Thursday, September 27, 2007

STF In Silawathura

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

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

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

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

Blackwater's Prince Has GOP, Christian Group Ties

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

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

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

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

Republican, Christian Ties

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Who Are the Fanatics? By Paul Craig Roberts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thoppigala –the new symbol of national pride

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Spy Master and his Kaoboys

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

R&AW and Iinternational relations

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

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

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


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

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

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


Implications Of Mannar Coastal Operations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Revisiting LTTE’s Military Options

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Tamil Nadu factor

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

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


Defence Ministry says TMVP is a “political party”

The Defence Ministry website yesterday said the TMVP led by Karuna Amman is a political party being targeted by the LTTE, the latest being on Saturday when two TMVP cadres were killed in two separate incidents in Batticalola and Ampara.

The news item and views by the website came at a time the EPDP led by Minister Douglas Devananda had sought a crackdown on the outfit owing to intimidations in the east and also comes with the international community urging the government to disarm the outfit.

The website said that the latest victims of the LTTE have been identified as strong supporters of the “Tamil political party the TMVP” which over the weekend issued a statement it could not disarm owing to threats by the LTTE.

According to the defence website two LTTE motorbike riding assassins had shot at three Tamil youth in front of the AG office at Alliadiwembu in Akkaraipattuwa on Saturday night. The victims, identified as Ravichandran died on the spot while the other two identified as Alagaiya Kalanarthi and Balakrishnan Sabapathi suffered serious injuries and were admitted to the government hospital in Batticaloa.

In another incident at Wellaweli in Batticaloa another 16 year old youth identified as Ariyarathnam Selvakumar was shot dead at 14th Colony on Saturday night. The victim was a relative of the TMVP activist in the area, the defence website said.

The website further noted that earlier last week the LTTE killed two other members of the same political party at Vinayagapuram and Mutur in the Eastern province.

The defence website noted that the TMVP is a political party headed by the former LTTE leader for the Eastern ProvinceKaruna Amman who broke away from the LTTE and formed the new political party as his

“first step towards entering mainstream politics.”

In a press release on Saturday the TMVP political office expressed its concerns over the safety of its supporters due to the threats of the LTTE terrorists, the defence website said quoting the TMVP statement.

Just last week EPDP leader Dauglas Devananda told the Daily Mirror he had raised concerns over the activities of the TMVP in the east as they continued to threaten other Tamil political parties including the EPDP and got an assurance from the President to deal with the group.


Karuna group well protected by authorities – SLMM

As ‘insecurity’ in East intensifies

The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) has warned of growing insecurity in the Eastern Province owing to the atrocities of the Karuna faction—also known as the Tamileela Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP)—which included killing, abductions, and the extortion of money from local businesses in the province.

The SLMM, however, noted that despite the growing insecurity in these areas, “The TMVP/Karuna group was well protected by the authorities and thus even the police are reluctant to pursue them in certain areas.”
The mission, in its weekly report, disclosed that for the last week alone (September 10 – 16) six persons, including several minors, had been abducted by the TMVP, while another 14 year old boy had gone missing in Trincomalee. The boy’s whereabouts are still not known.

The SLMM had received three complaints regarding alleged abductions by the TMVP group by the week ending September 16.

According to the complaints, on September 13, an Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) member (27) was assassinated in Valachchenai while he was distributing news handouts. He was reportedly killed by the TMVP group.

On September 11, four youths (age 14-20) were reportedly abducted by the TMVP group. The complainant claimed they would be held until six missing TMVP cadres were returned.

On September 13, a man was reported abducted by an armed group in a white van and taken to the TMVP office in Trincomalee where the victim was assaulted and threatened with death. Although he was later released, he had reportedly received threats from the TMVP group afterwards.

On September 14, the TMVP group reportedly abducted a boy (16) in Sinnathotam, Ampara; they refused to release him, claiming he had been recruited.
“The TMVP/Karuna group is reportedly well protected by the authorities and the police are reluctant to pursue them in certain areas,” the SLMM said in its report.
Meanwhile, during the previous SLMM weekly report, which ended on September 9, the mission emphasized the growing insecurity in the province.

For that week alone a total of seven abductions were reported to the mission.
“In the area west of Batticaloa people are still afraid, and refrain from going outside at night,” it was stated in the report.

During the week that ended on the 9th, seven people were abducted, two reportedly by the TMVP. Six people previously reported abducted were released in the same period.
The SLMM had received a further three complaints on abductions, all pointing out the TMVP as the perpetrator.


