Friday, December 19, 2008

Seeing the Enemy In Afganistan

Monday, April 14, 2008

LTTE money collecting agents on the prowl in London

Money collecting agents representing the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in London, a proscribed Terrorist organization in the United Kingdom are once again on the prowl targeting defenseless Sri Lankan Tamil business proprietors across London demanding money to replenish their depleting war chest in order to fund their Eelam War crusade against the Sri Lankan state and armed forces.

Several Sri Lankan Tamil businesses in areas of North and East London have been targeted by LTTE's agents in recent times demanding sums of up to £2,000 onwards, an amount vulnerable Sri Lankan Tamil business owners, can ill afford to cough up. Sri Lankan Tamil businessman who own convenience stores in the areas of Wembley, Harrow, Ilford, East Ham, Manor Park and other suburban areas across London have been the victims of continued intimidation, death threats and harassment from agents acting on behalf of the LTTE. Despite the fact that the LTTE remains a proscribed banned Terrorist organization in the UK, agents acting for the LTTE have remained undeterred.

Many victims fear exposing these incidents to the Police as such is their fear psychosis. These victims are also fully aware of the LTTE’s capabilities of targeting their dissidents who refuse to give in to or do not agree with to their ideology and dictatorial demands. Details of relatives of these Sri Lankan business proprietors living in Sri Lanka have been mentioned by the LTTE's money collecting agents and their victims have been warned that their relatives would be harmed if they fail to come up with their demands. Many of these LTTE money collecting agents have been accompanied by a bunch of LTTE hooligans who have recently come into London from Denmark, France and Switzerland to assist their colleagues in intimidating and distressing innocent Sri Lankan Tamil business owners in London into funding and supporting their cause.

The Metropolitan Police's Borough Commanders across London have been notified by Scotland Yard and their safer neighborhood teams are on the watch so that criminals acting for the LTTE in London can be arrested and prosecuted for their crimes and terrorist violations. One such senior Metropolitan Police officer Chief Inspector Zander Gibson, who heads the Community Policing Unit for the London Borough of Newham is said to be actively working with his safer neighborhood teams in partnership with local Sri Lankan Tamil residents who have been brave enough to face up to the LTTE.

Many more moderate Sri Lankan Tamils who do not conform to the LTTE’s ideology are liaising with the Metropolitan Police’s safer neighborhood teams, which, has resulted in a few arrests. However the LTTE's main criminal culprits are still at large. The Metropolitan Police and its anti-terrorism branch have appealed to the Sri Lankan Diaspora living in London for more information and assistance that will help bring under control and stop the LTTE’s illegal fundraising in the UK.

Norwegian Government Funding for LTTE Film - My Daughter the Terrorist

The 50 minute documentary Min Datter Terroristen (my Daughter the Terrorist) attempts to glorify the motivations of two Black Tiger women. The documentary follows the training and indoctrination of Dharsika and Puhalchudar (possibly not the real names) for a suicide mission against the Sri Lankan state. The main emphasis of the documentary is to give some pseudo-justification to the act of suicide terrorism by the LTTE. Sections of the documentary are narrated by Maria (actor playing the role of Mother).

The documentary has been produced/co-directed by two Norwegian nationals Mr.Morten Daae and Ms. Beate Arnestad. Interestingly, Ms Arnestad states that she used a false name Ms Smith when she traveled to Sri Lanka to make the film. Ms. Arnestad has blatantly breached Sri Lankan immigration regulations and also media guidelines for visiting journalists as prescribed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The camera crew was led by Norwegian Frank Alvegg. The Production Company is Snitt Film Production based in Oslo , Norway .

The international rights for the documentary is managed by TV2 World ( Denmark ), Rugaardsvej 25, 5100 Odense , Denmark . As at December 2006, the broadcasting rights to the documentary have been purchased by Radio-Canada Television ( Canada ), TV2 ( Denmark ), Al-Arabia (Satellite Television covering the Middle East), NHK-BS1 ( Japan ) and TV2 ( Norway ).

Financial support for the making of the documentary was provided by two institutions, one a NGO operating in Norway named Freedom of Expression Foundation (Institusjonen Fritt Ord), Uranienborgveien 2, 0258 Oslo . According to the annual report of Freedom of Expression Foundation, financial support of one Million Norwegian Kroner (NOK 1,000,000) was provided. In addition the Norwegian Film Fund, which is a government institution enacted by the Norwegian Parliament in 2001 and functioning under the purview of the Norwegian Ministry of Culture provided 250,000 Norwegian Kroner (NOK 250,00) for the making of the documentary.

