Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Airstrikes destroy "Voice of Tigers" radio station

Ground attack aircraft of SLAF's 10th fighter squadron carried out a devastating airstrike on LTTE's official radio station "Voice of Tigers" at 4.20 P.M today. The broadcast station, situated 3.5KM south of LTTE stronghold of Kilinochchi, was completely destroyed in the attack.

LTTE leader Prabhakaran's annual "Mahaveer day" speech was scheduled to be broadcast live on VOT from 6.30 P.M onwards. It was only two hours before this event two Kfir bombers dropped at least 12 bombs on the transmission tower and the surrounding buildings. It is believed that at least 10 LTTE personnel on site were killed in the attack.

Voice of Tigers has been known to use two frequencies to broadcast its services; 98.0MHz from Kilinochchi and 103.0MHz from the Eastern province. It's eastern broadcast station was shut down when Special Forces overran Vakarai and Verugal region early this year.

The SLAF has been unusually active in the past two days. It flew four different bombing sorties today and yesterday, all on targets in the Northern province. At least 3 of these strikes are believed to be successful. Meanwhile several new UAVs are set to join SLAF's 11th UAV flight, which suffered heavily at the hands of Black tigers during AAB attack. The new additions are said to be technically superior to the ones that were destroyed in the attack.

International community should change its approach -LTTE Chief

LTTE leader in his annual Heroes’ Day statement on 27 November 2007

The leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), V Pirapaharan, in his annual Heroes’ Day statement put a heavy responsibility on the shoulders of the international community for the breakdown of the peace process. He said that the involvement of the international community to resolve the Tamil national question has been unhelpful and added that their failure to condemn unambiguously the military path of the current regime has created the present situation in the island. He asserted that the propping up of the genocidal Sinhala State by the international community through economic aid, military aid and subtle diplomatic efforts will be counterproductive.

About the long and bitter history of deception by the Sinhala State he further said, "None of the Southern parties are ready to accept the core principles for a lasting peace: the Tamil homeland, the Tamil nation and the Tamil Right to self determination. The ruling party is adamant on unitary rule; the red and yellow parties are calling for no solution at all; and the main opposition party, somersaulting from its earlier position, is, on the one hand, saying nothing concrete and using evasive language to support the military actions of the government and, on the other hand, saying it supports peace efforts.

All this clearly clarifies our point and proves beyond doubt that all the Sinhala political parties are essentially chauvinistic and anti-Tamil. To expect a political solution from any of these Southern parties is political naivety."

Drawing the attention of the international community to this long history of deception by the chauvinistic Sinhala State, the Tamil national leader said that the confidence of the Tamil people on the international community has been eroded by their one-sided approach. He pointed out that nations like East Timor and Montenegro broke free of their subjugation and gained their freedom with the help and support of the international community.

He added that the actions of the international community with respect to the Tamil national question are unjust and said that Tamil people hoped that the international community would change their biased approach and recognize the sovereignty of the Tamil nation.

The LTTE leader called on the global Tamil community to support the Tamil Eelam freedom struggle. "I wish to express my love and gratitude to you for your past participation in the building of our nation, bringing together your abundant intellectual, material, monetary and many other resources in the service of our nation and ask that you stand with us in the coming years of our freedom struggle," he said.

The full text of the official translation of his speech follows:

The 21st century began as the ‘Asian century’ and the world is looking towards Asia. Many countries in our region have grown in leaps and bounds in social, economical and scientific fields. They are researching space, moon and atom. The whole human race is taking up new challenges and has embarked on a united path, seeking answers to many of nature’s mysteries and looking for remedies to incurable diseases. It is seeking to protect the entire globe and its plant and animal lives. Sadly, the Sinhala nation is moving in exactly the opposite direction, on a path of destruction. It is trying to destroy the Tamil nation and, in the process, it is destroying itself. This beautiful island continues to soak in blood.

Buddhism is a profound spiritual duty. Its philosophy emphasizes a life without desires, a life of love and justice. The Sinhala nation, claiming that it has followed this path for more than two thousand years, has in fact remained immersed in the poison of racism. It is unleashing unthinkable violence against another people. During the long history of the Tamil struggle, first through non-violence and later through armed struggle, the Sinhala mindset has remained unchanged. The Sinhala nation did not change even after so much destruction and lost lives. It continues on the path of violence.

It only desires to find a solution to the Tamil question through military might and oppression. It cunningly evaded efforts to seek peace and is boldly taking forward its military plan. The international community’s economic and military aid, its moral and political support, its diplomatic efforts, and its one-sided involvement directly aided this turn of events.

We know very well that the military, economic and geo-political interests of the world’s powers are embedded in our region. We understand their concern to take forward their interests. We also recognize the concerns of the international community to bring about stability and good governance to this island for these reasons. At the same time the chauvinistic Sinhala State is attempting to exploit this interest in our region of the international powers.

It is trapping the international community in its chauvinistic project and turning the international community against the Tamil freedom struggle. Our people are dismayed and disappointed that these countries, trapped in the deceptive net of the Sinhala State, are being unhelpful in their involvement to resolve our problem. These one-sided involvements of foreign powers are not new in our prolonged struggle. India intervened in our national question then as part of its regional expansion. India signed an accord with the Sinhala State without the consent of the Tamils.

The Indo-Lanka Accord was not signed to meet the aspirations of the people of Tamil Eelam. In fact, India then attempted to force an ineffectual solution on our people - a solution which did not even devolve powers to the extent of the Banda-Chelva pact signed in the 1950’s. India tried to enforce that accord with the strength of more than 100,000 Indian forces, with the power of the agreement between two countries and with the assistance of treacherous Tamil paramilitary groups. However, even this ill-considered solution, which did not even address the basic national aspirations of the Tamils, was blocked by the chauvinistic Sinhala State.

We are intimately familiar with the Sinhala State and its deceptive politics. Our people have a long history of bitter experiences. That is why we explained to India on many occasions, at many locations and at many levels about the implacability of Sinhala chauvinism. We explained to India then that the aim of the Sinhala State was not to find a solution to the Tamil question and bring peace; but to occupy the Tamil homeland, destroy its resources, and enslave the Tamil nation. India refused to accept this reality. As a result our land witnessed great sorrow and destruction.

Today, the international community is making the same mistake that India made many years ago. Even the countries that are the guardians of the peace efforts succumbed to the deception of the Sinhala State and listed our freedom movement as a terrorist organization. What we find most incomprehensible is the fact that these same nations, which labeled us terrorists, not so long ago fought in defence of their own freedom.

The Sinhala nation is unable to stomach the support of our Diaspora for the Tamil freedom struggle; it is unable to accept the humanitarian help and the political lobbying by the Diaspora to end the misery heaped on our people. That is why the Sinhala nation is trying hard to shatter the bond between our people in our homeland and our Diaspora.

Some countries are also assisting this amoral effort of Sinhala chauvinism. These countries are denouncing, as illegal activities, the humanitarian actions and political protests of our people abroad – actions that are carried out according to the laws of those countries. These countries have imprisoned and humiliated Tamil campaigners and representatives. These countries have ridiculed their protests and their efforts to seek justice.

This partisan and unjust conduct of the international community has severely undermined the confidence our people had in them. And it has paved the way for the breakdown of the ceasefire and the peace efforts. Furthermore, the generous military and economic aid they have given to the Sinhala State and their diplomatic efforts to prop up the chauvinistic Sinhala State has encouraged the Sinhala nation further and further along its militaristic path. This is the background to the confidence of the Rajapake regime in continuing with its unjust, inhuman war of occupation of our land.

Overconfident of its military victory over the Tamil freedom movement, the Rajapakse regime has shut fast the door for peace. The desire to oppress the Tamils has intensified as never before. With the entire world giving support, the Sinhala State, using the ceasefire as cover, and exploiting the peace environment, prepared its war of occupation. The SLMM that was monitoring the peace covered its eyes, tied its hands behind back, and went to sleep in Colombo.

The exhausted Norwegian facilitators remained silent. The countries that preached peace to us also went silent and refused to speak out. The Sinhala State started its war and justified it with slogans like ‘War for Peace’, ‘War against terrorism’ and ‘War for the liberation of the Tamils’.

The Rajapakse regime assembled its military might and let loose a massive war on the eastern region of our homeland. This part of our homeland became a wasteland after incessant bombing and shelling. Trincomalee, the famous Tamil capital, was destroyed. Batticaloa, an ancient cultural city of the Tamils, became a land of refugees. Jaffna, the cultural centre of the Tamils, was cut off from the rest of the world and turned into an open prison.

The Sinhala State’s war of genocide destroyed the peaceful life of the Tamils. It turned the Tamils into refugees in their own homeland, ruined their nation’s social and economical infrastructure and plunged them into unprecedented hardships. While our motherland, caught within gruesome Sinhala military rule, is destroyed, Sinhalisation of our historic territory is going on under the pretexts of High Security Zones and Free Trade Zones.

This naked Sinhalisation proceeds by the hoisting of Lion flags, the erection of Sidharthan statues, the renaming of Tamil streets with Sinhala names, the building of Buddhist temples. Sinhala settlements are mushrooming in the Tamil homeland.

The unjust war, the economic blockade, the restrictions on our people’s freedom of movement, the killing of thousands, the displacement of hundreds of thousands, have all deeply wounded the Tamil psyche. The Sinhala nation is celebrating this tragedy as a victory. It is lighting firecrackers believing it has defeated the Tamils.

The Sinhala military leadership believes that its occupation of the east has been completed and the barbed wire noose around the neck of Jaffna has been tightened. The Sinhala nation arrogantly believes it has manacled the eastern coast from Pothuvil to Pulmoddai. The Sinhala leadership thus believes it has won great victories against our struggle.

The Sinhala nation has always misunderstood our freedom struggle. It consistently underestimates us. Only after carefully scrutinising the global situation and external conditions; only after accurately estimating the strengths and weaknesses of the adversary; only after gauging the enemy’s goals and strategies; only after ensuring that we remain focused on our own strategy; only then did we implement our plans to take our liberation struggle forward.

We have strategically withdrawn from the east while launching defensive attacks. The Sinhala nation could have learnt the dangers of putting its feet too wide apart in our land as it did during past battles. But the Sinhala military has fallen yet again into the net we spread and it is now forced to commit large numbers of troops to rule land without people. Caught in a territorial trap, it will soon be forced to face the serious consequences of its misguided ambitions.

Operation ‘Ellalan’, the very first combined Black Tiger and Tamil Eelam Air Force attack was a massive blow to the Sinhala military. It has disrupted the daydreams of the Sinhala nation. The Sinhala nation has not emerged from this massive shock delivered by our beloved fighters. The immeasurable dedication and sacrifice of our Heroes is delivering a message to the Sinhala nation. Those who plan to destroy the Tamil nation will in the end be forced to face their own destruction.

The Rajapakse regime is never going to realize that the Tamil national question cannot be resolved by military oppression. The Sinhala leadership is not going to shed its desire for military supremacy or the Sinhalisation of the Tamil homeland. The Rajapakse regime is working hard to import more and more destructive weapons from all over the world without care for the cost. Therefore, it is not going to give up its war of genocide.

