Police, launched the latest offensive in two directions to secure some strategically important areas in the North of Mannar and North of Vavuniya.

On Sunday evening, the Commando Regiment and the Task Force-01 led by Brigadier Charlie Gallage, who guided these same units to capture the eastern province’s last rebel stronghold Thoppigala few months ago, began moving from Adampan area towards the rebel-held west side of the Yoda Wewa north of Mannar.

Before launching the offensive last Sunday the LTTE could easily monitor military and other civilian movements along the Mannar-Vavuniya Main Supply Route from areas under their control. This was one of the main purposes to launch this military operationOn the other hand there is also an argument that with the opening of the Vavuniya-Mannar axis there is potential to extend those operations to open a main supply route (MSR) northwards through Illupaikaduwai, Pooneryn to Jaffna across the Sangupiddy ferry.

With the commencement of the operation, the LTTE put up heavy resistance and troops had to go through a heavily mined area. Three Commandos were killed and 22 injured on the first day alone. However troops continued to advance despite LTTE resistance. By Tuesday the advancing troops were able to capture the LTTE Forward Defence Lines (FDLs) after fierce fighting. During that period there was heavy artillery and mortar fire between the two parties and the military had to use Multi-Barrel Rocket Launchers at LTTE targets. But considering earlier occasions, the LTTE had not fired much artillery this time around.

The Military believe that the LTTE is now facing a critical shortage of artillery shells and instructions have been issued by the LTTE leadership to minimize using artillery shells and such heavy weapons.

Since the capture of Tiger FDLs the troops started to consolidate the newly taken areas while moving further towards Vedithalathivu, which is the LTTE’s last stronghold used to smuggle weapons and drugs from the sea west of Sri Lanka. In the meantime, Commandos and Task Force-01 members were further moving towards the Yoda Wewa where the LTTE had a heavy presence. This was the first occasion that the Sri Lanka military moved towards north of Mannar since capturing the Mannar-Vavuniya MSR by ‘Operation Edibala’ in 1997(See box for detail history).

Since then, there were no major offensives launched towards North of Mannar until last Sunday.

While the Commandos and Task Force-01 troops were advancing towards north of Mannar, infantry units based at the 573 Brigade Headquarters in Palamoddai West of Omanthai, where both sides are manning respective entry/exit points, launched a fresh offensive towards Vilaththikulam on Monday, surprising the LTTE leadership.

The operation was launched under the direction of Colonel P. Gamage – Brigade Commander of the 573. Troops from the 6 Vijayaba Infantry Regiment (VIR), 8 Gemunu Regiment (GR) and 4 Sinha Regiment (SR) took part in this operation. As usual the Tigers had laid a carpet of mines in front of their FDLs in order to block the military’s advance. On the previous night Commanding Officers of each unit had a discussion with the Brigade Commander about their operation the next day. This time the senior officers wanted to launch an unusual offensive in order to capture Vilaththikulam area, where the Tigers had a line of heavily fortified bunkers.

Before dawn, the troops started to move from Palamoddai Army base towards Vilaththikulam, but the movement was suddenly diverted to south west and south east of Vilatththikulam as planned. Then the moving troops started to go further north bypassing Vilaththikulam area and finally they arrived just north of Vilaththikulam. But the LTTE was waiting for the troops to come from South of Vilaththikulam.

By Tuesday, the military launched a massive onslaught against the Tigers taking them by surprise. Fierce fighting broke out between the two parties until the Tigers started fleeing the area.

Following the battle the LTTE deaths had risen to more than 20 and also the injured were more than 40. Troops also suffered four deaths and nearly twenty had been wounded.

However, the exact death toll of the Tigers was not known as the LTTE communications intercepted by the military had revealed that a large number of LTTE cadres were killed and an equal number were wounded.

So far the troops advanced more than three kilometres as the Tigers withdrew further to northern areas including Punchiparanthan. The same communication also revealed that a Senior LTTE area Leader named ‘Ravi’ and his group had gone missing with the breaking of fighting in the area. However until now the Tigers had been constantly trying to locate him dead or alive, as he was believed to be a top LTTE leader, tiger communications had revealed.

Advancing troops also found a large number of cells, just behind the LTTE FDLs used by them to detain and punish fleeing LTTE cadres.

Reports claim that a large number of such LTTE cadres had been kept in these cells when they had tried to escape after fearing for their lives. It is also evident that the LTTE was forcibly recruiting youth after taking their parents into custody.Intercepted LTTE communications also revealed that the LTTE was engaging in setting up medical treatment centres near their FDLs in North of Mannar and North West of Omanthai in order to treat their wounded cadres. Intelligence reports revealed that a large number of wounded LTTE cadres were getting treatment at Kilinochchi and Mallavi hospitals.

Meanwhile after fighting commenced the LTTE leadership called most of the LTTE leaders to North of Mannar, the Madhu area and the area north of Vavuniya fearing the military would further advance towards the rebel held areas.

The LTTE’s ‘Colonel’ Ramesh, one time Batticaloa and Ampara Special Commander and the Second in chief of the then LTTE eastern military Leader Karuna Amman, is also now in the area north of Mannar. Intelligence reports said that most of the cadres in these areas now were cadres who had fled the east a few months ago.

Meanwhile, the latest military intelligence report revealed that the LTTE had deployed about 4000 cadres in their Wanni FDLs while almost all the political cadres had been called for the fighting. These political cadres are now reportedly based in and around Pooneryn under the leadership of LTTE’s Political Head S.P. Thamilchelvam.

The intelligent report had also confirmed that some 1800 cadres have been deployed along the Muhamalai FDL, while 1000 cadres were assigned to the LTTE’s Radha Regiment, which was established to provide security to LTTE Leader Velupillai Prabhakaran. The current strength of the Sea Tiger wing is estimated at 1200 cadres.

In another development, a Commanding Officer of one of the Infantry units that taking part in the military operation in West of Omanthai has been removed with immediate effect for failing to carry out an assigned task during the operation. Currently the second in Command of the unit is commanding it. However no details are available about the latest removal.

LTTE death toll rises
A total of 80 LTTE cadres were killed within a period of one week, as the LTTE had intensified minor scale infiltration attempts at the northern defences at Nagarkovil, Kilaly and Muhamalai recently, with the intention of targeting strategic military locations.

During the last week, the LTTE made at least four attempts to infiltrate the Muhamalai FDL, while three attempts were made in Vavunia and two attempts in Welioya. However most of the time LTTE elements attempting to breach the army defence lines had fled the scene following effective counter attacks from troops.

In most instances they had got killed when they tried to infiltrate the military FDLs in Vavuniya, Muhamalai and Welioya.


Senior LTTE leader killed in shooting incident-Trincomalee

A senior LTTE leader identified as Kandeepan was killed in a shooting incident that took place in the Sallisambalthvu area in Trincomalee around 11 a.m. this morning (September 28) said the defence sources.

Sources further said that an internal clash in LTTE might have caused the killing. Kandeepan was believed to be the leader of the LTTE gang which is responsible for covert operations in the Trincomalee district. The mission of the terrorist gang is to cripple the normalcy in East province which was liberated by the security forces recently, the sources added.

On Saturday (September 22) , LTTE terrorists believed to be led by Kandeepan detonated a claymore mine targeting a privately owned bus killing one civilian and injuring two others.


Warplanes hit Tiger territory

Sri Lankan military jets pounded a suspected Tamil Tiger rebel training base in the north of the island on Saturday, the defence ministry said.

"A combined air raid of MiG-27 and Kfir fighter jets launched at 8:10 am (0240 GMT) accurately hit the terrorists' training camp, which is known as L2," the ministry said in a statement.

It gave no details of any casualties and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam had no immediate comment on the bombing raid, said to have taken place near Puthukudiriruppu, a village inside the mini-state run by the guerrillas.

Security forces have stepped up bombing raids inside rebel-held territory in recent weeks ahead of monsoon rains, which usually slow down fighting.

More than 5,400 people have been killed in the fighting in the past 21 months following the breakdown of a Norwegian-brokered truce.


Significant change in LTTE strategy

As the LTTE was losing their credibility and support recruitment to the LTTE has gone down in numbers. It is reported that LTTE is trying to use their supporters abroad to canvas their cause. This was revealed at the media briefing held in Colombo today (28).

Navy Spokesman D.K.P. Dassanayake went on to say that the LTTE had suffered heavy naval losses in the recent past. While the Pulmudai battle erupted yesterday (27) and destroyed 3 LTTE yachts and damaged four others. A land combat at the same time had killed one naval officer and injured another.

In the debris found of the damaged ships were claymores and light weapons among other items. The Navy Spokesman completely denied the LTTE’s statement on an attack on the naval vessels or destruction of any.