The fact that a Norwegian government institution provided funding for the production of a documentary that glorifies suicide terrorism against the State of Sri Lanka is in contempt of the friendly relations between the two countries. Furthermore Norwegian government funding was provided to a film Director that used a false identity to operate in Sri Lanka is a serious matter.

(Asian tribune)

LTTE deliberately targets civilians in attacks says AI

Amnesty International (AI) has criticised the LTTE for deliberately targeting civilians in an extended series of attacks.
The London based human rights group notes that it is a basic principle of international humanitarian law that persons fighting in armed conflict must, at all times, distinguish between civilians and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives.

“It is not unlawful to target combatants for attack, where legal means and methods are used; however specific rules aim at protecting civilians and other non-combatants.

They must not be the object of attack. Indiscriminate attacks, including attacks on military objectives that are expected to cause excessive loss of civilian lives or damage to civilian objects (the principle of proportionality) are similarly prohibited, as is the use of civilians as human shields,”

AI said in a statement relating to the assassination of Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle in which several civilians were also killed.

The organisation is alarmed that since the abrogation of the ceasefire agreement in Sri Lanka on January 16, the conflict continues to involve the intentional targeting of civilians and indiscriminate attacks.

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), 180 civilians died in the first six weeks of 2008 and nearly 270 more were injured in a series of attacks on civilian buses, railway stations and individuals in Colombo, Dambulla, Kebhitigollewa, Madhu, Okkampitiya and Welli Oya.

AI further says that as suicide bombs kill and injure civilians in the south of Sri Lanka, ongoing offensives in the north and east continue to affect families in conflict-affected areas.

One continuing example is the situation near Madhu Church in Mannar District in the north of Sri Lanka.

“As a result of intensifying fighting, a historic statue of the Virgin Mary has been removed for safety from the Madhu shrine. The LTTE is reported to have used communities around the Church as ‘human shields’ and Amnesty International has in the past raised concerns about the recruitment of children by the LTTE from families living in the locality.

The government for its part in April 2008 reportedly shelled civilian areas around the Church. The Mannar Bishop, Rt. Rev. Dr. Rayappu Joseph has repeatedly appealed to both sides to respect the Madhu area as a no-conflict zone,” AI added.

AI notes that under international humanitarian law, parties to armed conflicts, including non-international ones such as in Sri Lanka, must take special care to protect cultural property, including buildings dedicated to religion, from damage unless there is imperative military necessity to do otherwise.

AI is urging the LTTE to stop immediately any direct or indiscriminate attacks on civilians, condemn all such acts publicly and state that they would not be tolerated; to immediately suspend any persons suspected of participating in (including ordering) violations of international law from any position or placement in which they may commit additional violations and to ensure that their forces take special care to avoid damage to cultural property, including buildings dedicated to religion.

AI also urges the government to ensure that all security force personnel respect obligations under international human rights humanitarian law, ensure that its armed forces take special care to avoid damage to cultural property, including buildings dedicated to religion and allow the establishment of an independent, international human rights monitoring presence on the ground without delay.

A bitter harvest in rice-eating Sri Lanka

TO SAY rice is Sri Lanka's staple food is an understatement. Rice is politics in Sri Lanka. Not only that, we are also in love with rice. Take my case. My day is not complete if I do not eat rice for my lunch. There are times I eat rice for all three main meals. Take a ride on a taxi along Colombo's busy roads during lunchtime.

One would be sure to see hundreds of vendors sitting under huge umbrellas and selling parcels of cooked rice. The price was reasonable — at least till the beginning of the year. But then there was a sudden increase in the price of rice — and everyone is talking about it.

One woman said the kilo of local rice which she bought at Rs 80 last month was being sold at Rs 112. The imported Indian rice, which two months ago fetched, a price of Rs 60 a kilo in Colombo's retail markets is now sold at Rs 100 — and the stocks are fast vanishing.

My grocer predicts that the prices will go up further in the coming weeks. But our government says it will not allow the situation to get out of hand. It was only a few months ago that the government asked the people to eat more rice when flour prices went up. But today, rice is beyond the common man's reach.

In the early 1990s, Sri Lanka achieved self-sufficiency in rice for the first time in several centuries. Where did we go wrong?

In the recent past, a coterie of big-time rice mill owners with political backing was blamed for hoarding and artificially jacking up the prices. But this time, it was the weather.