The All Party Representative Committee was appointed by the Rajapakse regime to spread a smokescreen over the misery that its military adventures are creating in the Tamil homeland and to deceive other governments to get their aid and support. We clearly predicted this would happen one year ago. We have been proved right. After dragging on without putting forward any solution, the committee has gone on holiday.

The past sixty years have proven beyond any doubt that no political party in the South has the political honesty or firmness in policy to find a just solution to the Tamil national question. It has been also proved beyond any doubt that none of the Southern parties are ready to accept the core principles for a lasting peace: the Tamil homeland, the Tamil nation and the Tamil Right to self determination.

The ruling party is adamant on unitary rule; the red and yellow parties are calling for no solution at all; and the main opposition party, somersaulting from its earlier position, is, on the one hand, saying nothing concrete and using evasive language to support the military actions of the government and, on the other hand, saying it supports peace efforts. All this clearly clarifies our point and proves beyond doubt that all the Sinhala political parties are essentially chauvinistic and anti-Tamil. To expect a political solution from any of these southern parties is political naivety.

The Sinhala nation showed eagerness in the peace talks only when we shattered their ‘Operation Fireball’ military action and made them realize that the Tigers cannot be defeated. It was only when we proved our military prowess and only when we were militarily in a position of strength that the Sinhala nation signed the ceasefire agreement. Now, with abundant monetary and military aid from several countries, it has rehabilitated its destroyed military and has prepared itself for war again. It is yet again walking the military path having abandoned the peace path.

The Rajapakse regime, after unilaterally abrogating the ceasefire agreement, is ruthlessly implementing its military plan to remove the contiguity of the Tamil homeland. It has killed and disappeared thousands of our people. It reprimands and controls the Norwegian facilitators. It vehemently criticizes the SLMM. It even dares to brand senior UN officials as terrorists in order to hide its own terrorism. It is obscuring the ground reality in the Tamil homeland by striking fear among journalists and NGO workers.

The world’s powers, even while taking forward their own geo-political interests, respect human rights and democratic institutions. Be it this universe, human affairs or international relationships, they all revolve on the wheel of justice. That is why nations like East Timor and Montenegro broke free of their subjugation and gained their freedom with the help and support of the international community. Even now, the international community continues to work for the freedom of nations like Kosovo.

Yet the actions of the international community with respect to our own national question are unjust. The confidence our people placed in the international community has been eroded. By only paying lip-service to peace the international community has contributed to the killing of an extraordinary son of our nation, Tamilselvan. It has stopped the heartbeat of a light that walked the path of peace.

I will be lighting the lamp for my dear brother, Tamilselvan, who until last year was with me every time we, with a burning desire to reach our goal, lit the lamps for our fallen Heroes. The international community has made the entire Tamil world drown in its tears. Had the international community firmly and unambiguously condemned the anti-peace activities and the war mongering of the Sinhala regime, Tamilselvan would be alive today. A huge blow would not have fallen on peace efforts.

The Co-chairs, acting as the guardians of the peace process, have failed in their responsibility. If the Co-chairs do not have a moral obligation to protect peace efforts, what exactly is the purpose of their meeting from time to time in different places? Is it their intent to assist the Sinhala regime to wipe out the Tamils? Questions like these have arisen in the minds of our people.

Our people firmly expect that at least from now on the international community will take a new approach in relation to our freedom struggle. On this sacred day it is the hope of our people that the international community will cease giving military and economic aid to the Sinhala regime and accept the right to self determination and the sovereignty of the Tamil nation.
My beloved people,

We are an ancient people with special qualities. We have a unique national identity and national foundation. We have been struggling non-violently and by armed struggle for a very long time against national oppression. We are not terrorists, committing blind acts of violence impelled by racist or religious fanaticism. Our struggle has a concrete, legitimate, political objective.

We are struggling only to regain our sovereignty in our own historical land where we have lived for centuries, the sovereignty which we lost to colonial occupiers. We are struggling only to reestablish that sovereignty and rebuild our nation. The Sinhala nation is continuing to reject our just and civilized demands for freedom. Instead, it has declared a genocidal war on our land and our people. Behind the smokescreen of fighting terrorism, it is creating immense human misery.

Despite our people enduring injustice and oppression, facing death, destruction and massive displacement, no country, no nation, no international organization has raised its voice on our behalf. We face this situation alone because, although 80 million Tamils live all around the globe, the Tamils do not have a country of their own.

On this day, when we remember our Heroes, I ask the entire Tamil speaking world to rise up for the liberation of Tamil Eelam. I wish to express my love and gratitude to you for your past participation in the building of our nation, bringing together your abundant intellectual, material, monetary and many other resources in the service of our nation and ask that you stand with us in the coming years of our freedom struggle.

Thousands of our fighters are standing ready to fight with determination for our just goal of freedom and we will overcome the hurdles before us and liberate our motherland. On this day when we remember our Heroes who sacrificed themselves for this sacred goal, let each one of us carry their dream in our hearts and struggle until it is achieved.

Tiger Leader seeks support from Tamils,as Air Force destroys VOT

LTTE leader Velupullai Pirbhakaran seeks Tamil diaspora's help to revive his struggle while blaming the international community on breakdown of the peace process,as Air Force destroyed Tiger official Radio station barely two hours before his annual heroes day speech.Pirabhakaran made his annual speech in an undisclosed location in Wanni this evening and requested support from Tamils around the world to fight against the Sinhalese government.

"I wish to express my love and gratitude to you for your past participation in the building of our nation,bringing together your abundant intellectual, material, monetary and many other resources in the service of our nation and ask that you stand with us in the coming years of our freedom struggle"he saidJust two hours before his speech two of Air Force No.10 squadron's Kfir jets pounded bombs on Voice of Tigers a clandestine radio station situated near Kilinochchi town,along the A9 high way.

The VOT building was flattened and many were feared dead,according to the latest information.
The attack was one of the series of attacks carried out by Security Forces to disrupt the Heroes day celebrations all over the Killinochchi.Military used two methods of strategy,both in land and air,a senior military official confirming the destroying of VOT told defence wire,a short while ago.


Indian Congressmen burn Prabhakaran in effigy

Tension prevailed at the office of the Tiruchy Urban District Congress Committee (TDCC) here on Monday as a group of partymen staged a demonstration demanding the arrest of MDMK general secretary Vaiko for extending support to the LTTE, a banned outfit, and burnt LTTE supremo V Prabhakaran in effigy to register their protest.

A section of Congressmen, who assembled in front of Arunachala Mandram, the party’s urban district office, staged a demonstration and raised slogans against those extending support to the LTTE.

They also pelted stones to record their protest, besides demanding the arrest of Vaiko. The demonstrators were led by the party’s urban district president Jerome Arockiaraj.

The demonstrators then took out a rally and attempted to picket buses by squatting on the road and the police, who had been deployed there, had a tough time handling them, leading to a tussle between the demonstrators and the police.

Later, the demonstrators burnt Prabhakaran in effigy. However, Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam district secretary Rajendran, who arrived there, raised slogans against the demonstrators and distributed handbills and pamphlets in support of the LTTE.

This triggered tension in the area. Subsequently, the police, led by Assistant Commissioner of Police Rajasekaran, arrested him.

“Everything depends on the situation in our homeland” – V. Prabhakaran in 1984

LTTE leaders Interview with Anita Pratap: Sunday Magazine, India 11-17 March 1984

"There cannot be a blueprint or a time limit for a freedom struggle. Everything depends on the situation in our homeland and happenings on the international scene. "

Full Text of the Interview

Q: What made you opt out of a conventional system and spearhead a liberation movement which you knew would be outlawed?

A: The democratic parliamentary system, or what you refer to as the conventional political system in Sri Lanka, has always tried to impose the will of the majority on the minority. This system not only failed to solve the basic problems of our people but, in fact, aggravated our plight. For decades, the repression by the state has made the life of our people miserable. The non-violent democratic struggles of our people were met with military repression. Our just demands were totally ignored, and the oppression continued on such a scale as to threaten the very survival of the Tamils in Sri Lanka. It was these circumstances which led me to form our liberation movement. I felt that an armed struggle was the only alternative left to our people, not only to ensure our survival but ultimately to free' our selves from the Sinhala oppression. I have always been aware that our movement would be outlawed. It is for this reason that we organised our movement as a clandestine under ground structure from its inception.

Q: Could you elaborate on some of your personal experiences that compelled you to believe that an armed struggle was the only solution for the Tamils of Sri Lanka? Were you, your family members and friends, directly victimised by the discriminatory policy of the Sri Lankan government?

A: The shocking events of the 1958 racial riots had a profound impact on me when I was a schoolboy. I heard of horrifying incidents of how our people had been mercilessly and brutally put to death by Sinhala racists. Once I met a widowed mother, a friend of my family, who related to me her agonising personal experience of this racial holocaust. During the riots a Sinhala mob attacked her house in Colombo. The rioters set fire to the house and murdered her husband. She and her children escaped with severe burn injuries. I was deeply shocked when I saw the scars on her body. I also heard stories of how young babies were roasted alive in boiling tar. When I heard such stories of cruelty I felt a deep sense of sympathy and love for my people. A great passion overwhelmed me to redeem my people from this racist system. I strongly felt that armed struggle was the only way to confront a system which em ploys armed might against unarmed, innocent people.

Q: At what point of time did you lose faith in the parliamentary system? What precipitated this disillusionment?

A: I entered politics at a time-in the early Seventies-when the younger generation had already lost faith in parliamentary politics. I entered politics as an armed revolutionary. What precipitated the disillusionment in parliamentary politics was the total disregard and callousness of the successive governments towards the pathetic plight of our people.

Q: How did you come to start the Liberation Tiger movement?

A: I originally formed the movement with a group of dedicated youths who sincerely believed that armed struggle was the only way to liberate our people.

Q: What was the reason for identifying yourselves as 'Tigers'?

A: I named the movement 'Liberation Tigers' since the tiger emblem had deep roots in the political history of the Tamils, symbolising Tamil patriotic resurgence The tiger symbol also depicts the mode of our guerrilla warfare.

Q: When you decided to form the 'Liberation Tigers', what was the reaction of your family members and those close to you?

A: As soon as the Tiger movement was formed, I went underground and lost contact with my family.

Q: When did you last meet your family members? Are they reconciled to your outlawed existence?

A: I have not seen my family members for the last 11 years. I do not think they regard me as an ordinary person leading an ordinary life.They are reconciled to my existence as a guerrilla fighter.

Q: After 14 years of struggle, do you think you are any closer to achieving your goal?

A: After all these years of struggle I feel that we are advancing towards our goal. The '83 July holocaust has united all sections of the Tamil masses. There is a massive support for the armed liberation program of our movement. This is certainly a step towards our goal.

Q: On what way have the experiences of the past 12 years changed you as a person?

A: These years of struggle have strengthened my determination and sharpened my vision.

Q: Till now what has been your most rewarding experiences?

