A Los Angeles based newspaper said that the terrorist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam , was successful in obtaining details of the covert operators of the army with the help of the police, by planting a story on an assassination plot to kill the Sri Lankan Prime Minister by the army.
The Los Angeles based Sri Lanka Express charged that if dots were properly connected in the Athurugiriya affair that had severely compromised Sri Lanka’s military intelligence operations it would most likely show that the LTTE planted the Ranil Wickremesinghe assassination story in the first place, waited for it to take root then reported and editorialized it.
The editorial charged without lifting a finger the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam was able to get all the details regarding the covert operation of the army delivered right to its door.
In a signed editorial by its editor Hassina Leelarathna the bi-weekly newspaper said, it was the mischief the LTTE routinely resorted to knowing full well that Sinhalese politicians who placed their personal interests above all else, were easy and willing prey.
In a police raid allegedly instigated by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam with the help of the United National Party hierarchy, described by many as the most foolish raid ever conducted in the history of Sri Lanka’s Police, Superintendent of Police, Kulasiri Udugampola, broke into a highly secretive army safe house, arrested six detainees of a very successful deep penetration unit of the army and treated them in the most humiliating way on the charge they were plotting to kill Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. On a frantic search for publicity by the Police raiders the identities of the army unit was also revealed to the media. They were later released by a special order of the Defense Minister, Tilak Marapana, following the vehement protests of the army hierarchy.
The following is the full text of the editorial:
“In the latest development in the Athurigiriya affair that has severely compromised military intelligence operations, police handed over the six detainees they were holding to the military police in Kandy.
“ The six detainees, including a Tamil civilian and a commissioned officer in the army, were all part of a ‘deep penetration unit of the army’ and were involved in intelligence operations.
“The men were arrested January 3 following the highly publicized raid on a house in Athurigiriya where a special police unit led recovered arms and ammunition. The raid was conducted by Kandy Crimes and Operations division, which is handling the ongoing inquiry into the Udathalawinna murders. The unit had been tipped off that one of the suspects in the Udathalawinna, son of former deputy minister Anuruddha Ratwatte was hiding at the location. The detainees included Muslims, Sinhalese, and Tamils. Weapons and military paraphernalia were also hauled away.
“ Despite protests by military officials, the police raiding party not only went ahead with the operation but also came out with the accusation that the house was being used by the military to carry out a plot to assassinate Prime Minister Wickremesinghe. Local newspapers, some of which are owned or managed by relatives and friends of the prime minister, sensationalized the story.
“The Island even went to the extent of sniveling up to the LTTE, headlining the story: “Plot to Assassinate PM and Incriminate LTTE Uncovered.” Sri Lankan news websites immediately flashed the story to their worldwide readers, apparently without any independent verification.
“As The Island reported it: “… Investigators said that they firmly believe the so called covert operations unit was involved in an abortive plot to assassinate UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe during run - up to the December 5 parliamentary elections. A few weeks before the elections, the UNP leader claimed that he was aware of a plot to mount a claymore mine attack on the bus he used on the campaign trail.
“The then UNP Chairman Charitha Ratwatte and the Vice Chairman Daya Palpola wrote to Army Commander Lt. Gen. Lionel Balagalle claiming men under his command were planning to assassinate the UNP leader. Balagalle promptly denied the allegation. Police said that they have information to suggest that the group arrested on Wednesday was involved in the earlier plot. However, following the UNP led United National Front’s victory next to the parliamentary elections, the group operating under the directions of the Military Intelligence and the Directorate of Military Intelligence [DMI] was apparently making plans to sabotage the ongoing peace process.”
“The so-called army plots to assassinate the UNP leader received publicity in the LTTE organ Tamil Guardian (November 21, 2001). If the dots are properly connected, it will most likely show that the LTTE planted the story in the first place, waited for it to take root, then reported and editorialized it. It is the kind of mischief they routinely resort to, knowing full well that Sinhalese politicians, who place their personal interests above all else, are easy and willing prey.
“The pieces have now been put together. Army Provost Marshal Ivan Dassanayake who headed the inquiry has handed over a report which absolves the detainees of wrongdoing. There is no evidence to link the Athurigiriya home and the operations conducted there to the Udathalawinna (Teldeniya) murders (in which the two sons of former Deputy Minister Anuruddha Ratwatte have been implicated).
“From what we have been able to independently gather from our military sources, the raid was in part an extension of the feuding between two controversial politicos, each trying to outdo the other in their petty turf wars and, in part, the result of some top police officers trying to score brownie points with the new government. Also to blame are the politicians who gave the police a freehand to conduct the raid and publicize the so-called ‘assassination plot,’ improbable though it should have seemed. Lastly, the sycophantic local press must take its share of the blame. Everyone involved, except the military, had their own agendas with no regard for national security. Without lifting a finger, the LTTE was able to get all the details regarding the covert operation delivered right to its door!
“A senior military official told SLE that the damage is irreparable. “It took us many years to put together an operative that could so successfully penetrate enemy intelligence. Needless to say, many innocent lives were saved due to this success.”
“The LTTE, trying to maximize on their role of victim in the new Ranil area, are accusing the DMI unit of killing several senior LTTE cadres including a self-styled colonel who had been a member of LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran’ S inner circle. The unit is also accused of making a bid on the life of Thamilchelvam, a prominent LTTE leader.
“Members of the unit have been recalled to Colombo due to the enforcement of the ceasefire beginning December 24. Their future is uncertain. As is the fate of the six intelligence men arrested and held like common criminals in appalling conditions. Will they be given protection by the government now that their cover has been blown sky high?“Summing up, the military source told SLE: “With the current need to appease the Tigers, I suppose we have to be thankful that the government is not charging the unit with murder or something like that over the accusations [the LTTE is making].”