The rain came down heavily in March — a usually a dry month during which the rice farmer would collect his harvest. The unusual weather pattern was blamed on factors related to global warming. Tens of thousands of paddy land went under water with thousands of farmers becoming destitute overnight, unable to reap the harvest.

The rains not only washed away all the hopes of the farmer but also put a damper to the New Year, which has its origin in the harvesting festival.

A desperate government pleaded with India, Pakistan and Myanmar to sell some rice. We are told that India, which has banned rice, exports to avoid a food crisis in that country, has agreed to sell 100,000 tonnes of rice to Sri Lanka. But other reports say we have just got a promise from India. The promise was more than enough for the government to feed us — not rice but hopes and propaganda.

The World Food Programme in a recent report listed Sri Lanka among eleven countries identified as "hunger's global hotspots". The other countries on the list are Afghanistan, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Iraq, Syria, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Zimbabwe.

Experts attribute the global rice in food prices to several factors, including prolonged droughts or floods in food-exporting countries, the diversion of crops to make bio-fuel, the rise in transport costs as a result of increased oil prices and restrictions on export of food by countries such as India.

Is the Sri Lankan government prepared to face the upcoming crisis? It is no simple matter, for rice has been the core of Sri Lanka's politics since we gained independence in 1948. Rice politics has accounted for the rise and fall of many governments. Independent Sri Lanka's first major social upheaval was over rice. The world rice prices had skyrocketed because of the Korean War.

The then United National Party government found it difficult to maintain the subsidy on rice. It increased the price of a measure of rice from 25 cents to 70 cents. The Left parties led by the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) organised a day of civil disobedience or strike on August 12, 1953. The response was overwhelming. The government panicked and deployed the army to crush the agitation. Scores of people died and hundreds were arrested. But at the general election held three years later, the UNP suffered a humiliating defeat.

The fall of the Sirimavo Bandaranaike government in 1977 was also attributed to rice politics. She came to power, promising that she would give every Sri Lankan two measures of rice free. When the opposition queried as to how she would find the rice, she said her party would bring it even from the moon. Obviously, she could not fulfil her promise and she lost the general election in 1977.

Will Sri Lanka witness food riots in the coming weeks or months? The main opposition United National Party recently organised demonstrations against the rising food prices but not many people joined the protests. The reason: The people still believe that the government is winning the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and once the LTTE is defeated, there will be economic boom. But it is only a matter of time before the people question the government's promises of better times ahead. The signs are already visible.

Last week, a newspaper carried a story saying rice was available at Rs 60. The following day, a group of housewives held a protest outside a newspaper office demanding to know where they could find rice at Rs 60.


Fleeing LTTE cadres complain of heightened Tiger atrocities

The incidents of child recruitment and forcible conscription are on the rise in the Wanni and is getting worse with each passing day, a Sea Tiger escapee told the Daily News.

Following an appeal by Security Forces to LTTE cadres to surrender with the promise of transforming their lives, around 54 Tiger cadres including Sea Tiger cadres and sympathisers had given themselves up at the Rehabilitation Centre in Jaffna during the last three months.

The Rehabilitation Centre was established in 1995 for LTTE surrendees but this was disrupted due to the continuing conflict in the Northern front. The Security Forces once again reactivated the Centre in February and placed in direct charge under the Presidential Secretariat.

“Since the Security Forces announcement to the LTTE cadres to give up terrorism and surrender themselves, around 54 Tiger cadres had given themselves up at the centre from February to March. They were between 17 and 50 years,” Co-ordinating Officer Colonel J.J. Mohotti said.

The LTTE surrendees will be rehabilitated at the centre by providing vocational training which will prepare them even for foreign employment.

“We are providing vocational training to the LTTE surrendees such as sewing, wiring and motor mechanics. The duration of the training will range from six months to one year depending on the training category. Those who wish to seek foreign employment will be given an opportunity to find jobs abroad. We have already sent one such LTTE surrendee for overseas employment,” the Colonel added.

Colonel Mohotti said parents and guardians of the LTTE surrendees were allowed to visit them on Sundays and Wednesdays. The centre is operated with the assistance of the ICRC, UNICEF, local government agencies and other sources.

“We are confident that the LTTE surrendees will be reformed. We are aware of their real reasons for surrendering. Therefore, we hope they will be good citizens,” he said.

The LTTE which is fast losing control in the Wanni is disrupting civilian life. “Child recruitment, proscription and intimidation are high,” Colonel Mohotti added.