A: It is difficult for me to identify a particular experience as rewarding. The life of a guerrilla fighter is full of experience: experiences of sorrow, happiness, frustration: each of which brings its own rewards.

Q: The experience over the years must have changed your outlook. What are some of the dominant impressions and convictions that you gained by virtue of this experience? Moreover your experiences would have convinced you of the inefficacy of certain principles and theories in practical situations, whole at the same time bringing home the validity of yet others. Can you pinpoint some of them?

A: Twelve years of experience has convinced me beyond doubt that the armed revolutionary path we under took was the correct one. The other liberation groups who criticised our armed strategy as terrorism have now realised that armed struggle is the only way out for the emancipation of our oppressed people. Moreover the guerrilla warfare has been an effective form of struggle. Several successful guerrilla raids have convinced our people that the Sinhala forces can be defeated and freedom can be won.

Q: Who is your friend, philosopher, and guide?

A: Nature is my friend. Life my philosopher and history is my guide.

Q: How does it feel to be the most wanted man in Sri Lanka today?

A: An Irish leader once remarked that when the British indict a personas a terrorist it implied that he was a true Irish patriot. Similarly when the Sri Lanka government refers to me as the most wanted man it means that I am a true Tamil patriot. Hence I feel proud to be indicted as a wanted man.

Q: Which was your most frustrating moment of your life?

A: I cannot pinpoint such a moment in my life. But the most frustrating aspect has been the betrayal of some of my trusted friends: those who pretended to be sincere to the cause. Bet turned out to be self seeking opportunists.

Q: How did the split between you and Uma Maheshwaran come about?

A: I do not approve the formulation of the question In fact. the issue should not he viewed as a conflict or split between me and Uma Maheshwaran. It was a problem between all individual and the Tiger movement. I am in no way responsible for the problem. It was Maheshwaran who created the issue. A leader of a revolutionary movement should commit himself totally to the discipline of the organisation. If a leader violates the basic rules and principles then there will be chaos and the organisation will crumble. Uma Maheshwaran violated the rules of our movement and as a disciplinary action he was expelled by the central committee. Being the founder of the movement and the person who appointed Maheshwaran as the chairman I had no other alternative but to uphold the decision of the central committee.

Q: Today one finds that there are several Eelam liberation groups. Invariably they work at cross-purposes. When the goal is the same, should not there be a unification process? After all, there is more to be gained by using your combined strength against the common enemy. In principle, are you opposed to the rival groups uniting?

A: I have clearly and explicitly stated that I am in favor of such unity moves. I even wrote to these groups on 5 September 1982welcoming the idea and suggested that we all prepared to form a united front of all other liberation groups, shed their differences and work out a common program of action. But. unfortunately, these groups failed to formulate a common working program. Instead, at every unity meeting they fought against each other and fail apart. The tragedy is that these groups have no sincere intentions to unite and there is a wide gap between their words and their deeds. I sincerely feel that these groups should set an example by forging unity among themselves rather than blaming the Tigers for their disunity. Once they unite we are prepared to join hands with them.

Q: Spokesmen of rival groups have told me that all except you are open to the idea of uniting. Is this true?

A: This is absolutely untrue. It is only a propaganda by other groups to undermine our movement.

Q: Are you alone in the struggle?

A: I am not alone. I lead a powerful national movement and a wide section of the Tamil masses support me.

Q: Do you experience moments of loneliness? And if you do. how do you combat it?

A: I have never felt lonely at any point of time. Loneliness is only a problem with those who are buried in their own individual egos. A true revolutionary transcends individuality and develops a collective, social consciousness. I live and struggle for a common collective cause.

Q: Do you have any regrets about not leading a normal life?

A: There are millions who, as you put it, lead a normal, ordinary existence. But we are fighting for a cause, for a noble ideal which gives us a profound spiritual satisfaction.

Q: Are you worried over the fact that most Tamil youths face a bleak future in Sri Lanka?

A: The youths are fighting a battle for freedom. I foresee a bright future for them.

Q: Is it true that more and more Tamil ,youths are taking part in the liberation struggle?

A: Yes, more and more youths are joining the revolution under our leadership since they have realised that armed struggle is the only way to redeem themselves and their society.

Q: How would you defend your movement from being called a "separatist" one. and that you all are not freedom fighters but "terrorists"?

A: It is wrong to call our movement "separatist". We are fighting for independence based on the right to national self determination of our people. Our struggle is for self determination, for the restoration of our sovereignty in our homeland. We are not fighting for a division or separation of a country but rather, we are fighting to uphold the sacred right to live in freedom and dignity. In this sense, we are freedom fighters not terrorists.

Q: Would you rather die than be caught by the Sinhalese army?

A: I would prefer to die in honour rather than being caught alive by the enemy.

Q: The Liberation Tiger for Tamil Eelam (LTTE) staged the 23 July 1983ambush in which 13 Sinhalese soldiers were killed. The ambush was allegedly the reason for the Sinhalese retaliation on innocent Tamils. Did you expect such a massive retaliation?

A: The July violence should not be assessed simply as a Sinhala retaliation for the guerrilla ambush. This view is a gross oversimplification of the event. The island has been plagued with anti-Tamil racial violence which erupts periodically over the years. There were violent racial holocausts even before the emergence of our movement. Violent riots erupted in Trincomalee a couple of weeks before the ambush. Therefore, the phenomenon of anti-Tamil racial violence cannot be traced to a single event. We are engaged in a protracted guerrilla warfare. There has been several guerrilla raids, several ambushes,, and we have killed several Sinhala soldiers and policemen The July ambush was only a part of the warfare we are engaged in. It is incorrect to assume that one particular military operation has precipitated the entire violence.

The July riots, you would have certainly observed, was not aimed at the physical extermination of our people but it was also aimed the destruction of the economic power base of the Tamils in Colombo. Our view is that the July holocaust was a pre-planned. well- orchestrate genocidal pogrom against the Tamils, carried out by the racial elements of the ruling party. Initially, these racist elements did attempt to put the whole blame on the Tiger. Then, suddenly they blamed the left parties for the riots. But in actual fact, it is the racist leaders of the present government who should be the responsibility for this tragic loss of life and property of our people.

Q: Why did you stage the July ambush? There are various versions afloat. According to some, it was an act of reprisal as four Tamil woman had been raped. Based on my investigations I felt that ,you had to prove a point to the Sinhalese army who were jubilant over the death of your close associate, Charles Anthony, leader of the military wing on 15. July. The point, I guess that you had to assert was that the LTTE despite the loss of one of its ablest leaders was still strong and capable of take on the Sinhalese army. Is this theory correct?

A: There is an element of truth your findings about Charles Anthony and the ambush. The attack was partly a retaliation, a punishment the Sinhala army. But still we feel that the lives of 13 soldiers cannot compensate the life of a great revolutionary and freedom fighter like Charles. The ambush was also a part of the guerrilla warfare directed against the enemy.

Q: Do you think that the round table negotiations will lead to the formulation of a permanent settlement?

A: I am of the opinion that the round table conferences will not bring about a permanent settlement to the Tamil issue. Our view is based on the experience of several decades. The Sinhala leaders never made a sincere attempt to resolve the Tamil issue. The present negotiations will also meet the same fate All the major Sinhala parties and the Buddhist organisations are opposed to granting any form of regional autonomy to the Tamils. They are even opposed to giving minor concessions. Hence nothing substantial will emerge from this conference.

Q: Do you hold the TULF (Tamil. United Liberation Front) leaders responsible for retarding the liberation struggle? Do you view them a betrayers?

A: It is true that the opportunistic politics of the TULF is retarding the liberation struggle. They have never taken any concrete steps to further the struggle. On the contrary they give false hopes, create illusions, and try to keep our people in perpetual bondage. They entered politics only to further their selfish ends. They never had any sincere intentions to liberate our oppressed people, nor did they ever put forward any concrete programme of political action. They never expected that they would be caught in the storm of a liberation struggle. The flame of a revolution is fast spreading all over Tamil Eelam. But the TULF leaders are trying their best to smother the fire. In this sense you can term the TULF leaders as betrayers.

Q: Is it true that the TULF leaders are afraid to go to their home town and stay there not because of the Sinhalese but because of the Tigers?

A: They are frightened not of the Tigers, but of the fury of the people who voted them to power on the promise of an independent state for the Tamils.

Q: Do you think that India's good offices will result in anything tangible?

A: India's efforts have given a positive hope to our people. But I do not think that the Sinhala racist government will utilise India's offer to resolve the problems of the Tamils.

Q: Ideally, what should India do in such a situation to help the Tamils?

A: I think that the government of India should recognise the fair and legitimate demands of our people and accept our right to self determination.

Q: Would you suggest military intervention ?

A: We have the courage, confidence and determination to fight and win our freedom. We should fight and free ourselves. But we do need India's support and sympathy.

Q: What is your personal assessment of President Jayewardene?

A: If Jayewardene was a true Buddhist, I would not be carrying a gun

Q: What do you think is Jayewardene's intention behind holding these negotiations? Is he buying time?

A: There are several reasons behind holding these peace negotiations. Firstly, Jayewardene wants to appease the Indians. Secondly, he wants to restore the colossal damage the riots have done to the image of the country. Thirdly, it would help him to seek financial aid from western agencies. Fourthly, the President wants to buy time to build up the Sinhala military machine.

Q: Is President Jayewardene a prisoner in the hands of the hawks in his cabinet or is he acting on his own? Is he being pressurised by the Buddhist clergy?

A: Jayewardene is acting on his own. He has supreme powers. The hawks in the cabinet and the Buddhist clergy are behind him.

Q: What is the role of the Buddhist clergy in Sri Lanka?

A: The Buddhist clergy has played a dominant role in shaping the political trends in Sri Lanka. They have played a crucial role in whipping up anti-Tamil feelings among the Sinhala people.

Q: Do you think that the Buddhist clergy is well on its way to establishing Sri Lanka as a Sinhala Buddhist nation ?

A: Sri Lanka is already a Sinhala Buddhist nation and the Buddhist clergy has contributed a lot for this cause.

Q: Is it the result of the Buddhist clergy's chauvinism or is it the result of a natural alignment following the Catholic clergy's association with the Tamils.?

A: The Buddhist clergy's chauvinism has played a significant role in the establishment of a racist state system. Sections of the Tamil Catholic clergy sympathise with the Tamil cause but the Sinhala Catholic clergy displays strong Sinhala national chauvinism and are opposed to the Tamil demands.

Q: Do you have ties with other liberation movements of the world? Which are the organisations who provide training and arms to the LTTE?

A: We have ties with other world liberation movements. I cannot answer the second part of your question.

Q: Which country in the world has proved to be most sympathetic to your cause?

A: I do not wish to comment on this matter.

Q: What is your ideological commitment?

A: Revolutionary socialism.

Q: Do you expect attacks on the Tamils in the future?

A: Yes, I do. The forces of racism and fascism are actively working against the Tamils in Trincomalee and Vavuniya. Tamils will never be safe until they establish an independent state of Tamil Eelam with a powerful patriotic army to protect their life and property

Q: Is it true that Israelis are training Sinhalese army men on the techniques of anti-guerrilla warfare?