"All strikes against the LTTE were successfully accomplished" he added.


WFP desperately seeks funds

The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) yesterday made an urgent appaeal for more funds to distribute among thousands of internally displaced people in the Jaffna peninsula.

“I am concerned about our resourcing situations as we will be running out of food in November,” Jean-Yves Lequime, acting country director of the WFP in Colombo said yesterday.

Claiming that US$ 8 million is required to meet needs till the end of December he said this was the moment to mobilize food for the vulnerable people.”

While welcoming the shipment of 3,500 tons of food for Jaffna that will be distributed by the Government and WFP to persons and families among the most vulnerable populations in the isolated peninsula, the WFP said it faced a shortfall for its protracted relief and recovery operation (PRRO), “Assistance to Vulnerable Groups for Peace Building in Conflict and Tsunami Affected areas”:

The WFP also faces a shortfall of US$ 1.7 million for its two Special Operations, augmentation of logistics capacity, and UN Humanitarian Air Service.

WFP appeals for new contributions to build on recent positive developments and to reach destitute people desperately in need of support, the WFP said in a statement.

Commending on the government assistance to provide food to the peninsula, Jean-Yves Lequime said “With these first two shipments, WFP will be able to feed some 120,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and economically affected people in Jaffna over the next two months. It will also allow WFP to resume its school feeding and maternal and child health and nutrition projects.”


42 surrender - Who and why?

The new military spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara yesterday said some 42 “LTTE cadres” surrendered to the Jaffna Human Rights Commission during the past few weeks. An official at the Human Rights Commission office in Colombo however said that those who surrendered to the Jaffna office were youth who feared abduction or recruitment by the LTTE.

“Most of those who surrender or are handed over by their parents are those who fear the LTTE. We hand them over to the police who in turn produce them before the magistrate,” the official said.

Jaffna sources said that people who hand themselves over to the Jaffna HRC are produced before the magistrate and remanded as there is no “protective” place to keep the civilians who are seeking security from the LTTE and other actors.

“These people are not LTTE and cannot be termed as such,” the source said.

The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission in its weekly security assessment reports has also been reporting such surrendering taking place, but has not referred to them as being LTTE cadres.

“On September 10, seven men aged 20-35 surrendered to the police in Jaffna, with the help of the Human Rights Commission (HRC) due to fear for their lives,” the SLMM said.

In his first public appearance since his appointment as the new military spokesman in place of Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe who is being posted to the Sri Lankan high commission in Britain -- Brigadier Nanayakara said LTTE cadres were deserting their ranks due to their recent losses.

He said rebels were trying to secure their remaining territory in the North following heavy loses in the east and this has resulted in fierce, almost daily, battles at Northern Forward Defence Lines.

The SLMM recently announced that an international monitor would be located at its office in Jaffna on a permanent basis. Although the SLMM office in Jaffna has been opened, it had been manned by SLMM's local staff with international monitors traveling to Jaffna regularly.


The failed attempt of fooling the UN

The United Nations General Assembly is undoubtedly the most significant forum to canvass international support. Whatever criticism is directed against its functions, the UN remains the most crucial global supporter to smaller countries like Sri Lanka. Its mandate and directives are essential for the general ‘well being’ of countries like Sri Lanka. There is a lot to be had of the UN if you play your cards right.

Unfortunately, the Sri Lankan delegation to the UN this week left much undone. The government of Sri Lanka had a greater responsibility in attending the United Nations General Assembly, than just trying to play to the gallery by speaking in Sinhala. While Sinhala remains one of the oldest languages in the world, and indeed one to be proud of, more was expected of the government than winning votes back home. Its presence at the assembly this year around was not happening under the most desirous of conditions.

Hammered left, right and centre with serious charges of human rights violations, abductions, extra judiciary killings and thousands left homeless, the government had few on its side before the Assembly.

Following closely on the government’s treatment of the UN Under Secretary General Sir Holmes and the UN Special Rapporteur on Summary and Arbitrary Executions Philip Alston, there was much to answer for. In the inability of none other than the Premier and a senior Cabinet Minister to differentiate between a UN official and a terrorist, we had done serious damage to diplomacy and protocol.

The Ashton report released just days before the sessions commenced, also gave a damning indictment on the government. Citing ''a spate of extrajudicial executions'' by the military, paramilitary forces and insurgent groups in Sri Lanka, he expressed concern that we were ‘on the brink of a crisis of major proportions.

"The situation has indeed erupted into crisis and neither the Human Rights Council (in Geneva) nor the General Assembly (in New York) has seen fit to take any action to address the spate of extra-judicial executions being reported out of that country,"Citing correspondence with the Government regarding extrajudicial executions by “home guards”, the Special Rapporteur has responded in part by “stressing the need for strict control of any such auxiliary force by the security forces.

“In view of the experience of other countries, where paramilitary groups are responsible for numerous and grave human rights violations, the Government may wish to consider as a preferable solution strengthening the regular security forces in areas with armed conflict, rather than creating a paramilitary body,” he said.

Diplomatic sources caution the failure of the government delegation in meeting much of these concerns at the sessions. The role of Karuna with regard to killings, extortion and recruitment of children for war, and his links to government security forces fared very badly before the international rights groups. Continued expressions of concern went unheeded by the government, resulting in the Ashton report. The charges are serious and clearly warrant immediate accountability.

The human rights violations by Karuna cadres in the Eastern bastion of Batticaloa did little to the government’s reputation. The absence of armed cadres during the visit of Sir Holmes can hardly be termed an eye wash. The fact remains that the entire district is under the direct authority of Karuna. The Batticaloa district suffers under serious levels of human rights violations, that have systematically failed intervention by the government.

It was clear that the international rights activists were not going to let the government go scot free in the presence of inaction on noted violations. Last week’s report of the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons also charged that the inquiry into 16 grave crimes has failed to comply effectively with international norms and standards.

IIGEP claimed that the role of the Attorney General’s Department in the work of the Commission continued to render the process flawed.

“The presence of the Attorney General’s Department in the Panel of Counsel to the Commission involves ‘serious conflicts of interest’ and lacks transparency and compromises both national and international standards of independence and impartiality that are central to the credibility of and public confidence in the Commission.

‘Since the first investigation into the ACF case on 14 May 2007 only a few witnesses have been examined. No public inquiry has been held and no substantial progress has been made into any of the mandated cases and that the Commission is unlikely to have completed any case before the expiry of the Commission’s mandate in early November 2007,” they added.

It was therefore clear that words were not going to do much before the other international bodies attending the sessions. The EU noted the ‘worrying increase’ in reported abuses under the Government forces, the LTTE and the Karuna faction. They termed targeted civilian killings, extortion and the use of child soldiers as seeing an increase. The governments of Switzerland, Germany, United Kingdom, Netherlands and Amnesty International expressed concern over the situation here.

Switzerland charged that violations either linked or not to the conflict and ‘regardless of their perpetrators’ are aggravated by the culture of impunity in the country. Germany asked the government to ‘redouble’ its efforts to achieve a peacefully negotiated settlement and put an end to ongoing human rights violations allegedly committed by the security forces.

The United Kingdom stressed that those ‘most egregious’ and serious human rights situations set the necessary immediate attention. The Netherlands called upon the government to put an end to impunity and to ‘vigorously’ investigate all human rights abuses and violations in Sri Lanka. Amnesty International maintained that the Government’s ‘persistent’ denial of the severity of the situation and the casting of aspersions on those expressing concern about the situation is unhelpful.

It is in this backdrop that the President most likely failed to convince the international body of sustaining a moral high ground.

‘Don’t use human rightas tool to victimize countries: actions on compliance should be just and equal to all’, said the President. But the question remains if the Rajapaksa administration can afford to talk of justice and equal treatment to the thousands left displaced in the East.

His call for international action to facilitate compliance with human rights standards be ‘fair and even handed’ fall far short of what was desired of his administration.

‘Human rights have to be protected and advanced for their own sake, not for political gain,’ he said. The questioned could be asked, who in effect stood to gain politically by turning a blind eye to the continued violations of the Karuna group. Or the ruse of the Karuna group coming into the political mainstream.

If the President thought that the fight for terrorism should be at any cost, there was little support to be had before the UN. His questioning of the mandate of the UN also held little rationale. ‘Although the UN system has set up mechanisms to deal with many of these problems, the capacity of the UN to address these challenges effectively has been brought into question,’ he said.

Interestingly the President claimed that ‘terrorism anywhere is terrorism. There is nothing good in terrorism.’ Certainly, it becomes imperative that we question the interpretation of the role of Karuna in this context.