K. Robinson, 27, was recruited to the LTTE Sea Tiger Wing at the age of 14 in 1995.

“I have received training in the Mullaitivu seas and taken part in four sea attacks against the Navy. I was among those deployed for sea attacks in Kalpitiya, Pulmodai, Nayaru and Pesalai seas. I lost part of my right leg in 1998. I was also a member of the Black Tiger reinforcements in an attack targeting a Navy ship in Mamunai,” he said.

During the ceasefire agreement, Robinson left the outfit and moved to Jaffna to start a new life.

“I got married and began a new life in Jaffna, but the LTTE never let me settle down. They were looking for me and threatened my family members and compelled me to rejoin the outfit. I was assisting the LTTE to carry out claymore attacks against the Security Forces in Jaffna,” Robinson said.

He asserted that he is safe with the Security Forces and was positive of turning a new leaf in life. “I have surrendered to the Security Forces denouncing terrorism and look forward to the future with a new ray of hope. I am awaiting foreign employment,” he said.

He said the LTTE has lost the sympathy of the Tamils.

“They don’t fight for the Tamils. People in the Wanni front are made to suffer and they forcefully recruit children to the outfit. Every family is forced to sacrifice one member to the battle field”, he added.

K. Thevarasan, 37, a father of three joined the LTTE in 1987 and surrendered to the Security Forces on February 2008.

“I was recruited to the LTTE when I was 17 years and left the outfit when the Indian Army was in Sri Lanka after three years of combat,” he said.

“In order to start a new life, I continued my studies and became a Manager at the Palmyra Corporation in Chavakachcheri. I also got married and have three children. While I was continuing my normal life, I started receiving threats from the LTTE and their intelligence was looking for me.

Initially, I surrendered to the Human Rights Commission in Jaffna last year and I was later produced before the Jaffna Magistrate and remanded.

Following the Security Forces announcement of an amnesty, I surrendered at the centre and feel safe. I am positive of a bright future for myself and my family”, Thevarasan added.


Sri Lanka troops take Tiger bunkers on new year's day

Sri Lankan soldiers patrol along the 'de facto' frontline at Nager Kovil in the Jaffna Peninsula, north of Colombo, on April 6, 2008. Security forces smashed through defences of Tamil separatists in northern Sri Lanka, killing at least five rebels as the country marked the traditional new year, the defence ministry said Monday.

Security forces smashed through defences of Tamil separatists in northern Sri Lanka, killing at least five rebels as the country marked the traditional new year, the defence ministry said Monday.

Government troops captured eight bunkers of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the Jaffna peninsula on Sunday, the day of the new year shared by the majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils, the defence ministry said.

It said a total of five guerrillas were killed and another 16 wounded in clashes on Sunday while military losses were placed at one soldier killed and another wounded.

The ministry figures show that at least 92 guerrillas had been killed since Saturday. However, the LTTE said in a statement on Saturday night that they lost only three of their fighters and claimed killing 25 soldiers.

At least 2,850 Tamil Tiger rebels have been killed by government troops since the start of the year, while 172 soldiers have lost their lives during the same period, according to defence ministry figures.

Verification of casualty claims is impossible as Colombo bars journalists and aid workers from travelling to embattled areas.

Tens of thousands of people have died since 1972 when the Tamil Tigers launched an armed struggle to carve out an independent homeland in the island's north and east for Tamils.

Canada: Counterterrorism police move on Tamil group

Counterterrorism police in Quebec and Ontario effectively shut down a non-profit organization for Canadian Tamils this weekend due to allegations it has been raising money to finance terrorist activities in Sri Lanka.

The RCMP was expected to announce details of its unprecedented actions as early as today, but several sources said police had moved in to enforce a Federal Court restraining order against the World Tamil Movement.

The WTM's offices in Montreal and Toronto have been under police investigation for six years, and were raided by police in 2006. While no charges have yet resulted, the decision to seek a restraining order suggests Ottawa is aggressively pursuing the group.

The restraining order pertains to real estate in Montreal and other assets in Toronto.

The recent events are focused mostly on Montreal. Police sealed off the Montreal WTM office on Friday, said Steven Slimovitch, the group's lawyer. He said his clients were barred from entering the premises, disrupting community programs.

"A Federal Court judge has issued an order to seal the office of the World Tamil Movement and to essentially put it under the trusteeship of the federal government," he said.

The order was issued under a section of the Criminal Code dealing with terrorism financing, but Mr. Slimovitch said no defence counsel were present for the hearing and his clients deny the allegations they are financing terrorists.