A: So far we haven't got any confirmed reports about the presence of Israeli military experts in Sri Lanka. If the reports are true I won't be surprised. Sri Lanka is turning into a base for US imperialism and its agents. Whoever the trainers are or whatever their expertise maybe. the Sinhala army cannot crush the will and determination of the Tigers. We have a great moral power. a supreme sense of sacrifice, and a noble cause.

Q: What is you r reaction to the alleged heavy induction of arms and ammunition from the United States to Sri Lanka?

A: Induction of US arms is not only a threat to the Tamil freedom movement but also to India's national security. America's objective as you will certainly be aware. is not simply confined to helping the Sri Lankan army to crush the Tamil liberation struggle. Their ultimate aim is to secure a naval base at Trincomalee. Such a happening will convert the Indian Ocean into a war zone, and will increase the tension prevalent in the region.

Q: If and when Eelam is achieved what sort of a nation do you conceive it to be?

A: Tamil Eelam will be a socialist state. By socialism I mean an egalitarian society where human freedom and individual liberties will be guaranteed, where all forms of oppression and exploitation will be abolished. It will be a free society where our people will have maximum opportunity to develop their economy and promote their culture. Tamil Eelam will be a neutral state, committed to non- alignment and friendly to India. respecting her regional policies, particularly the policy of making the Indian Ocean a zone of peace.

Q: In your estimate how long will it take to achieve this Eelam?

A: There cannot be a blueprint or a time limit for a freedom struggle. Everything depends on the situation in our homeland and happenings on the international scene.

LTTE Elements in Upcountry with Police Patronage

“Many youth would like to support Tamil Eelam because they are worried about the country's political system. Some of the top level LTTE cadres have been living in some of our areas. They are successfully preaching on the LTTE’s way of liberation to Tamil youth.”

A shocking report of increased LTTE activity under police protection was heard while we visited the Upcountry area a few days ago. Our visit covered Haton, Badulla, Bandarawela, Nuwaraeliya, Ragala, and Udapussellawa. The story is the same everywhere. This is an area of Sri Lanka where Tamils preponderate and maintain close friendship with the Sinhalese majority of the Country.

The area is beautiful and the people live without fear for their lives compared to the war affected areas in the country. Indeed they enjoy life. The area became a relative paradise after Black July. The catastrophe of racist violence in Sri Lanka has been on the wane since the early 90s. The Upcountry had become a particularly peaceful area, free even of the bombs and killings that periodically wracked Colombo.

“The area is beautiful and the people live without fear for their lives compared to the war affected areas in the country. Indeed they enjoy life. The area became a relative paradise after Black July. The catastrophe of racist violence in Sri Lanka has been on the wane since the early 90s.”

However, the situation has been changing a little by little as the area was transformed into an LTTE dominant area. Hundreds of LTTE cadres were moving in and locals recruited without any problem.

Our sources claim that known LTTE cadres travel in the area without any obstacles.
According Perumal, a retired government servant, “Many youth would like to support Tamil Eelam because they are worried about the country's political system. Some of the top level LTTE cadres have been living in some of our areas. They are successfully preaching on the LTTE’s way of liberation to Tamil youth.”

“Some youth also went to LTTE controlled areas and took weapons training. Parents do not know of these developments as they believe that their children are seeking new jobs in Colombo,” he added.

Furthermore, LTTE cadres in the Upcountry have been involved in random kidnappings and various anti-social activities, he said.

“These persons have been arrested so many times by the Police but they were always released in the following days without any punishment. They are responsible for so many robberies, attempted murders and murders in the area."

Meanwhile, some elements in the Upcountry police are also supporting the LTTE elements due to financial support from Wanni. The Badulla police are especially noted for this by locals. Even some at officer-level in the area strongly offer support to the LTTE because of personal enmities or benefits.

Two of the most important LTTE persons have been involved with many crimes in Badulla. One cannot walk about some of the places in Badulla after 7.00 O’clock in the evening because of this. Police in Badulla have recorded some of the largest crime figures within one day. But the reaction or investigation by police for the crimes has been scandalously slow. Following their arrests, some of these most dangerous parsons were released on bail within a few hours by the Police in Badulla.

Raman Ravi Chandran who is in living at the address No 12 Laime, Elakaluwapan, New Phase, Hali Ela, and Welaudan Balamurali who is at Office Junction , Nil Amba , Galaha are two of the most important elements of the LTTE who have led so many crimes in the area including killing of innocent persons.

According the neighbours of both of them, "These persons have been arrested so many times by the Police but they were always released in the following days without any punishment. They are responsible for so many robberies, attempted murders and murders in the area."

Said a neighbour, “They have lots of money but they do not hold any obvious job that is paying them.”

"These two persons are strongly allied with the intelligence net work of the LTTE and they have had good weapons training under the LTTE," a Tamil youth living near Ravichandran's home told the Sri Lanka Guardian.

Both these criminal have visited LTTE controlled areas once a month to share new developments in the area with new intelligence records, sources said.

The peaceful situation in the area has been deteriorating as the power of the LTTE in the area is ascendant. People in the area know very well about the elements of the LTTE and who they are. But security persons do not seem to be countering these fearful developments in any way.


Athirady.com to expose LTTE soon

The Tamil daily "Athirady.com" which had been collecting the names of the peoples who were killed by the Liberations Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) during the past will finally publish its research material during this week, according to sources from Athirady.

The Web site based in Switzerland a center of Tamil democratic political activities in Tamil Diaspora. Recently, Athirady officials had collected hundreds of the names to compile this research document on LTTE killings of all are Sri Lankan including Tamils , Sinhalease and Muslims

"We are collecting this lists of names to expose Prabhakara's and his organization's ruthless activities among the Tamil Community. We plan to complete details report and hand it over to the UN, EU, India and IC," according to a senior Athirady official.

Furthermore, the athirady officials also requested the public to assist this project by sending any available data to them.

You can e-mail articles, suggestions and comment to athirady@yahoo.com

“Terrorism is no longer accepted as a legitimate means of political expression”

The LTTE who are branded as a terrorist organization by most of the democracies in the world will be dealt by the Foreign Service as such. We will not keep a low profile. We will counter the LTTE, as a terrorist organisation in our foreign missions and this is a clear instruction that has gone to all our missions abroad. We will join the world in the world’s efforts to counter terrorism.

Q: Dr. Kohona, what was the purpose of this visit to London?

A: I came here on my way back home from a very quick visit to Eastern Europe. I went to Prague first for bi-lateral consultations with the Czech Republic.

These are consultations on an official level and I led the Sri Lankan delegation. We also negotiated a bi-lateral investment protection agreement with the Czech Republic. I then went to Zagreb. Croatia will be in the Security Council from next year and it’s a country that we have had very little contact in the past. I was using my personal contacts I made when I was in New York to create the linkages that we will find useful in the future.

From there I went to Slovenia who will occupy the Presidency of the EU from January. Again, this is a country that does not have an accredited ambassador to Sri Lanka. It was considered important to develop these connections. On the way back I stopped in London almost for less than a day because I had a dinner arrangement with a number of people including members of the House of Lords. I also had a meeting with Baroness Green Grass of Nottingham in the House of Lords who is a great friend of Sri Lanka.

Q: You have assumed duties as the Foreign Secretary early this year. What have you done so far to improve the Foreign Service?

A: As part of the policy of the Sri Lanka government, we have given certain guide lines to Foreign Office staff. The Foreign Service has goals to achieve. Those goals consist of the objectives of the Government. The Foreign Service is no longer considered to be traditional in its approach. Today the Foreign Office is required first and foremost to counter the threats to Sri Lanka from various elements including the LTTE.

The LTTE who are branded as a terrorist organization by most of the democracies in the world will be dealt by the Foreign Service as such. We will not keep a low profile. We will counter the LTTE, as a terrorist organisation in our foreign missions and this is a clear instruction that has gone to all our missions abroad.

We will join the world in the world’s efforts to counter terrorism.
As you know since 9/11 the United States is now actively opposed to terrorism. Terrorism is no longer accepted as a legitimate means of political expression. We will join that approach. It is a part of us.

In addition, to emphasise our efforts to counter the LTTE overseas through the Foreign Service, particularly its propaganda machine, we will emphasise the need to advance Sri Lanka’s commercial and economic interests. The Foreign Service will be used as an effective tool in advancing the commercial and economic interests of the country. We will try to develop new markets. We will try to expand our exports. We will create new opportunities for us overseas.

The Foreign Service will be also active in advancing Sri Lanka’s tourism and will use the Foreign Service as a tool to attract more tourists. Basically,to create a certain comfort level in the minds of potential tourists. We are very much concerned about, attracting foreign investments to Sri Lanka. The Foreign Service has been empowered.

4 civilians kills :LTTE leader marks his birthday

At least four civilians were killed by a group suspected to be LTTE in Maha Willachchiya, a boarder village in Anuradhapura district as LTTE supremo marks his 53rd birthday today.

"Bullets ridden bodies, including a female were found at around 08.45am,all were farmers according to villagers",a senior military official said.

Army has started cordon and search operation in the area and hundreds of heavily armed soldiers seen in the area, residents said.

According to Military sources, the innocent civilians killed were identified as;

Herath Mudiyanselage Ekanayake (Male)

Rajapaksha Mudiyanselage Punchibanda (Male)

Ellage Hemapala (Male)

P.S. Leelawathi Podi Manike (Female)

"Ellage Hemapala and Leelawathi Podi Manike were husband and wife, who were also traditional farmers like the others killed today (26)", Mahawilachchiya Police said.

Similarly 05 civilians were killed in two different incidents in Ranminithenna,a boarder village near Yala National Park early this month.

Security forces have arrested at least 08 persons regarding those incidents and all are Sinhalese, police sources said.

Sri Lanka Bombs Rebel Bases Before Leader's Address

Sri Lanka attacked command posts of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam before today's annual policy speech by the rebel leader on a year of fighting that saw the group driven from the east and the death of its political chief.

The air force raided two ``high profile'' LTTE hideouts in the north yesterday, one of them near the rebel headquarters at Kilinochchi, the Defense Ministry said. Jets bombed two ``densely populated'' areas, injuring one civilian, TamilNet reported on its Web site.

Velupillai Prabhakaran, the LTTE leader, is scheduled to give his annual statement later today. The death of S.P. Thamilchelvan, the head of the political wing, in a Nov. 2 air raid increased the group's resolve to achieve a separate homeland, he said at the time.

The Tamil Tigers, designated a terrorist group by the U.S., the European Union and India, are holding areas of northern Sri Lanka after the army won control of Eastern Province in July. The group has been fighting for 24 years in a conflict that has resulted in more than 70,000 deaths.

The military has increased operations against the Tamil Tigers in the north since July, attacking bases of the rebel naval unit known as the Sea Tigers.

Leaders Targeted

``We are after'' Prabhakaran, Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said in an interview with Agence France-Presse in the capital, Colombo, yesterday. ``We are specifically targeting their leadership.''