Tigers facing serious ammunition crisis

Leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Velupillai Prabhakaran last week issued an unusual order to his area leaders instructing them to restrict using artillery rounds against military targets. This is the first time the LTTE Leadership issued such an order during the undeclared Eelam War IV.

According to the latest intelligence report, this instruction had been issued with immediate effect, days after the destruction of the three LTTE arms shipments off Dondra point by the Sri Lanka Navy last week. It is believed that this order was due to the organization facing a severe shortage of heavy arms including Artillery shells.

Following the order, the LTTE had reduced firing artillery at military targets by almost fifty percent. Even after losing the Eastern province and Silavaturai areas the LTTE had continued for a long period to fire heavy artillery and mortars almost on a daily basis at military targets. The LTTE continued firing artillery at Pompemadu area in Mannar North, the mortar and artillery locations at Omanthai and also towards Welioya. In Welioya the LTTE attacked villages including Janakapura as well. But with this latest development, firing artillery at these areas had been drastically reduced.Intercepted radio communications of the Tamil Tigers claimed that the LTTE leadership had ordered that launching offensives into military held areas should be stopped due to shortage of military hardware.

The LTTE’s international gun running network has also been partially paralyzed due to crackdowns by foreign governments. This in turn has hampered its procurement and fund raising activities which sustained the organization to a great extent. These efforts were complemented by the Navy which managed to intercept several LTTE weapons consignments, limiting its ability to retaliate against the military.

On September 10, Sri Lanka’s Navy Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) – Samudura, Sayura, Shakthi and Suranimala successfully engaged with three LTTE arm shipments some 1200 kilometres away and destroyed them with large stocks of arms onboard.Despite several allegations that there were less than 5000 artillery rounds on board these ships, the Navy Spokesman and Naval Deputy Director Operation Commander D.K.P. Dassanayake confirmed that there were at least nearly 30,000 artillery rounds alone with several other military hardware stocked in at least two ships belonging to the LTTE.

However, there is no doubt that by destroying these ships, whether they carried only 5000 or 30,000 rounds, the threat to the ground troops and properties had been eased by about fifty percent.

So far the Navy’s Offshore Patrol Vessels have been able to destroy at least nine LTTE arms shipments off the Sri Lankan waters during the last few years. Since last January the LTTE was not able to receive even a single weapon from abroad as the Navy tightened its surveillances around the country’s sea.

KP factor

With the alleged arrest of the head of LTTE’s overseas procurement section Kumaran Pathmanathan alias KP, the organization faced its worst debacle as the entire arms smuggling operation was stopped.

He had an extensive network, especially in South East Asia, and had been living in Thailand after being forced to move operations from Malaysia in 1990.

Reliable sources confirmed that for a long period KP was ailing and was unable to walk. Since then the procurement of weapons was handled by its second in charge Eithavan.

However, Thai authorities denied that they had arrested KP. It is now learnt that KP, who had over a hundred different passports, was a high profile character in the international arms network, which has inter-connections with several notorious terrorist groups including the Al- Quida terrorist network.

Both the United States and India are demanding that the Thai authorities hand over KP to them. KP was one of the main accused in the Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi assassination.

Prabha’s son creates internal rift

Twenty-two year old Charles Anthony Seelan, an aeronautical engineer, who heads the LTTE’s air wing and computer section, is considered to be the successor to Velupllai Prabhakaran, the LTTE’s supreme leader.

This has led to a power struggle within the organization. The latest rift within the organization is reported to have occurred when Prabhakaran expressed his desire to appoint his own son as successor.

Already LTTE’s Political Wing Leader S.P. Thamilchelvan, Tigers’ Intelligence head Pottu Amman, Sea Tiger Leader Soosai, who had been removed from the position due to his health condition and several other senior Tiger Leaders have expressed their objection to this suggestion by Prabhakaran.

The latest power struggle was reported at a time there was a cold war between Thamilchelvan and Pottu Amman over the second position in the organization.

It is now learnt that Thamilchelvan will be removed from his position as the political leader of the organization and Charles Anthony and Pottu Amman will be appointed to handle the political activities of the organization.

However Thamilchelvam in order to stress to the membership his abilities in every sphere is currently reported to be present in Pooeryn to lead the next operation.

Prabha has three children, Charles Anthony, who got his degree from a University in Ireland joined his father last year and launched successful air raids against several strategically important locations in Colombo and Jaffna challenging the supersonic jets of the Airforce.

Prabhakaran’s other two children are: 21-year-old daughter, Dhuwraha, and 11-year-old son, Balachandran. Intelligence reports state that the daughter is studying abroad while the little son is in Kilinochchi.