It is to date unclear how the government could justify the capture of the East as a victory. Military victories apart, the human tragedy that is the East today, is far from what a democratically elected government can take pride in.

‘We have freed the Eastern Province from terrorism, and restored law and order there,’ said the President. Law and order are far from complimentary in areas with a strong presence of Karuna cadres.

The President spoke of a ‘massive programme of rehabilitation and reconstruction’ launched in the East. He cited proposals to make the Eastern Province ‘a model for development and rehabilitation’. But the ground situation in the East is far from ready for such plans. The government’s failure to make interim plans till this elaborate plan gets off ground has resulted in men, women and children in their thousands living under dire conditions.

Speaking of military victories and a ‘negotiated and honorable end’ to the conflict could not help convince the international community the justification to the government’s present approach. Claims that the All Party Representative Committee is working ‘successfully’ towards it, leaves much to be desired on ground.

While the State media reportage of the Sessions portrayed the government as having played victor at the UN, it is unclear if the mere fact that the President addressed the Assembly in Sinhala, can be considered his work done. Certainly, though the deliverance in Sinhala may win votes back home, such gimmicks rarely have the desired effect in international forums.

This is especially true if your track record is not as impressive as warranted. Rhetoric can hardly do the job where genuine action is called for. And the UN is the last place on earth to try such a fast one.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

STF In Silawathura

A Sri Lankan Special Task Force soldier stands guard during a cordon search operation in the recently captured Tamil rebel territory at Silawathura in Mannar, about 312 km (194 miles) of northwest Colombo, Sri Lanka September 26, 2007.

A Sri Lankan Special Task Force soldier inspects hand grenades found during a cordon search operation in the recently captured Tamil rebel territory at Silawathura in Mannar, about 312 km (194 miles) of northwest Colombo, Sri Lanka September 26 2007.

Sri Lankan Special Task Force soldiers inspect weapons found during a cordon search operation in the recently captured Tamil rebel territory at Silawathura in Mannar, about 312 km (194 miles) of northwest Colombo, Sri Lanka September 26 2007

Sri Lankan Special Task Force soldiers patrol during a cordon search operation in the recently captured Tamil rebel territory at Silawathura in Mannar, about 312 km (194 miles) of northwest Colombo, Sri Lanka September 26, 2007.

Blackwater's Prince Has GOP, Christian Group Ties

With more than $800 million in contracts, Blackwater USA, led by Erik Prince, is among the biggest companies providing armed guards for U.S. officials and government contractors in Iraq.

Prince, the heir to a Michigan auto-parts fortune, has close ties to the Republican Party and conservative Christian groups. He began his career with a stint as an officer in the U.S. Navy SEALs, and co-founded Blackwater in 1997 with other former commandos. His family's wealth made it possible for the then 27-year-old Prince to fund the Blackwater start-up with his own money.

Prince and his firm have drawn scrutiny from members of Congress after Blackwater guards were accused of opening fire on civilians in Baghdad in an incident that left at least nine people dead.

Blackwater has said that its employees were defending a State Department convoy and denied that they had done anything improper, though Prince has made no public statement on the issue. The Iraqi government threatened to expel the company from the country, but after four days, Blackwater was allowed to resume its activities guarding State Department personnel.

Republican, Christian Ties

Prince grew up in Holland, Mich., where his father, Edgar Prince, built Prince Corporation, an auto-parts company that based its success on novel products, such as the lighted vanity mirror for car window visors. The elder Prince was a close friend and supporter of Christian evangelists, such as James Dobson of Focus on the Family, as well as a contributor to the Republican Party. He was an early benefactor of the Family Research Council.

Erik Prince was accepted to the U.S. Naval Academy, but dropped out after three semesters. He later told the Virginia-Pilot newspaper that he loved the Navy but disliked the academy. He finished his schooling at the Christian-oriented Hillsdale College in Michigan.

Prince later rejoined the Navy through Officer Candidate School and qualified for the SEALs. He served about three years, but left the service early after his father's death in 1995. The family sold the business shortly afterward to Johnson Controls for more than $1.3 billion.

Prince has rarely given interviews to the news media. In an email question-and-answer exchange with the Virginia- Pilot in 2006, he wrote that his Navy experience convinced him of the need for a company that could provide advanced training to military personnel and civilian contractors.

The organization rapidly grew into nine companies, providing everything from bomb-sniffing dogs to drone reconnaissance aircraft. Some of the teams that guard U.S. officials in Iraq are provided by Blackwater Security Consultants, which backs them up with helicopters and specially built military-style armored vehicles. The company's light-weight "Little Bird" helicopters, with gunmen hanging out the side doors, are a familiar icon of Blackwater's presence in Baghdad.

Prince has been a steady contributor to the Republican National Committee, giving more than $200,000 since 1998. He also has supported various conservative candidates, including President Bush, Sens. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Rick Santorum (R-PA), Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), and indicted former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX).

Other members of Prince's family have been active in Republican politics. His sister, Betsy DeVos, has served as chair of the Michigan Republican Party, and her husband, Dick DeVos, was an unsuccessful Republican candidate for governor of Michigan in 2006. Dick DeVos, a member of the conservative family that co-founded Amway, succeeded his father as president of that company.

Prince serves as a board member of Christian Freedom International, a nonprofit group that provides Bibles, food and other help to Christians in countries where they face persecution.

Prince's first wife died of cancer in 2003. They had four children together. Prince also has two children with his second wife.


Who Are the Fanatics? By Paul Craig Roberts

President Jimmy Carter was demonized for pointing out in his book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, that there are actually two sides to the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Distinguished American scholars, such as John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt have suffered the same fate for documenting the excessive influence the Israel Lobby has on US foreign policy.

Americans would be astonished at the criticisms in the Israeli press of the Israeli government's policies toward the Palestinians and Arabs generally. In Israel facts are still part of the discussion. If the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, could replace Fox "News," CNN, New York Times and Washington Post, Americans would know the truth about US and Israeli policies in the MIddle East and their likely consequences.

On September 1, Haaretz reported that Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the president of the Union for Reform Judaism, which represents 900 Congregations and 1.5 million Jews, "accused American media, politicians and religious groups of demonizing Islam" and turning Muslims into "satanic figures."

Rabbi Yoffie is certainly correct. In America there is only one side to the issue. An entire industry has been created that is devoted to demonizing Islam. Books abound that misrepresent Islam as the greatest possible threat to Western Civilization and seek to instill fear and hatred of Muslims in Americans. For example, Norman Podhoretz proclaims "World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism." Daniel Pipes shrieks that "Militant Islam Reaches America." Lee Harris warns of "The Suicide of Reason: Radical Islam's Threat to the West."

Think tanks have well-funded Middle East programs, the purpose of which is to spread Islamophobia. Fear and loathing pour out of the Middle East Forum and the American Enterprise Institute.

In the US it is acceptable, even obligatory in many circles, to hate Muslims and to support violence against them. Pipes has been described as a "leading anti-Muslim hate propagandist." He is on record advocating the use of violence alone as the solution to the Muslim problem. This won him the endorsement of the Christian Coalition, AIPAC, and the Zionist Organization of America for appointment to the board of the United States Institute of Peace.
President George Bush used a recess appointment to appoint this man of violence to the Institute of Peace.

Pipes advocates that the Muslims be beaten into submission by force, the view that has guided the Bush administration.To brainwashed and propagandized Americans, Pipes appointment made perfect sense.

Podhoretz believes that Islam has no right to exist, because it is opposed to Israeli territorial expansion, and that America must deracinate Islam, which means to tear Islam up by the roots.

While neoconservatives, Christian Zionists, and the Bush administration embrace unbridled violence against Muslims, Lee Harris warns that America is much too tolerant and reasonable to be able to defend itself against Muslim fanaticism. America's "governing philosophy based on reason, tolerance, consensus and deliberation cannot defend itself against a [Muslim] strategy of ruthless violence."

Islamophobia overflows with such absurdities and contradictions.
Harris tells us that the Enlightenment overcame fanatical thinking in the West, leaving the West unfamiliar with fanaticism and helpless to confront it. Harris, who fancies himself an authority on fanaticism, is deaf, dumb, and blind to Communism and National Socialism and is completely ignorant of the fact that neoconservative fanatics are the direct heirs of the Jacobins of the French Revolution, itself a fanatical product of the Enlightenment.

If Americans did rely on reason, tolerance and deliberation, they might free their minds of shrill propaganda long enough to consider the "Muslim threat." Muslims are disunited. Their disunity makes them a threat to one another, not to the West.