Tamil Tiger leaders are being restricted in their movements from their jungle bases, he said.

``The killing of Thamilchelvan sent a very powerful message,'' the defense secretary said. ``They know we have good intelligence on their movements.''

The LTTE has to be defeated militarily, he added. ``Then a political solution becomes possible.''

Air force jets two days ago raided a satellite communications center near Kilinochchi, reducing the rebels' intelligence gathering capability, the Defense Ministry said.

Four civilians were killed when bombs hit a settlement, TamilNet reported on its Web site Nov. 25. Yesterday's air raid damaged 13 houses in Jayanthinakar, a suburb of Kilinochchi, and in Puthukkudiyiruppu, it said.

Rebels killed four villagers in an attack at Mahawilachchiya in the north yesterday, the Defense Ministry said on its Web site. Seven people were injured, five of them children, when rebel artillery shells hit a school near Mannar in the northwest, it said.

Indian Navy

The LTTE has changed its arms smuggling operations after India's navy increased patrols off the coast of the southern state of Tamil Nadu that lies about a two-hour boat ride across the waters from Sri Lanka, India's state-run broadcaster Doordarshan reported.

The group is moving its operations to Kerala on India's southwestern coast, Doordarshan cited Vice Admiral Sunil Damle, who heads India's Southern Naval Command, as saying yesterday.

Navy patrols that began earlier this year have made Tamil Nadu's coast virtually impenetrable, Damle said.

An estimated 60,000 Sri Lankans live in camps in Tamil Nadu after fleeing fighting.

Political Settlement

Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in his budget speech to Parliament Nov. 7, vowed to ``eradicate'' terrorism from the South Asian island.

The Tamil Tigers have ``demonstrated that they will never be ready to surrender arms and agree to a democratic political settlement,'' he said.

Rajapaksa's government rejects any peace proposal that envisages the division of the country while saying it is prepared to devolve some power to the regions.

Fighting between the army and the LTTE intensified last year as two attempts at peace talks in Geneva failed. The LTTE has an estimated 12,000 fighters and 4,000 Sea Tigers.

Tamils made up 11.9 percent of Sri Lanka's 20 million people in 2001, the government's Census and Statistics Department said. Sinhalese made up almost 74 percent of the population.

Prabhakaran Birthday

Sri Lanka's government has marked the birthday of Tamil Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, seen here, with a vow to kill him

Sri Lanka vows to kill Tamil Tiger leader

Sri Lanka's government has marked the birthday of Tamil Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran with a vow to kill him.

The island's powerful defence secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapakse, said Colombo now had the upper hand in the long-running conflict, with the elusive guerrilla chief limited in both his movements and ability to score strategic victories.

Earlier this month the political head of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), S.P. Thamilselvan, was killed in what the government said was a precision air strike on the north and not a mere lucky hit.

"The killing of Thamilselvan sent a very powerful message: they know we have good intelligence on their movements," Rajapakse told AFP in an interview Monday at the heavily-fortified defence ministry in Colombo.

Monday was also the day the LTTE chief marked his 53rd birthday, and Rajapakse said that if all goes to plan it will be his last.

"We are after him. We are specifically targeting their leadership," he said.

"For the last few months he (Prabhakaran) has been even more restricted in his movements. We want to keep them under pressure. We are gathering intelligence, information."

The threat came as Prabhakaran was set to give his annual speech from a jungle hideout in his northern mini-state marking the end of "heroes' week", commemorating around 20,000 Tamils who have died fighting for a separate homeland.

Prabhakaran's speech, due to be broadcast later Tuesday, will come at the end of a year of several setbacks for the LTTE.

Government forces regained full control over the east of the island in July, and have also managed to sink what the government says is the bulk of the rebels' fabled fleet of gun-running ships.

The outspoken defence secretary, who is also the brother of the island's president, insisted that the tide of the 35-year-old conflict -- Asia's longest-running civil war -- was finally turning in the government's favour.

He also signalled that the year ahead would see a renewed escalation of the conflict, finally closing a chapter of "phoney war' that began with a 2002 Norwegian-brokered ceasefire and its progressive collapse.

"Our objective is to weaken them. We have to defeat them militarily, we have to control Wanni," he said of the LTTE's northern stronghold.

"It is possible. We just have to squeeze them. Then a political solution becomes possible," the defence secretary said, repeating his view that the Tamil Tigers only used a truce to smuggle in more arms and can therefore only be bombed into peace.

Prabhakaran, in his speech Tuesday, is also expected to cast aside any talk of diplomacy and issue a rallying call to his thousands of hardened guerrillas.

The LTTE supremo, renowned for his ability to bring out the suicidal tendencies in his followers, has also managed to withstand successive government offensives in the past.

And over the past year, he has unleashed new weapons -- namely light aircraft sent on nocturnal missions to strike as far south as the capital and damage Sri Lanka's economy in the process.

"Black Tiger" suicide squads have also been active.

Still, Rajapakse brushed aside the significance of such rebel attacks.

"In the end it's just symbolic. it affects morale, but strategically it makes no difference," said the defence secretary, who narrowly survived a suicide bomber sent by Prabhakaran last year.

"In the end, what have they gained during the last 20 to 30 years? Just destroyed property and destroyed lives."

Friday, November 23, 2007

Political Double Speak in Tamilnadu

The Tamil Nadu chief minister simply cannot afford to have a 'personal view' different from the Union government's policy prescription when it comes to issues of national security. One can see the signs of Tamilnadu politicians trying to use the death of Thamilchelvan to gather some mass support, perhaps for their own gain and the Congress party trying to soft pedal the issue for political reasons. The LTTE fighting with its back to the wall, needs Tamilnadu's political, financial and material support now, more than the people of Tamilnadu need the LTTE.

The sudden passion exhibited by the political leaders of Tamilnadu, while mourning the death of SP Thamilchelvan, the political head and chief negotiator of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), is typical of the double speak most of the politicians of the state have been practising on issues relating to the LTTE.
Perhaps the Chief Minister M Karunanidhi's ode paying tribute to the "courage and valour" of the slain LTTE leader on the occasion, particularly when the state is supposed to be carrying out a crackdown on the LTTE militants operating in the state, is a prime example of this. In recent times, the chief minister has repeatedly said that his policy on Sri Lanka was the same as that of the government of India. His response to the strong objections of to the Chief Minister's response to Thamilchelvan's death when his bĂȘte noire Jayalalithaa, the leader of All India Anna DMK, showed how he has mastered the art of doublespeak. He said that he had only made a 'humanitarian gesture' towards a fellow Tamil. "The person who was killed in Sri Lanka was a Tamil. And the blood that runs in me is Tamil too. So, I extended my condolence," he added.

Of course, conveniently he did not remember that the leaders brutally killed by the LTTE like Amirthalingam, Ranjan Padmanabha, and Neelan Thiruchelvam also had Tamil blood running in their vein. Nor did he think of his close friend of early days of Eelam militancy, Sri Sabaratnam, leader of Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO), massacred by the LTTE. But then, Tamilnadu politics had always considered some Tamils are more 'Tamil' than some others; after all this had been the cornerstone of Tamilnadu politics.

The comments of Cho Ramaswamy, editor of 'Tuglak' known for airing his views freely, on the chief minister's approach to the Eelam Tamil issue is interesting. In an interview with www.rediff.com on May 16, 2000 Cho succinctly summed it up thus: "Karunanidhi always takes great pride in being hailed as a leader of Tamils wherever they live, and there is no Tamil issue as such in India now. Earlier, you had this anti-Hindi platform; then came the anti-north Indian platform. Now, none of those issues are relevant. So, what is the only Tamil issue available now? It is the Sri Lankan issue. If he doesn't occupy that platform, it will become the monopoly of Ramadoss (leader of the Pattali Makkal Katchi and partner of the ruling coalition at Delhi) and Vaiko (leader of the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and a vocal supporter of the LTTE). He is not able to digest the situation. That is why he wants to go on record as having made some noise about this." One can only hope that Cho's comments are still hold good.

Almost all the political leaders of Tamilnadu, including the Communists, were quick to come out passionate messages of condolence on Thamilchelvan's death. Perhaps, the Communists had a nagging guilt feeling when they joined the condolence bandwagon remembering the entire leadership of the only Leftist Tamil insurgent group Eelam Peoples Revolutionary Front (EPRLF), who had close contact with them, was wiped out in Chennai by the LTTE in Tamilnadu. Their wording of the condolence message was appropriately carefully worded.

The Congress party was one exception. It had no choice in any case. However, compulsions coalition politics perhaps made the senior Congress leader M Veerappa Moily, to brush aside the chief minister's remarks as "personal views." However, the Union Minister of State G.K. Vasan, the leading light of the party in the state, was more forthright. He said the Congress has "neither forgotten the gruesome murder of its leader Rajiv Gandhi nor forgiven the perpetrators of the crime." It was in an earlier spell of Karunanidhi's regime that a LTTE suicide bomber had killed the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991. A few months before Rajiv's killing, the same killers gunned down the EPRLF leaders while the Tamilnadu police conveniently stepped aside.

There is some confusion in understanding among non-Tamils of the Tamil mindset (including Indians and Sri Lankans) about their support to the LTTE. This confusion is understandable as it prevails even among some people in Tamilnadu also .The people of Tamilnadu, like most of the Tamils all over the world, have always supported the struggle of Sri Lanka Tamils for their democratic rights. They will continue to do so till the Tamil aspirations are satisfied. Tamilnadu extended passionate support when the Tamil struggle turned into militancy in 1982. The support to militants gained legitimacy in after the Sri Lanka government inspired Black July pogrom against Tamils was carried out. Different Tamil political parties patronised different Tamil groups. While TELO had Karunanidhi as a patron, his political rival MG Ramachandran naturally favoured the LTTE, which was contending with TELO for leadership of Tamil militancy. At the Centre, Mrs Indira Gandhi, the prime minister of India, during the crucial years of the growth of Tamil militancy found it politically expedient to provide sanctuary and lend support to the Tamil militancy.

However, two developments split this support base for militants in Tamilnadu in 1987: the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord, and the induction of the Indian Peace Keeping Force. The military involvement of the IPKF against the LTTE was not accepted by most of the Tamil people, who had romantic notions about it. But this notion was shattered when the LTTE carried out the killing of Rajiv Gandhi after meticulous planning. And after Vaiko, then a popular leader of the DMK, fell out with Karunanidhi over his overt support to the LTTE (among many other internal issues), there had been a change in Karunanidhi's attitude. He had studiously distanced himself from the LTTE, when the people of the state adversely came out against the LTTE when Rajiv Gandhi was killed. Though the LTTE had been trying to cultivate him for sometime now, he had been careful in talking about them on the subject.