The leadership of 52-year-old Prabhakaran, who is diabetic and suffers from hypertension, has been undisputed from the inception of the organization.


The day that saw the destruction of LTTE ships

Lieutenant Percy Rajapaksa, who is the Navigator of the Sri Lanka Navy’s Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) Samudura – formerly US warship ‘Courage’ – left with crew members from the Colombo Harbour on September 3 for an unknown but decisive mission in the high seas. Accompanied by a A-520- a logistic vessel, they were to join with more ships within a few days prior to departure to the high seas. “It was just like another day, but some had a gut feeling that this was not a routine exercise.” he spoke to the Daily Mirror from Trincomalee Harbour in the background of his vessel Samudura.

According to Lt. Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka Navy Ship (SLNS) Sayura – formerly an Indian ship, SLNS Suranimal (Israel) SLNS Shakthi (China) and SLNS A-521- a logistic ship had already started sailing towards the high seas. A Navy Captain was in charge of this entire operation and he was based in the ‘Sayura’ On September 6, the two logistics ships returned back while four other vessels capable of fighting continued to proceed towards international waters. Explaining, Lt. Rajapaksa said that the entire crew did not know about the mission. “But we knew that there would be a decisive battle in the high seas,” he said. ``When our fleet passed several hundreds of nautical miles towards the international waters, the Captain of our vessel briefed us on our mission. We were told that there would be more than one ship in the international waters carrying arms to the LTTE and our mission was to find and destroy them,” he explained. “We came to know the details about the LTTE ships, we saw photographs of them and got to know the area where these ships were located.”

The Navy fleet often had passed more than 100 ships, fishing trawlers and other types of commercial vessels in the high seas. By September 10, four Navy ships arrived to search the area where the LTTE ships were suspected to be located. The fleet separated into two groups and proceeded to search for the LTTE ships. Samudura and Shakthi went in one direction “By 8.15 am, suddenly a dot appeared on our radar system and we paid attention to it as this area was not an international sea route, and approached the location at high speed,” Lt. Rajapaksa said.

He said that when the Sumudura ship closed on the suspected object, the Captain of Samudura ordered the crew to prepare for an emergency situation as the object they had detected might be the LTTE ship. “Following instruction from the Captain, I directed crew members to the relevant weapons,” Lt Rajapaksa said.

“Suddenly I realized that another ship was in the vicinity and Shakthi was asked to go for that vessel as we were asked to approach the other”.

He said that when Samudura and the suspected ship had some 10 nautical miles distances, they saw that the suspect ship had a name Koshiya, which was later confirmed as fake. There was no flag or registered name of the Koshiya, which had blue and red colours on its bow. “We matched our details with the Koshiya and started to communicate with the ship,” the Navigator explained.

He said that though they contacted using Internal Maritime Channel – Channel 16, there was no response from the Koshiya .

“Then we fired warning shots over the suspected ship which suddenly started to fire back at us using artillery guns weapons, leading us to retaliate”.

He said that the suspect ship had commenced to move further towards the international waters while continuing to fire at the Navy vessel. “We chased the vessel for at least eight hours. At that time another three Navy vessels joined us after destroying two other LTTE ships. After several hours of gun battle, the Koshiya went down with several explosions on board,” he said.

Explaining further Lt Rajapaksa said that the entire crew of his ship could not have dinner that day or breakfast the next morning as all of them were involved in the attack against the suspected ship. “Even our cook attacked the ship using a 12.7 millimeter gun screaming that LTTE must not damage his kitchen,” said Lt. Rajapaksa with a smile adding “the feeling we had at that time was of happiness for we had succeeded in our mission and even if we didn’t have anything to eat we were strong enough to be victorious.”


Destruction and devastation during military operations in East

Excerpts from a speech by TNA parliamentary group leader R. Sampanthan at the debate on the current situation in the North and East.

I want to make it perfectly clear before I begin my submissions on the debate of this Adjournment Motion that any submissions that I will make on the floor of this House in the course of this debate is not directed against any community. I want to make it clear that all communities in this country are entitled to live in equality and that the maintenance of goodwill among all communities is essential for permanent peace in this country. Therefore, any submissions I make on the floor of this House is not intended to offend the feelings of any one community. I want to make that perfectly clear.

But, at the same time injustice cannot be permitted to occur and to ensure that injustice does not continue unchecked, it is necessary to raise relevant issues with the Government and there can be no more effective way of raising these issues with the Government than on the floor of this House.