In Iraq most of the fighting and violence is between Sunni and Shi'ite Arabs and between Sunnis and Kurds. If Iraqis were unified, most of the violence, instead of a small part of it, would be directed against the American troops, and the remnants of a US defeated army would have been withdrawn by now. However much Iraqis might hate the American invader and occupier, they do not hate him enough to unite and to drive him out. They had rather kill one another.

Iran, the current focus of demonization, is not Arab. Iranians are the ancient race of Persians. Indeed, Iran would do itself a favor if it changed its name back to Persia. For eight years (1980-1988) the Iranians and Iraqis were locked in catastrophic war with horrendous casualties on both sides. Despite its military exhaustion, Iraq was considered a "threat" by the American Superpower and was bombed and embargoed for the decade of the 1990s, one consequence of which was 500,000 deaths of Iraqi children.

Not content with the complete crippling of Iraq by the Clinton administration, the Bush administration invaded Iraq in 2003 and has been dealing more death and destruction to Iraq ever since.

Palestine has been under Israeli occupation for decades. Israel has simply stolen most of Palestine, and the remaining Palestinian enclaves are ghettos policed by the Israeli army.

The rulers of Saudi Arabia and the oil emirates are Sunni Arabs. They are more afraid of Shi'ite Arabs than of Israelis. Egypt, Jordan, and Pakistan are ruled by bought-and-paid-for American puppets. The Turkish military is also in the American pocket and suppresses any Islamist influence in the civilian government.

Afghanistan is a disunited country of tribal peoples, each holding sway in their area. The Taliban were attempting to unify Afghanistan, and the Bush administration's fear that the Taliban might succeed was the reason for the US invasion of Afghanistan. The US allied with the defeated Northern Alliance, in part a remnant of the old Soviet puppet government, and turned Afghanistan back over to warlords.

When the facts are considered--Muslim disunity and the absence of modern technology, navies, and strategic reach--the Bush/Cheney/neoconservative/Zionist propaganda that "we must fight them over there before they come over here" is such a transparent hoax that it is astounding that so many Americans have fallen for it.

To the extent that there is any Muslim threat, it is one created by the US and Israel. Israel has no diplomacy toward Muslims and relies on violence and coercion. The US has interfered in the internal affairs of Muslim countries during the entire post World War II period. The US overthrew an elected government in Iran and installed the Shah. The US backed Saddam Hussein in his aggression against Iran. The US has kept in power rulers it could control and has pandered to the desires of Israeli governments. If America is hated, America created the hate by its arrogant and dismissive treatment of the Muslim Middle East.

There is no such thing as Islamofascism. This is a coined propaganda word used to inflame the ignorant. There is no factual basis for the hatred that neoconservative Islamophobes instill in Americans. God did not tell America to destroy the Muslims for the Israelis.

In America today blind ignorant hate against Muslims has been brought to a boiling point. The fear and loathing is so great that the American public and its elected representatives in Congress offer scant opposition to the Bush administration's plan to make Iran the third Middle East victim of American aggression in the 21st century.

Most Americans, who Harris believes to be so reasonable, tolerant, and deliberative that they cannot defend themselves, could not care less that one million Iraqis have lost their lives during the American occupation and that an estimated four million Iraqis have been displaced. The total of dead and displaced comes to 20 percent of the Iraqi population. If this is not fanaticism on the part of the Bush administration, what is it? Certainly it is not reason, tolerance, and deliberation.

The Bush supporter will ask, "What about 9/11?" Even those who believe the fraudulent 9/11 Commission Report should understand that in the official account the attack was the work of individuals, none of whom were acting in behalf of Muslim governments and none of whom were Iraqi, Afghan, or Iranian. 9/11 provides no justification for attacking Muslim countries.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at:

Thoppigala –the new symbol of national pride

If the year 2004 was bad for Velupillai Prabhakaran then the year 2005 was worse. The first crack in the seemingly indivisible monolith of the LTTE appeared in April 2004 when Karuna, his most able commander, broke away asserting his own regional rights in the east. There were other factors like personal rivalries as well that made them lock horns. But the underlying factor of regional differences between the northern and eastern Tamils surfaced once again to divide the Tamil separatists.

To create the political fiction of a pan-Tamil movement, stretching like a single unbroken thread from Mannar in the western coast to Kumana in the eastern coast, the eastern Tamils were recruited hastily and opportunistically in the 50s and 60s by the vellahla leadership of Jaffna with offers of some senior positions in the federalist/separatist party. However, it was a movement that never consolidated itself into a rock-solid front of all Tamil-speaking peoples in all regions.

To begin with, the Jaffna Tamils referred to the eastern Tamils as “Batticoloa Tamils” – a label that immediately reduced the status of the “Batticoloa Tamils” below that of the so-called superior “Jaffna Tamils”. But the vellahla elite needed the “Batticoloa Tamils” (and anybody who spoke Tamils, including the estate Tamils and the Muslims of the east) to serve their over-ambitious separatist goals by manipulating mono-ethnic extremism, or better still, Jaffna jingoism.

The vellahla elite went all out to woo the Batticoloa Tamils by throwing some scraps from their table to the lesser Tamil-speaking folk from the east. Prabhakaran too beefed up his dwindling cadres with Batticoloa Tamils who were treated as equal in sharing the anti-Sinhala ideology but not in sharing positions in the Tiger hierarchy. Though he was not a vellahla he handpicked only the Jaffna-based cadres whom he could trust to key positions in his politico-military outfit. The tendency of the separatist movement, whether in the hands of the vellahalas, or the low-caste Tigers, was for the Jaffna-oriented leadership to dominate with other Tamil regionalists playing a secondary role. Consequently, the regional, economic, cultural and caste difference failed to hold them together cohesively for long as one community sharing one political destiny. The vellahlas of the north and the mukkuvars of the east did not see eye to eye on many competing issues.

Colonialism sharpened their differences. For instance, the vellahla Jaffna Tamils dominated the government service and the professional class with high political ambitions of creating a separate state with, of course, the vellahla elite sitting on top of all other Tamil-speaking people. The Batticoloa Tamils, however, were more from the agricultural and fishing communities and their political orientation and ambitions were neither directed nor congruent with the mono-ethnic extremism of the politically driven Jaffna Tamils. Invariably, the Batticoloa Tamils were recruited as aides by the Jaffna Tamils to serve their political ambitions and goals.

These are some of the factors that combined to push Karuna out of Prabhakaran’s grip. When Karuna began to feel the heat of the northern hegemony he complained loudly and quit crying discrimination. Much noise was made then claiming that this split would be the end of Prabhakaran. It didn’t. Despite Karuna’s blow, Prabhakaran was sitting pretty in total control of the political bases in the north and east left intact, thanks to the guarantees of borders underwritten by Ranil Wickremesinghe in his disastrous the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) (2002). In fact, Prabhakaran used the CFA to demand the disarming of Karuna. As for Karuna, he was hoping to build his own base in the east but he did not have the wherewithal to build a formidable base, let alone survive in the east in the east.

In reality, Karuna’s situation became precarious after President Chandrika Kumaratunga accused Wickremesinghe of selling the nation and dismissed him from three key ministries. The nation was hoping that she would reverse Wickremesinghe’s policies. But she did nothing of the sort. The most pragmatic option was to exploit the divisions within the LTTE to strengthen the Sri Lankan forces and to reclaim the arbitrary and illegal hand over of land to Prabhakaran in the CFA. Instead, she ignored military reports detailing the Tamil Tiger incursions into the strategic bases in the east, particularly the areas guarding the mouth of the Trincomalee harbor and turned a blind eye to the Tiger land grab. The cruelest cut, in the fashion of “et tu Brute”, came when she joined hands with the Tigers and opened the passage across Verugal river for the Tigers to attack Karuna’s cadres from the rear, forcing Karuna to retreat and even disband his cadres.

So both Wickremesinghe and Kumaratunga jointly and severally aided and abetted Prabhakaran to consolidate his position in the north and the east and to minimize the impact of Karuna’s breakaway. Apart from the initial shock of the sudden break up of what seemed to be the unbreakable monolith it had no direct bearing on Prabhakaran’s grip on the territories granted to him by Kumaratunga and Wickremesinghe. Clearly, the political equation in the north and the east did not alter one whit even after Karuna broke away because Prabhakaran was sustained by the military and the political backing of Kumaratunga and Wickremesinghe – the two key appeasers of Prabhakaran. Though Kumaratunga protested loudly about not being consulted in the granting of power and land to Prabhakaran under CFA, it was a secret fulfillment of her earlier dream, as she told TIME magazine, to hand over the rule of the north and the east for ten years to Prabhakaran.