Commenting on the aspects of Tamilnadu's attitudes, I had commented in an article (Sri Lanka update 97 of July 30, 2006 'Engaging Sri Lanka: India's potpourri' ) last year: "The Sri Lanka Tamil issue is no more in the centre stage of Tamilnadu public or political agenda. However, if war breaks out in full scale and the refugee inflows increase it will make reappearance as the bread and butter issue of minor political partners in the central coalition. In principle the DMK is unlikely to change its stand in such circumstances. However, political compulsions will compel it to toe the same line. LTTE has probably enough 'sleepers' who will become active in such a situation. This could not only prove embarrassing to GOI, but also affect national security, as LTTE could make silent inroads to establish its support facilities in Tamilnadu as it did in 1987-90. It would reflect poorly on the GOI's ability to fight against terrorism and insurgency in its own backyard. And that would not be in the larger interest of India-Sri Lanka relations either." This is still valid.

The Tamil Nadu chief minister simply cannot afford to have a 'personal view' different from the Union government's policy prescription when it comes to issues of national security. One can see the signs of Tamilnadu politicians trying to use the death of Thamilchelvan to gather some mass support, perhaps for their own gain and the Congress party trying to soft pedal the issue for political reasons. The LTTE fighting with its back to the wall, needs Tamilnadu's political, financial and material support now, more than the people of Tamilnadu need the LTTE. In this ambience, mollycoddling the LTTE is a dangerous game not only for Tamilnadu leaders, but also for the state and the nation. In the past many have paid their price for such attempts. It is good to remember that the LTTE always has its self interests first and last. Right now it has one and only priority fighting it out with the Sri Lanka government; all other issues including Tamil leaders and people come after that, if at all the organisation has any space to spare.

Maritime Counter Terrorism

First, terrorists hijacking a huge oil or gas tanker and exploding it in mid-sea or in a major port in order to cause huge human, material and environmental damage. There were 67 reported attacks on oil and gas tankers by pirates during 2004. This despite the stepped-up patrolling by the Navies of different countries. What pirates with no ideological motive and with no suicidal fervour can do, ideologically-driven suicide terrorists can do with equal, if not greater, ease.

The attack, stated to be by Al Qaeda, on the US naval ship USS Cole at Aden in October,2000, and the subsequent investigation into that incident gave birth to concerns that international terrorists might expand their acts of terrorism from the land to the sea. Terrorist groups of West Asia and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had indulged in acts of maritime terrorism even before October,2000, and the LTTE, through its fleet of ships, ostensibly used for legitimate commercial purposes, had been using the sea for the clandestine transport of arms and ammunition and other material required for its acts of terrorism on the land. However, such uses had limited tactical objectives and did not think in terms of mass casualties or mass damage to be inflicted on the global economy as a whole.

The 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US and the precision and the evil ingenuity with which they were planned and executed created a wave of alarm about the likelihood of similar strikes at coastal and maritime targets.Since 9/11, there is hardly any discussion, governmental or non-governmental, on threats to national security and to international peace and security in which possible threats from maritime terrorism do not figure prominently.Post-9/11, scenario-building exercises have invariably included scenarios involving possible catastrophic acts of maritime terrorism. Four of these possible scenarios are or should be of major concern to national security managers:

First, terrorists hijacking a huge oil or gas tanker and exploding it in mid-sea or in a major port in order to cause huge human, material and environmental damage. There were 67 reported attacks on oil and gas tankers by pirates during 2004. This despite the stepped-up patrolling by the Navies of different countries. What pirates with no ideological motive and with no suicidal fervour can do, ideologically-driven suicide terrorists can do with equal, if not greater, ease.

Second, terrorists hijacking an oil or gas tanker or a bulk-carrier and exploding it or scuttling it in maritime choke-points such as the Malacca Strait in order to cause a major disruption of energy supplies and global trade. There were 52 reported attacks on bulk carriers by pirates during 2004. If the pirates can do it despite naval patrolling, so can the terrorists.

Three, terrorists smuggling weapon of mass destruction material such as radiological waste or lethal chemicals or even biological weapons in a container and having it exploded through a cellular phone as soon as the vessel carrying the container reaches a major port.

Four, sea-borne terrorists attacking a nuclear establishment or an oil refinery or off-shore oil platforms.

American maritime counter-terrorism experts have been projecting the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean region as highly vulnerable, if not the most vulnerable,to such catastrophic acts of maritime terrorism. Amongst factors influencing their perceptions are:

First, the presence in this region of terrorist or insurgent organisations with proved or suspected capabilities for maritime operations. Amongst the organisations coming to mind are the LTTE of Sri Lanka, with proved capabilities for maritime operations, conventional as well as unconventional; and the Abu Sayyaf of Southern Philippines, with its proclaimed readiness to extend its operations from the land to the sea.
Second, the wide networking of Al Qaeda across this region---either through its own members or through surrogate jihadi terrorist organisations, which are members or associates of the International Islamic Front (IIF) for Jihad Against the Crusaders and the Jewish People formed by it in 1998. The existence of this networking had been suspected since the discovery of a Manila-based plot under Ramzi Yousef in 1995 for spectacular acts of terrorism directed at civil aviation. Corroboratory details emerged after 9/11---particularly during the investigation of the Bali explosion in October,2002.

Third,the long-known reputation of this area as the world's leading producer and supplier of heroin from the Golden Triangle and the Golden Crescent and its recent emergence as a producer and supplier of synthetic drugs. Drug money, which was first allegedly used by the US' Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) for funding their operations against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s, has since become an important source of revenue for insurgent and terrorist organisations in the Latin American and Asian regions. Amongst organisations of the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean region, which are known or suspected to be using drug money to finance their operations are the Hamas, the Hizbollah, Al Qaeda, the various Pakistani jihadi organisations, the LTTE, the United Wa State Army of Myanmar and the jihadi terrorist organisations of the Southern Philippines.

Four, the continuing availability in this region----in Pakistan as well as in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia--- of large quantities of arms and ammunition to anyone with the means to pay for them and with the capability for their clandestine transport to areas of intended use.

Five, the presence in this region of terrorist organisations such as the LTTE with a commercial shipping capability, which can be diverted for the clandestine transport of narcotics and arms and ammunition.

Six, the presence in this region of trans-national mafia groups such as the one headed by Karachi-based Dawood Ibrahim with vast financial resources, a capability for clandestine shipping and a willingness to place their resources and shipping at the disposal of Al Qaeda and other jihadi terrorist organisations operating across the region.
Seven, the long-known(to India), but only recently admitted role of Pakistan as the region's leading supermarket for nuclear weapon-capable material and equipment and the nexus of some of its scientists, enjoying the protection of its Army, with Al Qaeda and other jihadi terrorist organisations. Recent investigations into the proliferation activities of A.Q.Khan & Co have brought out how they had outsourced proliferation responsibilities to others in countries such as Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates, thus possibly sowing the seeds for nuclear or radiological terrorism. The detailed post-9/11 investigations have brought out as to how there was a Pakistani involvement in all major acts of international jihadi terrorism since the New York World Trade Centre explosion of February,1993. Recent investigations by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of Vienna have brought out an ubiquitous Pakistani hand in all clandestine proliferation commerce across the Asian and the African regions.
Eight, the presence in this region of tempting choke-points such as the oft-mentioned Malacca Strait through which pass a half of the world's oil and a third of its trade. The annual shipping traffic across the region rose from 44,000 in 1999 to over 62,000 in 2003. It is since believed to have risen further. There is a large volume of container traffic originating in this rapidly developing region. It has been estimated that 48 per cent of the global container traffic passes through this region.

Nine, the reputation of this area as one of the most piracy-prone in the world. There has been an increase in the tactical sophistication of pirates. The International Maritime Bureau has been quoted by the media as saying that pirates now break into freight companies' computer systems, change order forms, arrange for changes in shipping, and then intercept the shipment. This is especially a problem in the South China Sea and around Indonesia. There is still no conclusive evidence of the nexus of any group of pirates with terrorist organisations, but fears that the pirates of today may turn into accomplices or mentors of terrorists of tomorrow strongly influence threat perceptions.
Ten, the presence of a large number of uninhabited islands in the region, which serve as sanctuaries and operational bases for the pirates and could similarly serve for the terrorists tomorrow.

While there are thus growing concerns over the likelihood of catastrophic acts of maritime terrorism, it needs to be underlined that there is no unanimity among counter-terrorism analysts about the magnitude of the threat. Skeptics feel that while the possibility of catastrophic acts of maritime terrorism has to be taken seriously, one has to keep in mind that there has been a certain over-projection and over-dramatisation of the threat by embedded analysts of the US in order to serve its own strategic objectives in the region. There is similar skepticism in certain circles regarding the correctness of the statistics relating to piracy attacks. It is alleged that often trivial incidents and instances of misappropriation or theft of goods by the crew of ships are reported as due to piracy attacks.

Despite such misgivings among sections of the policy-makers, senior intelligence officials of the countries of the South-East Asian region take seriously the possibility of a major act of maritime terrorism in the region. According to them, terrorist organisations active in the region had contemplated such acts in the past, though they might not have carried them out. In August,2004, the "Jakarta Post" quoted Hendropriyono, of Indonesia's State Intelligence Agency, as saying :"Senior Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists now in detention have admitted that attacks on Malacca shipping traffic had been contemplated in the recent past."

The growing concern over the likelihood of a catastrophic act of maritime terrorism has led to measures for increasing physical security. Amongst such measures, one could cite the co-ordinated patrolling by the navies of the region, the strict enforcement of the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code adopted in December,2002, which went into effect globally in July, 2004,and attempts towards a similar strict enforcement of the Container Security Initiative.

The concern is also reflected in the frequent joint exercises by the Navies of the region with maritime counter-terrorism as an important objective of the exercises and the large number of conferences and seminars held on the subject in the countries of the region during the last two years. The role of non-governmental experts in creating a better awareness of the threat and in proposing measures for meeting it has also been increasingly recognised.

At the same time, the still lingering misgivings that the threat is being magnified by the US to serve its strategic objectives in the region have come in the way of regional countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia agreeing to a greater participation by the US in the regional initiatives such as joint or co-ordinated patrolling of the Malacca Strait. Their contention is that any such US participation or assistance should be at their instance when they feel the need for it and not at the instance of the US. These have also created doubts about the real purpose of other US ideas such as the Regional Maritime Security Initiative (RMSI).

Amongst the countries of the region,the policy-making circles of India, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan and Australia have shown the greatest awareness of the threat of catastrophic maritime terrorism and of the need to develop the required maritime counter-terrorism capabilities, individually as well as through mutual assistance. The policy-making circles of Indonesia too have shown a considerable awareness of the threat, but their capability to translate this awareness into the required action is still weak. In the case of maritime terrorism too, as in the case of land-based terrorism, Bangladesh continues to be in a denial mode-- showing neither an awareness nor a willingness to co-operate with others.

Maritime counter-terrorism has received considerable attention in India, but till recently the focus was naturally and mostly on maritime counter-terrorism and security in the waters off Sri Lanka and in the Malacca Strait. There was till last year inadequate attention to terrorist threats of a strategic nature from the seas to the West of India---- whether from the Gulf, the Arabian Sea, the Strait of Hormuz or the Mediterranean.