It has been said, that there is a well-known Buddhist view on politics which enunciates that the politicians' approach to governance should be based solely on dharma or justice and righteousness. And I shall endeavour in the course of my submissions today, on the basis of hard facts to establish in this House and to this country that many of the steps that have been taken by the present Government in this country today, particularly in the Eastern Province are not based on dharma, are not based on justice and are not based on righteousness and therefore, it is our duty as representatives democratically elected by the people of the North-East to voice the sentiments of those people on the Floor of this House.

More than 300,000 Tamil civilians were displaced in the Eastern Province during the course of the military actions - the manner of such displacement, the objective of such displacement, the consequences of such displacement, the plight of the people today and what is happening after such displacement and other matters related thereto.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa happened to visit Vakarai on February 3 the day before the Independence Day celebrations on the 4th and he said at Vakarai on that occasion, "What we have done is to liberate the people from the terrorists. I am here to thank the troops for their action without causing a single casualty.” If the President believed that these operations had been carried out without causing a single casualty, I am afraid he was totally misinformed in regard to that matter because in the course of my submissions in this House today, I shall demonstrate to this House that in the course of these operations carried out in the Eastern Province during this period, over 300 innocent Tamil civilians, men, women and children were killed. Apart from immense devastation and destruction to their houses, to their plantations, to their crops, to their livestock, to their agricultural and personal vehicles, to their farming equipment, to their fishing equipment, their means of livelihood was totally destroyed and these people today live in a state of penury and destitution.

As I said before, these operations that had been carried out in the East and which have resulted in immense havoc in the lives of the innocent Tamil civilians living in those territories have been referred to by various Government Spokesmen as the "Dawn of the East", or as the "Awakening of the East" and so on and so forth. But, I am inclined to the view, that what has taken place and what is taking place and what will perhaps take place in the future as per the indications that we have is that the situation we are facing is the "Doom of the East".

He moved that;

(a) The flagrant violation of Human Rights, in the form of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and other inhuman and unlawful actions continuously perpetrated against the unarmed Tamil civilian population, particularly in the North-East, and also in some other parts of the country, with a sense of total impunity on the part of such perpetrators, and the persistent failure on the part of the Government to take meaningful, adequate, positive and tangible action, so as to prevent or deter such regular and continuing violations, other than some face-saving measures in regard to certain identified past violations, which results in Tamil civilians particularly in the North-East having to continuously suffer unbearable agony in an environment of total insecurity, indignity and oppression.

(b) The several actions of the Government both covert and overt to dismantle the arrangements on which the peace process pertaining to the North-East was structured particularly in relation to the merged North-East and inclusive of the special steps resorted to by Government to alienate State land and provide housing to persons of the majority community, in parts of the Eastern Province, which are racially discriminatory against and particularly harmful to the Tamil-speaking people, both Tamils and Muslims in the North-East, particularly in the East at present, which steps would also cause adverse changes in existing demographic compositions in such territories, and also the steps contemplated by Government to effect territorial changes in administrative structures by creating new units of administration, in such territories, so as to strengthen majority interests and emasculate minority interests, which would permanently endanger the well-being of the Tamils and Muslims in the North-East, the cumulative effect of which steps taken by the Government, would be that instead of moving towards resolution of the conflict, the conflict would be further exacerbated and prolonged.

(c) The immense suffering endured by the several hundreds of thousands of Tamil civilians who were displaced consequent to the aerial bombardment and the firing of multi barrel rockets by the Government armed forces into properties owned and occupied by them for generations and centuries, the lack of a cohesive programme acceptable to the displaced Tamil people pertaining to their resettlement on the lands from which they were evicted and the several aspects relating thereto, the lack of transparency, and the lack of consultation, in regard to such activities carried out by the Government, and the need to evolve and implement a comprehensive programme that would restore lasting stability in the lives of these unfortunate Tamil people, rather than pursue programmes dictated by narrow political agendas which would only be to the permanent detriment of these people and deny them the long standing benefits to which they are legitimately entitled are matters of grave public concern; and urged:-

(I) that the Government takes effective steps to terminate the continuing flagrant violations of human rights of the Tamil people particularly, in the North-East.

(II) (a) that the Government takes appropriate action to restore the merged North-East, (b) that the Government desists from the special steps taken to alienate State land to the majority community in the North-East, so as to change the demographic composition in such territories and from creating new administrative units in any part of the North-East so as to strengthen majority interests and emasculate the interests of the Tamil speaking people the Tamils and Muslims in the North-East.

(III) that the displaced Tamil people be resettled on the lands from which they were evicted as per a programme prepared in consultation with the displaced Tamil people and that they be adequately compensated for the losses suffered by them and that they be provided with all other essential facilities so as to enable them to recommence life in a stable manner.