Karuna at this stage was almost helpless and looking for a way out. The real impact of his breakaway that made a marked difference in national politics came later under the leadership of Mahinda Rajapakse. (More of it later). The initial impact was more ideological. First, he dealt an irreparable blow to the fictitious claim of Prabhakaran to be ‘the sole representative of all Tamils” and to the myth that he is “liberator” of the Tamils. Second, the pan-Tamil movement, which never took off even under S. J. V. Chelvanayakam, was buried once and for all by Karuna who resented domination by the northern Tamils.

Third, the Tamil propagandists and their NGO fellow-travelers were stunned by Karuna’s accusations of discrimination not against their common enemy, “the Sinhala-dominated government” but against “the Jaffna-dominated” LTTE. It was ironical for the Jaffna-dominated Tigers who thrived on claims of discrimination by the Sinhalese to be accused of discriminating against their own Tamil people.

With this accusation Karuna exposed the hypocrisy of the Jaffna vellahla elite who were guilty of the horripilating crimes of oppression, repression and discrimination of their own hapless low-caste – almost 48% of the Jaffna. This arrogant caste elite covered up the crimes of their Tamil leaders by diverting their politicized research on the Sinhala-Buddhist society. Neelan Tiruchelvam, Radhika Coomaraswamy, Prof. S.J. Tambiah, Poi-kiyana-sothy Saravanamuttu, to mention only a few, belong to this category of intellectual hypocrites who never dared to looked inside the cadjan curtain because it would undermine the rationale of their successful political campaign which projected the Tamils as the “victims” of Sinhala-Buddhist discrimination. They too were reluctant to abandon Prabhakaran – the prime source that generates foreign funds for NGOs -- and did not put in a good word for Karuna. To abandon Prabhakaran was to kill the goose that laid the golden eggs.

So Prabhakaran continued to ride high and in terms of the physical impact – or in terms of hurting where it hurt most – it was not Karuna who did the damage. It was the tsunami of December 2004 that disjointed Prabhakaran. Nature came down in all it fury on the naval and military bases of Prabhakaran as if to remind Wickremesinghe and Kumaratunga that if they were not prepared to do their duty there are other who will. But defying the forces rising against him Prabhakaran decided to go down the elusive path Evil-lam undeterred. Used to his ritual killings (“a pathological killer”, Prof. James Jupp, ANU), most of which were videoed or photographed for him to view at leisure in his Vanni hideout, he feels it a blow to his ego and political status if he stops killings. Nor was he capable of grasping the new realities closing in on him. In hindsight, it is clear that he was heading for disaster.

The biggest blow came in 2005 when he voted to destroy his own future. After taking everything he could get from Wickremesinghe he cynically dismissed him by ordering the Tamils held in his open prison not to vote in the Presidential election of 2005. It is, of course, the greatest service he had ever rendered to save the forces he had been fighting all along. It was suicidal from his point of view though at the time he believed that it was a master stroke to fix the politics of the south.

There is no doubt that Wickremesinghe deserved the mulish kick he got from Prabhakaran. But this single fatal act isolated Prabhakaran politically, diplomatically and militarily. He had already torn to shreds the international contract that elevated him to the status of a supreme commander of all what he surveyed in the north and the east. His last remaining hope was in Wickremesinghe and Kumaratunga. Despite all his bravado, a scrutiny of events will establish that Prabhakaran was invariably saved by the Sinhala leadership -- from Premadasa to Wickremesinghe. But, for reasons best known to him. He decided to send his two best backers in the south into the political wilderness. It was a monumental miscalculations. But he hadn’t yet begun to slide down the greasy pole.

In the meantime, in London the most able salesman of Tamil atrocities and Tamils killings Tamils, Anton Balasingham, was failing in health. He was on his last legs. He used the standard theories available in the ideological market to justify Tamil violence, particularly the brutalities of Prabhakaran. All Tamil violence were justified as a part of the “liberation struggle” and, therefore, valid as against the violence of “the Sinhala-dominated government of Sri Lanka”. Of course, he never lived to answer the question whether Karuna could use the same slogan to “liberate” the eastern Tamils from the domination of the northern Tamils. Though well read his theoretical underpinnings were running out of validity with the escalating crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by his leader, Prabhakaran.

In his last days Balasingham, however, may have had a glimpse of what was coming. He lived to see the devastating impact of his own arguments being rejected out of hand by the international community by turning the screws on the Tiger diaspora. At the negotiating table he was lording it over, with the blessings of his boozing buddy, Erik Solheim, on the assumption that they had parity of status with the Sri Lankan government based on “military balance”. He lived just long enough to witness the battle of Mavil Aru (August 2, 2006) firing at his contentious “military balance” and blowing it to smithereens. But by December 14, 2006 he passed away leaving a gap in the international politics of the Tigers. His absence and silence fitted the new political climate, realities and the needs because everything he worked for was coming apart. His death completed Prabhakaran’s isolation. “Bala Anna” was not there anymore to spin yarns to cover up “Thamby’s” colossal sins.

In their heyday, Prabhakaran and Balasingham were able to strut the international stage, with diplomats queuing up at his door in Vanni, because of the refusal of Wickremesinghe and Kumaratunga to confront Prabhakaran and expose his hollow claims of being militarily invincible. Wickremesinghe – Kumaratunga negotiations were based on the assumption that their national forces did not have the capacity to fight and win. Paralysed by the failures of the past they feared to risk a face-to-face confrontation with Prabhakaran, thus reinforcing the myth of a military giant who must be appeased. Peace negotiations which only moved in the direction of surrender never brought hope to the war-weary Sri Lankans or strength and stability to the Wickremesinghe – Kumaratunga duo who were competing with each other to appease their Sun God, Prabhakaran.

Though this duo was lending their hand to Prabhakaran, Prabhakaran was not helping himself. In a perverse way, he was bent on inflicting wounds to his body politic -- all of which were beginning to take its toll by 2006. He had fire power but obfuscated by obsessive megalomania, he lost the brain power to turn the events that came his way to his advantage. Throughout his career he had risen to considerable heights by hitting indiscriminately in all directions. Violence constituted the be-all and end-all of his politics. But by 2006 he had come to the end of the line of his violent politics. He had to change tack but there was no one to tell him that his day has come and there is no future in violence.

It is in this frame of mind that Prabhakaran prepared to face the presidential elections of November 2005. His calculation was to defeat pro-Western Wickremesinghe, acceptable to the international community, and replace him with his rival, Mahinda Rajapakse, who Prabhakaran thought, would be rejected by the West for his anti-Western, pro-nationalist approach. The media too was projecting Mahinda Rajapakse as “a hardliner” and a pro- Sinhala-Buddhist “chauvinist”. With such adverse factors stacked against Mahinda Rajapakse it was assumed that Prabhakaran would have a cake walk to his next stage of wining Eelam.

In other words, Prabhakaran chose his own opponent in the next rounds of confrontations -- and it was fateful. Not only did he pick Mahinda Rajapakse he was pushing him, needling him, provoking him from the word go, testing his mettle. Rajapakse, who was feeling his way around, reacted cautiously. Wickremesinghe-Kumaratunga duo was waiting in the wings hoping that Rajapakse would fail, opening the way for them to recapture their lost power. Neither Prabhakaran nor the Wickremesinghe-Kumaratunga combination was ready to accept the will, the skill and thrills of what came in the wake of the new Commander-in-Chief, Mahinda Rajapakse, who changed the political map with a finality that is beginning to show the light at the end of the dark tunnel.

It began with Mavil Aru and the BBC announced that the Tigers occupied the high ground and the advancing forces would be sitting ducks for the Tiger marksmen. The diplomatic community was not fully convinced either. Sucked in by superior Tamil propaganda they were expecting the Tigers to give a bloody nose to the Security Forces which would then force the Sri Lankan government to return to the negotiating table. Hardly anyone (except, of course, the courageous and heroic forces) expected the army to move swiftly down from Mavil Aru to Thoppigala within a weeks and clear the east.

When that victorious day dawned President Mahinda Rajapakse was not the only proud Sri Lankan sitting on top of Thoppigala. The whole nation was sitting with him dancing for joy. Thoppigala was like the fabled pin head on which millions of angels dance simultaneously for their own happiness and glory. Despite its detractors, Thoppigala will rise above all modern icons and shine, in the Mahavamsa tradition, as the undying symbol of the indomitable spirit of a nation that stood on its own two feet and fought, against all foreign and local enemies, with courage and heroism to lift a fallen nation from the ashes to new heights of pride and dignity.

To all those self-sacrificing soldiers, sailors and airmen, who put their lives on the line without squabbling for spoils of power and prestige, I raise my cap off, from across the other side of the Indian Ocean and say: “Ye gods look down / And from thy sacred vials pour thy graces” upon these noble sons and daughters of Sri Lankan soil.