Over 80 per cent of the terrorist organisations with a capability for maritime terrorism operate in the areas and seas to the West of India. Over 90 per cent of successful maritime terrorism strikes have taken place in the areas and seas to the West of India. Israel has been the largest single victim of maritime terrorism in the Mediterrannean, with nearly 60 strikes by organisations such as the Hamas, the Hizbollah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) etc. The only two successful strikes and one unsuccessful attempt by Al Qaeda were off Aden. Almost our entire energy supplies come from this area. The security of the Malacca Strait has limited relevance for our energy security, whereas our entire energy security depends on maritime security in the areas to the West of India.

There have been many instances of maritime terrorism in the waters to the West of India since 1985 carried out by the Palestinians, the LTTE and the Chechens. The acts of maritime terrorism carried out by the Palestinians and the Chechens were confined to acts such as hijacking of ferries and holding the passengers in custody in order to achieve demands of a tactical nature, attacks from the sea on coastal military targets etc. The LTTE developed a dreaded Sea Tigers wing, which specialised in suicide tactics such as ramming explosives-laden boats against chosen targets on the coast, in ports or on the sea. The Al Qaeda attacks on the US Naval ship, USS Cole, in October,2000, and on the French oil tanker Limberg in October,2002---both off Aden--- were in emulation of the tactics developed by the LTTE and involved ramming a boat laden with explosives.

Among other illustrative incidents of maritime terrorism in the waters to the West of India before 9/11, one could mention the following:

The hijacking of the Italian-flagged cruise ship P/V Achille Lauro in 1985 off Port Said, Egypt, by terrorists of the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF), who held the ship with 180 passengers and 331 crew members on board, hostage, demanding the release of 50 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. They killed an invalid Jewish American passenger, before negotiating the release of the rest of the hostages. .
In 1994, the LTTE shipped 50 metric tons of TNT and ten metric tons of RDX explosives on board one of their own freighters, operated by a front company called Carlton Trading, from a Ukrainian Black Sea port via the Turkish Straits to Sri Lanka. It also hijacked in 1997 a freighter called "Stillus Limassul", loaded with more than 30,000 81mm mortar rounds, worth over three million dollars. The owning and operation by the LTTE and by the PKK, the Kurdish organisation, of ocean-going ships, which were normally used for legitimate commercial activities and, when needed, also for facilitating acts of terrorism like hijacking, arms transport and seizure.

In January 1996, nine pro-Chechen gunmen (six Turks of Abhkaz origin, two Chechens, and an ethnic Abkhaz from Georgia) hijacked a Turkish ferry in the Black Sea and kept 255 passengers and crew hostage for three days. They threatened to blow up the vessel and their hostages, but released the ferry and the passengers after negotiations with the Turkish authorities. The Turkish authorities had alleged that in order to draw attention to the Chechen cause, the hijackers had earlier considered blowing up one of the two suspension bridges over the Bosphorus with explosives in order to block the Strait to traffic.

However, none of these incidents, though serious by themselves, could be described as mass casualty or mass destruction or mass damage terrorism. The intelligence and security agencies were alerted to the dangers of acts of catastrophic maritime terrorism by the arrest of the organizer of the Limburg attack, a Saudi national of Yemeni origin called Abd al Rahman al Nashiri, who was also suspected to have been involved in the attack on the USS Cole. His interrogation brought in information about Al Qaeda's preparations to attack ships in the Mediterranean and elsewhere using tactics such as ramming, blowing up medium-sized ships near other vessels or at ports, attacking large vessels such as supertankers from the air by using explosive-laden small aircraft, and attacking vessels with underwater demolition teams using limpet mines or with suicide bombers. During his interrogation, Nashiri also reportedly revealed that if warships became too difficult to approach, tourist ships could be targeted. Amongst the documents reportedly captured from him was one giving details of Western Cruise ships, which could be attacked if a suitable opportunity presented itself. His interrogation brought out that Al Qaeda had also planned an operation to bomb American and British warships in the Strait of Gibraltar, off the northern coast of Morocco.
One would have, therefore, expected that the concentration of our maritime counter-terrorism efforts would have been on building a database of capabilities, threats and risks from the areas and seas to the West of India, adopting a vigorous proactive policy of co-operation with the navies of this region and developing preventive and termination capabilities, which would have relevance in the areas to the West of India. Unfortunately, this was not so.

The Americans did not want our Navy playing any proactive role in maritime security in the waters to the West of India lest it cause any undue concern in the minds of Pakistan. They, therefore, tried to keep our Navy confined to the East and the Malacca Strait. Till last year,we seemed to be happy to go along with this role.

Presently, the deployment of a large number of naval ships belonging to the US-led coalition has thwarted any other serious incident of maritime terrorism after the suspected Al Qaeda attack on Limburg in October, 2002 and the attacks on oil terminals in Iraq post-April, 2003. We should not leave the protection of our shipping and our energy supplies totally in the hands of the US-led coalition. We should develop our own capabilities and networking with the countries of the region.

Against this background, one is gratified to note the correctives to India's maritime security policy, which have been sought to be given by Admiral Suresh Mehta, India's new Chief of the Naval Staff (CONS), so soon after taking over by giving it a "Look West Dimension" to complement the "Look East Dimension", which has dominated our thinking and policies so far. The "Look East Dimension" continues to be important for our power projection, but our capability for self-defence against conventional and unconventional threats will be weakened without the "Look West Dimension" brought in by our new Naval Chief. He needs to be complimented for thinking and acting fast.

As the starting block for putting in motion his "Look West Dimension", he chose the United Arab Emirates (UAE). One need not have any qualms over his decision. The UAE is as important from the point of view of our maritime security as Kuwait is. It is very significant that his first overseas visit since taking over as the chief was to the UAE. It is not as if our Navy did not have any interactions with the UAE and other friendly nations to the West of us before Admiral Mehta took over.The Indian and the UAE Navies held joint exercises in November 1995 during the visit of three Indian naval ships. Indian Navy's aircraft carrier INS-Virat and two other ships visited the UAE in March 1999. In 2004, Rear Admiral Pratap Singh Byce, Flag Officer Commanding, Western Command, visited the UAE, leading four ships. But such interactions were few and far between as compared to the interactions of our Navy with its counterparts in the East. And, no chief had visited the UAE before.

In his interactions with the media at Abu Dhabi on February 8, 2007, Admiral Mehta stated as follows as reported by "The Hindu" of February 9, 2007: He chose the UAE as his first overseas destination because "we look at the UAE as a neighbouring country with whom we wish to engage." The UAE personnel would now be able to avail themselves of some of the training course in India." Naval exercises would also begin in due course." The Navy has a key role to play in ensuring the free flow of oil and gas from abroad. Protection of the country's growing off-shore assets is also a top priority. There are three choke points that are of specific concern. These are the Bab Al Mandab, that links the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea, the area south of the Cape of Good Hope (Africa) and the Strait of Hormuz (Gulf). Countries round the world need to work together to make sure that the Strait of Hormuz is not blocked. Nearly 90 per cent of the oil exports from the Gulf pass through it. The primary area of India's maritime interest range from the Gulf to the Antarctica. It also covers the zone extending from the Cape of Good Hope and the east coast of Africa to the Straits of Malacca and the archipelagos of Malaysia and Indonesia. There are 30 process platforms and over 125 well platforms whose security is vital. Besides, the Navy has to look after more than 3000 KMs of pipeline on the seabed that carry oil and gas from the process platforms to terminals onshore.

The National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS), which presently acts as the nodal agency for the co-ordination of the intelligence collection process, would not be in a position to co-ordinate the implementation of the preventive security measures. Its capability in counter-terrorism matters is very limited.

It was a very comprehensive and lucid enunciation of the Indian Navy's core concerns while ensuring maritime security. He underlined the importance of the Malacca Strait also in our maritime security architecture, but put it in the proper perspective as only one important component of our maritime security policy. This is a welcome departure from past enunciations in governmental and non-governmental debates which made the Malacca Strait appear as if it was the end-all and be-all of our maritime security.

By unintended coincidence, the three-day visit of the Naval chief to the UAE from February 7, 2007, came at a time when Al Qaeda elements based in Saudi Arabia had renewed their call for attacks on energy supplies-----including production and transport facilities. In the 30th issue of its electronic magazine called "Sawt al-Jihad: [Voice of Jihad]", which was uploaded on February 8, 2007, Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia once again stressed the importance of the oil weapon in the global jihad against the US. An article titled “Bin Laden and the Oil Weapon”, written by Adeeb al-Bassam, called upon Al Qaeda members to continue to follow bin Laden’s directives and strike oil targets not only in Saudi Arabia, but elsewhere. The article said: "We should strike petroleum interests in all areas which supply the United States, and not only in the Middle East, because the target is to stop its imports or decrease it by all means. Targets should be oil fields, pipelines, loading platforms and carriers, which will ultimately choke the U.S. economy."

While the call of Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia to attack oil production and transport facilities was meant to hurt the US economy, its success will hurt our economy too as badly as it will hurt the economy of the US. For protecting our energy security and for strengthening our maritime counter-terrorism capability, it is important to give further momentum to the "Look West Dimension" initiated by Admiral Mehta and to bring within its regional networking Kuwait,Qatar,Oman and Saudi Arabia too. Apart from Navy-Navy interactions, it is equally important to strengthen the interactions at the non-governmental level between maritime security experts of India and those of these countries.

Addressing a press conference at New Delhi on July 31,2007, Rear Admiral Pradeep Chauhan of the Indian Navy gave details of a planned series of exercises in August-September,2007, in the waters to the West of India, which confirmed further that under the new Chief of the Naval Staff more attention is being paid to the Look West policy of the Navy. According to him, the INS Rajput (D51), INS Beas (F39), INS Betwa (F37), INS Delhi (D61), and INS Jyoti (A58) would undertake a visit to West Africa and the Persian Gulf for 48-days from August 8,2007. The flotilla would move in two groups. The first group consisting of INS Rajput (D51) and Betwa (F37) will proceed to the Northern Persian Gulf to hold exercises with Kuwait and Bahrain, then will rejoin the other ships for a larger exercise with Saudi Arabia later in August, followed by another PASSEX with Oman in late August. The flotilla will move to the Red Sea in the second week of September for the Varuna exercise with FS La Motte Picquet (D 645), a ship of the French Navy. An exercise with the Oman Navy and a patrol close to the Gulf of Aden were also being planned. Some of these exercises were to be held just off the choke points of the Straits of Hormuz and Bab-el-Mandeb through which most of the world’s oil supply passes. “These are places of geographical and strategic significance and we will get the opportunity to hone our skills with top-of-the-line consorts,” he said.

To underline that the increased attention to our Look West Maritime Security policy would not mean any dilution of attention to the Look East Dimension, the Navy would be organising an ambitious exercise involving the participation of 15 ships of the Navies of India, the US, Singapore, Japan and Australia in the Bay of Bengal in the first week of September,2007. In the past, the Indian Navy had been holding exercises in a bilateral framework with the navies of the US and Singapore and the Coast Guard of Japan. This would be the first time this bilateral framework has been sought to be extended to a limited multilateral one.