The Spy Master and his Kaoboys

After working for 28 years in Military Intelligence, I realised that MI was like a mistress to be coveted and courted in privacy and ignored in public by the commanders. But after reading B Raman's 'The Kaoboys of the R&AW' - an absorbing walk down the memory lane of his 27-year journey in the Research and Analysis Wing - I came to the conclusion that civil intelligence agencies are no better. But unlike the MI they are not mistresses but royal concubines.

Their influence is great, but they have to stand in for the queen to take the flak when the royalty fails.According to Raman, the name Kaoboys was originally used by Ambassador Apa Pant. It stuck to RN Kao, the visionary chief of R&AW and his team when George Bush Sr was the CIA chief in the 1970s. When Kao visited the CIA HQ in Washington DC, Bush presented him a small bronze statue of a cowboy. And Raman as one of the original Kaoboys, shares his memories of working under the great spymaster.

Three things make this book remarkable candour and honesty, fair judgement, and moral courage. The self-effacing personality Raman has not prevented him from calling a spade a spade whether it is about his mentor and Guru RN Kao, or his organisation. I found Raman's book refreshing after reviewing General Musharraf's autobiography glorifying himself in the first person singular.

Unlike the General, Raman does not drum up his achievements loudly in every chapter. These are tucked in here and there in low key, often credited to his guru or his organisation.

As a nation our historical sense rarely goes beyond Ramayana and Mahabharata. Thus we have been missing out on first hand accounts those who participated in events that shaped national decision making process.

There are a few memoirs of politicians and bureaucrats from the former Vice President Dr MC Chagla to Prime Minister Narasimha Rao to Dr PC Alexander which do fill the void. But unlike many of them written in dry as dust 'South Block English', Raman has adopted a modern, reader-friendly style. So the book is interesting and a few anecdotes thrown in between makes it absorbing.

Books on Indian intelligence, that too on R&AW, are too few. So Raman's honest book is a welcome addition to understand Indian history in the making from an intelligence perspective. Raman's writing highlights areas of strengths and weaknesses not only in intelligence but also in our national policy making process and governance. This enhances the value of this book.

There are two broad streams of analytical thought running through the book: national leadership's role in the performance of R&AW, and issues relating to R&AW's structuring and operational management. This article shall touch upon some of these aspects rather than the juicy stories, some of which have already been reproduced in the media.
National leadership and the performance of R&AW.

The performance of R&AW under prime ministers like Mrs Indira Gandhi and PV Narasimha Rao, who had clarity of thought, was far superior to others like Morarji Desai or VP Singh whose prejudices overrode their faith in professional competence of intelligence agencies.

Intelligence assets take time to build; unfortunately lack of continuity in policy decisions on intelligence can cost the nation dearly. When this is combined with populist decision making by the rulers, it can become a disaster. The author has cited a number of such instances.

For instance the soft handling of terrorism in Kashmir by VP Singh kindled the spread of terror threat. Stung by this in a fire fighting measure, his government went to the other extreme of asking the R&AW to give arms training to RSS cadres of Jammu to fight the terrorists!

Though nothing came of it as the Babri Masjid issue took precedence, it showed the extreme swings which government policy could take. The dismantling of covert action assets painstakingly created in Pakistan when IK Gujral came to power is yet another such instance that affected India's national interest.

Among the prime ministers with whom Raman had interacted, Mrs Indira Gandhi comes alive as a powerful personality. Raman's vivid picture of Indira Gandhi's paranoia in chapter 5 is succinctly summed up in the statement 'benevolence and malevolence go side by side.' She recognised the value of giving enough space to RN Kao to build the R&AW as an effective organisation.

Actually, RA&W under Kao proved itself within eight years of its arrival during the Bangladesh war in 1971. But somewhere down the line, R&AW lost its grip with Bangladesh thereafter and came a cropper with Mujibur Rahman's assassination. The Bangladesh War was a glorious chapter in Indian intelligence, when the army, the BSF, the IB and the R&AW worked to a cogent plan without trampling upon each others toes. Unfortunately, that spirit was perhaps never recovered in any other national crisis or war ever after, whether it was Khalistani revolt, Mumbai blast or Kargil War.

Chapter 7 dealing with the period of Emergency is interesting. The questionable use of R&AW during the Emergency, like the induction of two officers in I&B Ministry, reflected the leadership failure of both the prime minister and the organisation. Though the misuse was probably exaggerated in public perception, it coincided with the period of R&AW's rapid expansion. More than that, the Emergency set a bad precedence in the successive governments misusing intelligence agencies for political purposes. Raman's frank analysis of Kao's role during this period as advisor to Mrs Gandhi has no frills attached.

The Rajiv Gandhi period was a troublesome one for the nation, with Punjab in the melting pot of insurgency aided and abetted by the ISI, in the midst of the young leader's attempt to establish himself on his own terms. Perhaps this is the best chapter in the whole book. The faltering steps taken by Rajiv Gandhi with the help of R&AW to handle Pakistan is explained in some detail by Raman. But Rajiv had the sense to maintain continuity with earlier policies and kept an open mind unlike his successors. Thus timely technology inputs to the R&AW were acquired in this period.

Most of the intelligence community will concur with Rajiv's belief and Raman's observation about the Pakistani mindset as an enduring phenomenon that bugs Pak perceptions and policies towards India. Of course there were some quirks in Rajiv's performance: training of the first batch of the SPG in Italy, Rajiv Gandhi directly getting involved in a campaign to 'get back' at VP Singh and the intelligence agencies joining his bandwagon, his inexperienced handling of the Sri Lanka intervention etc. Raman has objectively discussed these issues.
External threats to intelligence

Raman has cited a number of instances of penetration of the IB, PMO including the NSCS, and the R&AW by the CIA, French and German intelligence etc. For instance the CIA had a mole in R&AW in Chennai during 1987 and the French had infiltrated the PMO in Delhi in this period and sensitive information was leaking like a sieve in this period. His suggestion for setting up a watchdog body to monitor the performance of IB and R&AW is an important one. In the US, such a body reports directly to the Congressional Oversight Committees. However in our country, where some of the ministers continue to be in the cabinet even as serious criminal cases are pending against them, the usefulness of such a parliamentary oversight committee appears doubtful.

The CIA has probably four decades of relationship with Indian intelligence. Yet it has persisted successfully in penetrating Indian intelligence agencies more than once. Raman has documented a few such cases of CIA moles in R&AW (an unnamed IPS officer and Major Rabinder Singh). Despite this, his contempt is focused on the State Department as the biggest road block to Indian interests. The State Department had all along known the ISI's involvement in terrorism in India and had consistently refused to recognize it. During the Narasimha Rao days it had the temerity to put India on notice if the R&AW did not desist from covert action in Pakistan! For those who want better relations with the US, Raman gives a timely reminder in this piece.

R&AW and Iinternational relations

Many may not know the nature of relationship that exists between intelligence agencies of many countries. Raman recounts the relationship built between the R&AW and the CIA, French SDECE, Khad of Afghanistan, the SAVAK of Shah's Iran, MOSSAD, the MI5 and MI6, and even the Ministry of State Security of China at various points. Of course, these relations had two sides: they helped each other wherever it was possible but that did not prevent them from spying on each other. While CIA helped R&AW as far as China was concerned, it constantly tried to penetrate the top echelons of Indian administration and the R&AW.

Raman cites his own experience of working under cover appointments in Indian missions in Paris (operating with the full knowledge of the French to gather intelligence on third countries without using French nationals) and Geneva. These two accounts on the sidelines are full of interesting anecdotes of visits of VIPs from India and the internal politics of Indian missions.

Many may not know the R&AW had an important role in building bridges with African nations and Israel. Similarly it had a hand in opening up India's relations with China during Rajiv Gandhi's regime.


The book is a tribute to RN Kao, described by Raman as one who "gave credit to his colleagues and subordinates when things went well and took the blame when things went wrong. He was liked by the high and the mighty not only in India, but also in many countries, but throughout his life never once did he drop or use their names."

But it is much more than that. It is a mirror of how we excelled and faltered as a nation and the role played by the R&AW in it. And it is worth reading for this single reason.
As an old MI hand I share Raman's concern at the pedestrian response in the government machinery to take action upon receiving vital information. He cites the Rajiv Gandhi assassination is one instance he cites. I know this to be true first hand because MI handed over to the IB in Chennai an intercepted LTTE transmission where the cadre spoke of finishing off Rajiv when he came to Tamilnadu. The IB boss laughed it off. "Why should the LTTE kill him?" was his reaction. Perhaps the LTTE did not hear him; after a few months they killed Rajiv Gandhi.