Addressing the 14th annual meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) at Manila on August 2,2007, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, India's Minister For External Affairs, underlined the continued importance attached by India to the Look East Dimension of its maritime security policy. He said: " India will design and conduct a training module on maritime security specially for the ARF member-states, with themes of anti-piracy, search and rescue missions,off-shore and port security, anti-smuggling and narcotics control and anti-poaching operations. The nucleus of the module would be capacity-building for these and related aspects of maritime security."

Thus, with the encouragement of the US, Japan and Australia, India has sought to further enhance its role in maritime security in the South-East and East Asian regions. It has taken a significant lead over China, whose capabilities continue to be confined to coastal presence as in Gwadar in Pakistan and the projected presence in Hambantota in Sri Lanka, the Arakan area of Myanmar and possibly Chittagong in Bangladesh. The enhanced role of the Indian Navy is welcomed in the region, much to the discomfiture of China.

The first reference to the possible dangers of an act of maritime terrorism involving the use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) material was contained in a letter which Albert Einstein, the renowned scientist, wrote to President Franklin Roosevelt on August 2, 1939. In this letter, while advising President Roosevelt on the need for extreme caution in the development and use of uranium as an important source of power, Einstein said: "Uranium could also lead to the construction of bombs. A single bomb of this type, carried by boat and exploded in a port, might very well destroy the whole port together with some of the surrounding territory."

This warning, which remained forgotten in the Presidential Archives of the US since then, has seen its resurrection since the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US. Since then, it has been haunting the international community as one of the possible catastrophic terrorist scenarios, which might confront it in the months and years to come. It is said that the expression catastrophic terrorism was given currency by a group of American terrorism analysts associated with the Harvard University in the wake of the unsuccessful attempt by a group of international jihadi terrorists to blow up the New York World Trade Centre in February, 1993.

This attempt drew the attention of the international community to the emergence of a revanchist group of terrorists, largely, if not entirely, drawn from Islam and owing their ideological inspiration to the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt, the late Abdullah Azam, Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, his No.2, and the late Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai of the Binori madrasa of Karachi, who were indifferent to the impact of their actions on public opinion. Any worries over the possibility of public revulsion as a result of their serial and mass killings of innocent civilians, including Muslims, were not a restraining factor on their actions. The need to avenge what they looked upon as the historic wrongs committed against the Muslims by the non-Muslim world was of paramount importance to them and the likely consequences of their actions, even if fatal, to large sections of their own community, did not deter them from giving vent to their revanchist impulses.

Till 1995, terrorism threat analysts viewed catastrophic terrorism scenarios as largely likely to arise only on the land. The likely dangers of similar scenarios in the air started receiving attention, but inadequately, only after the accidental discovery by the Filipino authorities in 1995 of a plot by Ramzi Yousef, a Pakistani now in jail in the US for his role in the February, 1993, explosion in the New York World Trade Centre, and some of his associates to launch well-orchestrated serial attacks on civil aviation in a number of countries.

The 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US saw the post-1995 fears of catastrophic acts of terrorism mounted from the air turning into traumatic reality. The much-noticed testimony of Mr.Richard Clarke, who was the counter-terrorism co-ordinator in the US National Security Council Secretariat, before a Congressional Committee enquiring into the 9/11 incident in 2004 and his book brought to light how the repeated wake-up calls of security and counter-terrorism experts regarding the likelihood of a catastrophic act of terrorism mounted from the air failed to make an impact on the minds of Ms.Condoleezza Rice, the then US National Security Adviser (NSA), and other governmental strategic analysts, whose minds were attuned to thinking and analysing conventionally. Those, who warned of the likelihood of unconventional scenarios, were greeted with skepticism. This skepticism extracted a heavy price on 9/11.

One of the important lessons of 9/11 was the need to anticipate and prepare oneself to prevent other similar unconventional scenarios of a catastrophic potential and, if prevention fails, to have in place a capability for coping with the resulting situation. Amongst such likely scenarios of catastrophic potential increasingly receiving attention since 9/11 are those relating to maritime terrorism, terrorist threats to energy security, terrorism involving the use of WMD material and terrorist threats to critical information infrastructure. Strategic counter-terrorism refers to the drill and the capabilities to be put in place in order to be able to prevent such scenarios and to cope with them if they do materialise despite the preventive measures.

Strategic threat analysis has undergone a significant change since 9/11. Before 9/11, analysis and assessment of threat perceptions were based on actual intelligence or information available with the intelligence and security agencies. 9/11 has brought home to policy-makers the difficulties faced by intelligence agencies, however well-endowed they may be, in penetrating terrorist organisations to find out details of their thinking and planning. This realisation has underlined the importance of analysts serving policy-makers constantly identifying national security vulnerabilities, which might attract the attention of terrorists, and suggesting options and actions to deny opportunities for terrorist strikes to the terrorists. Vulnerability analysis has become as important as threat analysis. When Einstein cautioned President Roosevelt of the dangers of an uranium-made bomb being smuggled into a port and exploded, he did not sound the wake-up call on the basis of any specific intelligence. He was doing so on the basis of his understanding of the vulnerabilities.

National security managers should not confine themselves to an analysis and assessment of strategic developments of a conventional nature arising from State actors, but should pay equal attention to the strategic impact of non-State actors, such as international or trans-national terrorists, crime mafia groups and nuclear proliferators on global security in general and our own national security in particular. The development of the contours of a Strategic Maritime Counter-Terrorism Mechanism should be an important part of the exercise undertaken by them to protect national security.

Strategic Maritime Counter-Terrorism would require an intelligence collection, analysis and assessment capability of a nature different from what we have presently---whether in respect of human (HUMINT) or technical intelligence (TECHINT). Our civilian intelligence capabilities continue to be largely land-based and land-related, with some capability, though inadequate, relating to the air. Sea-based and sea-related capabilities are not yet adequate even to meet the needs of conventional threats from State actors. The needs to meet unconventional threats from non-State actors have to be identified and analysed and appropriate follow-up action to create the required capabilities should be taken.

Police and civilian intelligence officers do not adequately understand the sea. The responsibility for the collection, analysis and assessment of Strategic Maritime Counter-Terrorism Intelligence cannot be left to their efforts alone. At the same time, there cannot be an effective Strategic Maritime Counter-Terrorism Intelligence Mechanism without the active involvement of Police and civilian intelligence officers. Terrorist threats of a strategic nature----whether land or air or sea related----would always arise from the land. The planning and the initial preparations would be on land. Land-based terrorist strikes of a tactical nature generally involve the use of hand-held weapons or explosives or a mix of the two. Terrorist threats of a strategic nature would generally involve the use of explosive material--- conventional or non-conventional, WMD related or both. Initial collection of intelligence about the planning, preparations and procurement of explosive material has to be from the land. For this, a strong police and civilian intelligence collection capability is essential.

Once the planning and the operations of the terrorists shift from the land to the sea, the Coast Guard and the Navy have to play a more important role in the intelligence collection than the Police and the civilian agencies. The collection of timely TECHINT would call for sea-based monitoring capabilities. The present monitoring capabilities of the civilian agencies are largely, if not totally, land-based. They do have some air-based capabilities, but within a restricted radius. They do not have adequate capabilities for intelligence collection over the high seas.

Strategic maritime counter-terrorism would, therefore, call for a dedicated intelligence collection, analysis and assessment capability bringing together under one roof police, civilian,Army, naval, Coast Guard and Air Force experts, with the Navy or the Coast Guard exercising the leadership role in its functioning. The Special Task Force for the Revamping of the Intelligence Apparatus set up by the Government of India in 2000 did go into the question of improving the capability of our intelligence collection agencies in matters relating to terrorism, but it recommendations had only limited relevance to Strategic Maritime Counter-Terrorism. It is time to pay attention to this aspect.

The post-9/11 period has seen the formulation and implementation by the international community of many physical security measures relating to maritime and WMD terrorism. Amongst such measures, one could mention the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code), the Container Security Initiative (CSI), the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) etc. A number of bilateral, regional and trans-regional networking arrangements for co-operation against different kinds of terrorism has also come into existence. There is a need for a single nodal agency to constantly monitor the implementation of these preventive security measures, to identify deficiencies in their implementation and take action to remove them.

The National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS), which presently acts as the nodal agency for the co-ordination of the intelligence collection process, would not be in a position to co-ordinate the implementation of the preventive security measures. Its capability in counter-terrorism matters is very limited. There is, therefore, a need for a separate nodal agency for the co-ordination of all preventive security measures having a bearing on Strategic Counter-Terrorism, whether land, air or sea based..

The National Security Guard (NSG) was created by the Government of India in the 1980s to perform the role of a special intervention force to terminate terrorist situations such as hostage-taking on the ground, occupation of premises, hijacking of aircraft etc. One does not know whether in the wake of 9/11 the Government of India has already taken measures for a similar force to terminate terrorist situations on the coast, in ports, in sensitive coastal installations and on the high seas. There is a distinction between preventing and terminating a terrorist situation. The task of termination arises when the preventive measures fail and the terrorists have taken control of an installation or a ship or an oil or LPG tanker and threaten to blow it up.

The ability to terminate such situations without catastrophic consequences requires specially trained personnel with special equipment, which would facilitate rapid and stealthy movement, the ability to co-ordinate the termination operation from the land or the sea, depending on the circumstances of the case etc. If such a force has not already been raised, its raising should have a high priority. Our Coast Guard has a good record of preventing and terminating piracy strikes, but terminating terrorist operations with catastrophic potential requires a different capability, which cannot be acquired through improvisation, when a situation actually arises.

The post-9/11 international co-operation against terrorism has led to the mushrooming of Joint Counter-Terrorism Working Groups involving India and other countries. One does not even know whether the maritime counter-terrorism experts of the Navy and the Coast Guard are represented in such working groups. In the media reports on the meetings of such working groups, one hardly finds any reference to maritime counter-terrorism.

In land-based terrorism, the Police is the weapon of first resort and the army the weapon of the last resort except in border areas, where one faces the problem of cross-border infiltration of terrorists. In maritime counter-terrorism in the high seas, the Navy, including the Coast Guard, has to be the weapon of first resort, aided by others such as the Army,the Air Force, the coastal Police and the civilian intelligence agencies.

There is an urgent need for a comprehensive approach to maritime counter-terrorism covering the various dimesions of it such as intelligence collection, analysis, assessment and dissemination; the need to strengthen the capability for the collection of technical intelligence (TECHINT) relating to maritime terrorism through monitoring stations on the coast and the islands as well as sea-based monitoring platforms; port security; strengthening coastal patrolling in the vicinity of sensitive establishments such as nuclear installations, oil refineries and off-shore oil platforms; intensive naval patrolling in the high seas; monitoring developments in coastal maritime communities; a rapid action capability to deal with a maritime situation if preventive measures fail; a crisis management capability; and regional and international co-operation.

It is high time the Government of India set up a dedicated Task Force to go into the entire gamut of maritime counter-terrorism and make suitable recommendations for a comprehensive martitime counter-terrorism strategy.