Now we see this kind of inaction time and again, the latest being the Hyderabad blasts where there was advance notice of the explosions. Who is accountable for such lapses? Unless, we become a nation with accountability for our actions or inaction more innocent lives will be blasted to bits.


Implications Of Mannar Coastal Operations

The Sri Lanka security forces in a swift operation on September 2, 2007 took over control of the western coastal area south of Mannar along Arippu Silvatturai Kondachchi. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who had been expecting this move for some time now, made a tactical pull out, without offering much resistance, though they appear to have lost a dozen cadres. The region was under the nebulous control of the LTTE who used Silvatturai and other points to smuggle their needs and also to off load supplies from mother ships.

After the operation the security forces recovered a suicide boat, 25 boats with outboard motors, and a large stock of anti-personnel and some Claymore mines and assorted ammunition. Though this was not a major LTTE base, its loss will further constrict Sea Tiger's operational area on the west. The LTTE movement to Tamilnadu coast will now be a little more risky. Tactically, it makes the LTTE's sea based infiltration operations into Puttalam-Negombo-Colombo coast more difficult.

If taking control of the coast to prevent illegal LTTE boat operations was the objective, the security forces will have to expand their hold further south, along the Portugal Bay coast. That will require clearing the area further down to Marthondikulam-Manchchukkadi ending at Kudremalai point.

This would effectively cut off the LTTE infiltration into Wilpattu sanctuary, posing a threat to Sinhala villages on its periphery. Presumably this is what the security forces would do in the coming days, though the defence spokesman had said this operation was not the beginning of the northern offensive.

In July, the security forces had expanded the forward defended lines from west of Omanthai short of Paraiyanalankulam near Madhu Iranai Iluppaikulam. If we correlate the capture of the coastal area with the July operations, the security forces gain clear operational advantages for their northern offensive.

In all probability we can expect the opening up of the alternate axis Puttalam-Mannar road when Kudremalai point is linked up from the north. This will enable greater flexibility to build up troops as well as their maintenance. It also pushes any surprise LTTE threat from the west to the A9 axis farther. It also makes LTTE's lateral movements between east and western halves of A9 highway more difficult.

After the loss of east, lack of adequate reinforcements is a reality the LTTE has to face. This could explain the LTTE's pull out from the Arippu-Silvatturai coast without a counter offensive to draw off troops. Two other possible reasons are (1) to conserve strength to defend a more compact area when northern offensive comes and (2) inability to shift troops to the area due to forward contact of troops along the Mannar axis.

The LTTE had been proactively defending its forward defended lines elsewhere in north. Its artillery had been targeting Palali once again. However, it must be worried about its inability to infiltrate cadres both across the Jaffna Lagoon as well as Point Pedro coast in sizeable numbers.

As the forward troops are tying down the LTTE along the forward lines, the LTTE has to combine its infiltration tactics to its main offensive on Jaffna. To this extent the security forces have succeeded in taking over the operational initiative from the LTTE to prevent such a build up.

The repeated failure of the Sea Tigers to operate freely in the coastal seas of Jaffna peninsula and increasingly along the Alampil Sea is the main reason for the LTTE's current impasse. The LTTE chief Prabhakaran is reported to have made a rare public appearance at the funeral of the third rung leader of the Sea Tigers, Chandrasekaran Pillai alias Thiyagan, at Pudukkudiruppu.

Thiyagan was killed in an encounter with the Sri Lanka navy off Trincomalee coast on August 13, 2007. According to some reports quoting Sri Lanka MI sources, Cheliyan has taken over as the commander of Sea Tigers, after Soosai, the veteran Sea Tiger commander, was seriously injured in an explosion triggered during a training exercise. If this is correct, the Sea Tigers are probably in the process of being revamped.

In this backdrop, perhaps the time is ripe for a LTTE offensive action that would give a big psychological boost to its cadres and improve its sagging image. For this the best option for the LTTE appears to be to develop offensive action along Welioya-Kokkuthoduvai area, which is the comparatively weak underbelly of the security forces.

This option has three advantages for the LTTE: it poses a direct threat to Sinhala villages along the periphery and with its public fall out on LTTE capabilities, it takes the attention of security forces away from the main A9 axis, and it has the close support of heavy weaponry and probably Sea Tiger support from Wanni.

What are the chances of the security forces launching the northern offensive?
The Army Commander Gen Fonseka has recently replaced the commanders of almost all field formations in Mannar sub sector and the entire northern sector. Though the changes could be to beef up the command element for launching an offensive, the new commanders are likely to take sometime to ease up the battle plans. Perhaps, the Silvatturai operation was in a test for the operational coordination of new commanders.

What is the impact of the continuing "victories" of security forces on the peace process that has been in coma, and the All Party Representative Committee's peace formulation exercise? Though military gains are valuable to the government to stabilise its parliamentary and political support, each one of them makes it more difficult to go back to a peace process that was designed for an entirely different mindset.

As far as the APRC is concerned, President Rajapaksa's emphatic statement in a recent interview that federalism was "a negative word in Sri Lanka because people think it (is) synonymous with dividing the country. Also, I prefer the phrase 'power sharing' to 'devolution'," has cleared any illusions about the APRC deliberations. And his candid admission, "I cannot change history or my own political circumstances overnight... You must remember my political legacy and constraints. During my election I received few Tamil votes because of the LTTE-enforced boycott.

I was elected primarily by a Sinhala constituency on an election manifesto which made it clear that an ultimate solution to the ethnic crisis could be evolved only on the basis of a unitary state. In any peace settlement I have to carry the Sinhala voters with me. I cannot unilaterally impose a settlement it has to be the outcome of a political process an outcome that must be long-lasting and acceptable to the people," should put a stop to speculations about any value addition from the APRC exercise.


Revisiting LTTE’s Military Options

“The marginalisation of the 2002 CFA, which would have been a step towards just peace, has destroyed the confidence of the Tamil people and their expectations regarding future peace efforts. The Sri Lankan government’s ongoing war of aggression, aimed at the subjugation of the Tamil people under the guise of ‘war on Terrorism’, will add to the bloodstained pages of the island’s history. It has also compelled the Tamil people to resume their freedom struggle to realize their right to self - determination and to achieve statehood.”
– LTTE statement on February 22, 2007

“Secretary to the Defence Ministry Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said that the Government would not give into any pressures to change its defence policy that countered LTTE terrorism successfully. ‘We will not let any force dictate terms to us, whether they are national or international, to stop our on going counter-terrorism measures. We will continue till we eradicate this menace from our country,’ Rajapaksa said Friday. He said that the President, in his electoral manifesto, had promised to eliminate terrorism from the country and the people have given him a mandate to accomplish that task. ‘We have six years and we will not change tracks without achieving our target’. The Government’s defence policy had been commended by all forces against terrorism and the masses too have approved the on going operations. ‘Everybody requests us to keep going to save the people under the iron boot of a terrorist group. We have been successful and our troops are recording victory after victory,’ he said.The East has been cleared within a year and the now the LTTE is confined to the North.” - News item in the Island, February 24, 2007

From the two statements given above, it is evident that the mindsets of the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have a great similarity after completing five years of ceasefire in February 2007. Just as they swore by peace in 2002, now they are swearing to pursue war. The process of consigning ceasefire to statute books only is now complete. That is the gist of the their messages.

Already the Sri Lanka media is talking of an imminent LTTE attack citing the exodus of civilians from LTTE controlled areas in the north. On the other hand, LTTE says the air strikes in Vavuniya sector have caused panic among civilians who fear a Sri Lanka offensive in this sector. In the parliament the Minister of Fisheries had indicated possible LTTE attacks on Colombo port. There is a lot uncertainty on the future course of armed pursuit of ‘peace’ in Sri Lanka; it raises a few elusive questions:

What is LTTE going to do, having lost the military initiative to Security Forces at the end of 2006?

What actions can it take to defuse the Security Forces offensive in the north, when it comes about, as stated by the Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa?

The year 2006 was a bad one for the LTTE. It culminated in the progressive loss of control and erosion of their influence in the east and on the high seas. As indicated after the Vakarai action, LTTE appear to have pulled out major part of its forces out of the East. The remnants in the east would probably carry out low-level guerrilla operations reminiscent of the earlier years. In the north, the LTTE forces might not be fully be geared for a conventional war to take on big targets, say like Jaffna.


Thus now LTTE appears to be in the process of cutting their losses and getting their act together for the next phase of their struggle. This process requires: (1) preventing further Security Forces forays in Jaffna peninsula and island territories, (2) reduce Sri Lanka naval domination of West coast from Mannar to Colombo and (3) sustain defence of current positions in Vavuniya area.

In the 90s LTTE was able to go through a similar process with comparative ease. However, there had been a number of changes in the environment both at home and abroad. LTTE has to come to terms with the new realities while waging its tested and tried mix of conventional and unconventional (UC) warfare including terrorism. Having lost its military initiative, the LTTE is confronted with a number of unsavoury developments before it can launch a powerful conventional operation.

These include reduced firepower and strength, loss areas of control (and as a corollary reduction in local resources), tightened internal finance controls in Sri Lanka, disrupted financial and logistic supply chain from the Americas and the EU countries, not so favourable ambience in Tamil Nadu, and the increasing risk of interception in maritime traffic thanks to the tightening global integration of anti-terrorism measures at sea.

Its global propaganda network has been put on the back foot with increased sensitivity of international bodies to its questionable methods of operation, and international media’s readiness to probe and publicise LTTE’s global ‘grey’ activities.

In order to reconcile its needs for the next phase of its struggle with the existing environment discussed above, LTTE appears to have taken a number of measures. These include:

· Step up recruitment: Broaden the base of its compulsory recruitment through enrolment of all those in the age group of 18 to 40 to create the Makkal Padai (Peoples Force). This militia presumably would relieve trained LTTE cadres from second and third line duties connected with administrative security, supply chain, battlefield replenishment, and provide reinforcements to replace battle casualties. The people living in LTTE areas of control have no choice but to follow its orders. However, they are unhappy with these demands. Some of them who have streamed out of the areas, have been candid about the forced recruitment.

· Maintain an offensive posture along FDLs in Jaffna sector: LTTE deserters and surrendered cadres in the east had indicated low levels of morale after LTTE’s losses in 2006. Undoubtedly, LTTE needs to refurbish its image as a fighting force particularly among the Tamil people living in areas under its control, as well as Tamil Diaspora. Thus LTTE has to assume an offensive posture in its ground activities in the north. The LTTE artillery bombardment (with 130 mm guns) of Headquarters, 53 Division on February 14, 2007 in Kodikamam when senior commanders had gathered is an assertion of such a posture. It also sends a clear signal that the LTTE medium artillery is alive and kicking despite repeated air strikes to eliminate them. (According to the informed columnist Iqbal Athas at least four guns were involved in the bombardment.) At a pinch, this gives the LTTE the capability to interdict the use of Jaffna airport as was demonstrated in its August 2006 operation after its Mavil Aru debacle. Despite media reports of possible LTTE attack in Jaffna sector, in my view this may come later than sooner when LTTE’s overseas supply chain, particularly from Tamil Nadu, is stabilized.

This would require LTTE to draw away Sri Lanka Navy from Mannar coast on the east and off Chundikulam to Point Pedro in the north. Sea Tigers efforts to interdict ships supplying Jaffna came to naught. But their actions have woken up Indian Coast Guard and Navy to the potential threat posed by LTTE.

As a result they have tightened their patrolling, presumably in coordination with Sri Lanka Navy. The results have been quick and more may be forthcoming. LTTE is likely to try and tackle the adverse situation in Tamil Nadu politically rather than through confrontation.

In the coming weeks we can expect some of the pro-LTTE political leaders with clout in the state and central governments to try and lobby for scaling down the counter-LTTE operations along Tamil Nadu coast. Whether the state and central governments would respond to such backdoor methods is a moot point.

· Claymore mine attacks, selective killings, and sniping along forward lines and patrolling routes are attractive options for LTTE to keep up the UC war going particularly along the axes of operation in the north. This would impose caution on the Security Forces and delay their aggressive patrolling activities so essential before they launch offensive operations.

There are sufficient indications that LTTE also intends to carry the UC war to Colombo port through Sea Tigers attacks. This threat even if it fails to materialise would tie down naval ships and provide manoeuvring space for Sea Tigers to protect supply routes in the north.

Interrogation of apprehended LTTE cadres in Tamil Nadu has indicated that the suicide boat seized by the Coast Guard was intended for an attack on Kankesanturai (KKS) and that 15 more such boats are being readied for similar operations. These reports only reinforce the likelihood of the UC war heating up in preference to conventional operations.


The Security Forces are poised to follow up their successes in the east with operations against LTTE hides in Toppigala forests. The LTTE cadres still operating in reduced numbers can be expected to carry out UC attacks against soft targets (supply convoys, second line transport, civilian transport etc.) along the coastal roads. These can spill over in areas northwest of Wellikanda when the heat of Security Forces operation cools down. Presumably these areas will have to be dominated by Karuna’s force in he interim.

In the search operations following the Vakarai success, the Security Forces have recovered a large haul of weapons and equipment stashed away in LTTE hides. According to the Security Forces the weapons and equipment recovered up to February 16, 2007 included: 152 mm artillery guns-2, 120 mm Mortars-5, 81 mm Mortars – 8, Assault rifles T-56 – 624, Anti aircraft guns – 2, RPG launchers & rockets (quantity not specified), Machine guns – 13, Claymore mines – 71, High tech radio sets – 34, Intercom sets for internal use – 62, and Suicide boats (armed with 22 &24 Claymore mines) – 2. This is perhaps one of the biggest ‘catches’ of the Sri Lanka Army. The recovery of sizeable quantities of weapons from caches give insight into a few interesting aspects of LTTE operations:

· LTTE pull out (exfiltration in Indian military jargon) from Sampur-Vakarai-Verugal area was a planned operation than just running away from the battlefield as painted by the media. Apparently LTTE had used the concentration of civilians fleeing from the battle zone astride the axis of advance of Security Forces to buy time and delay the launch of the Vakarai offensive. This shows LTTE’s callous disregard for civilian lives and the bitter truth that when it comes to war self-preservation rather than humanitarian considerations always takes the upper hand.

· The recovery of 152 mm guns, and 120 mm mortars reduces the artillery threat in this sector to Sri Lanka naval shipping and coastal traffic. This gives a major advantage to the Security Forces to move reinforcements to Jaffna and to launch Naval operations from Trincomalee coast to support ground operations in the north and restrict Sea Tiger operations off Mullaitivu- Alapmpil coast.

· The loss of large quantities of close support weapons like machine guns and 81 mm mortars probably indicate the neutralisation of LTTE’s conventional capability in the east. However, we can expect UC operations as some of the leadership and cadres are still dispersed in the jungles on the west and south.

· Despite the constant and regular air strikes the LTTE was able to stash away even large weapons like 152 mm guns and 120 mm mortars. This would indicate the limitations of depending upon air support to neutralise ground threat, particularly in counter insurgency. This is a historical truth repeated from the time the American airborne weapons in Vietnam failed to win them the war. (Americans appear to be still in the same belief in Iraq). As our own experience has indicated helicopter gunships are a better option than fighter-bombers for such operations.

· The Security Forces are to be commended for unearthing such big caches within a reasonable time. Karuna’s knowledge of the ground in this region probably came in handy for search operations.

The Tamil Nadu factor

In the earlier part of this article LTTE’s use of Claymore mines figures as a weapon of choice in its UC operations. LTTE’s uncanny ability to use it to ambush Security Forces and VIP convoys is well documented. In UC warfare, this potent directional mine, which destroys the targets in a 60-degree arc in radius of about 50 m, is ideally suited for causing maximum casualty because on triggering it throws 700 steel balls at a height of about 6 ft. Functionally, it offers a number of activation options. LTTE had been manufacturing these mines. Despite the continuous air strikes in 2006, it evidently still retains the in-house capacity to produce them. Its manufacture requires casings made in cast iron, steel balls and explosives. LTTE probably assembles the weapon with these requirements procured from other suppliers. Security Forces in Sri Lanka are probably monitoring sale and traffic of such items useful LTTE

Evidently Tamil Nadu is now an important source for meeting this requirement as number seizures in recent months indicate. (In particular, the Indian Coast Guard’s seizure of a boat in the international waters carrying nearly 6.5 tons of ball bearings for LTTE is a case in point). LTTE with a network of sleeper agents in India is not likely to restrict its procurement to Tamil Nadu only. Kerala with convenient and undermanned coastline offers an attractive option. Andhra Pradesh with its borders in close proximity of Chennai and Karnataka offer less risky options. LTTE is likely to exploit the chinks in India’s coastal and internal security, particularly in southern states, to establish a safe conduit for its supplies. Thus in the context of LTTE’s ability to wage war in Sri Lanka Indian supply chain becomes a force multiplier. Any operation against LTTE in Sri Lanka has to consider neutralising the Tamil Nadu factor through political, diplomatic and military means. A study of LTTE’s current options would be incomplete without considering this aspect, though it has not been included in this article. It is a major topic on its own merit.