"My clients have never been charged with terrorism-financing, and my clients have never had a chance to defend themselves against terrorism-financing accusations," he said.

The action is the latest development in two related RCMP-led investigations called Project Osaluki and Project Crible. The probes, by the Integrated National Security Enforcement Teams in Ontario and Quebec, are examining allegations the WTM has been funnelling money to the Tamil Tigers to finance civil war in Sri Lanka.

The Tamil Tigers are an outlawed terrorist group in Canada. Knowingly raising money for the group or financing its activities is against the law and punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Many members of Canada's large ethnic Tamil community support the Tigers and their fight to create an independent state for Sri Lanka's Tamil minority.

Police went to court last week to ask for restraining orders against WTM properties in Toronto and Montreal, said a source familiar with the case. Officers were in the process late yesterday of serving official notice to the people associated with the properties.

Police officers were having difficulty finding at least one per-son linked to the group and its properties. The RCMP was apparently waiting for that to take place before publicly announcing the moves it had taken.

This appears to be a first in the realm of terrorism, but the police action is similar to the way police routinely deal with organized crime: Officers will appear before a judge in private and present affidavits seeking judicial approval to restrain properties considered proceeds of crime.

While the property is restrained, the owner cannot sell it, move it, alter it or dispose of it. The order secures the property pending a court hearing. The owners are then notified and can appear before the courts and mount a defence against the Crown's allegations.

A judge will then decide whether the restrained property should be forfeited to the Crown or returned to its owner. The process is similar to how police restrain fortified clubhouses of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club and other bike gangs.

The weekend police action in Montreal has disrupted community activities scheduled for the group's headquarters in the city's Cote-des-Neiges district, Mr. Slimovitch said.

"Essentially they're shutting down the entire community -- artistic things, sporting things," he said. "My clients completely deny any terrorism financing. They support the Tamil people and they support the Tamil people's right to self-determination, but they are very much against any form of terrorism."

An official with the WTM Montreal office declined comment and referred all questions to Mr. Slimovitch. The lawyer said he intends to go to court to have the reasons for the order disclosed.

Corporal Elaine Lavergne of the RCMP said the police force could not comment as a result of the secrecy order.

"We are under the authority of a court," she said. She could not even disclose the level of court that issued the order, which she said is sealed from public view. "It has never happened before," she said of the sweeping secrecy provisions.

The president of the WTM's Ontario branch, Sitta Sittampalam, also declined to comment yesterday. "I was asked by my lawyer not to reveal anything on this matter," he said. "I'm not in a position to divulge anything."

(National Post)


Terror funding probe revolves around conflict between Singhalese, Tamils

Canada's biggest terrorism financing investigation revolves around a beautiful island with a tragic history. Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) gained independence from Britain in 1948 but fell almost immediately into ethnic conflict. The Singhalese majority imposed harsh restrictions on the ethnic Tamil minority, suppressing the Tamil language and limiting Tamil enrolment in universities and the civil service. Ethnic rioting and civil war followed, fought primarily between ruthless separatist guerrillas, the Tamil Tigers, and the government. The Tamil Tigers resorted to terrorism and pioneered the now-familiar tactic of sending suicide bombers into crowds wearing explosive vests. For their part, government forces have been accused of widespread war crimes against Tamils.

Tamil movement held to account

Police probe alleged collection of 'war taxes'

The World Tamil Movement headquarters is a red brick industrial building on a strip of auto body and garment shops a block from Highway 401.

A Canadian flag waves above the front door.

Inside, a giant portrait of a Tamil guerrilla leader fills a wall above a stack of Tamil newspapers reporting the latest skirmishes in the jungles of Sri Lanka.

Down the hall in the library, Tamil books are stacked neatly on shelves. But otherwise the building is empty and dark, its contents in the hands of RCMP officers.

"We are functioning but our actions are limited," says Dave Thevarajan, 67, a retired civil engineer who volunteers at the WTM office. "We are trying to do our best but most of the rooms are closed because of the suspicions."

Those suspicions revolve around money: The RCMP accuses the World Tamil Movement of collecting "war taxes" from Canada's large ethnic Tamil community and funnelling the cash to the Tamil Tigers guerrillas in Sri Lanka.

In 2006, police backed a three-tonne GMC 6500 gentle-ride cargo van into the WTM parking lot in Scarborough, armed with a search warrant alleging the innocuous-looking building was a front for terrorist fundraising.

For three days, police tagged and seized more than 1,000 items, and then loaded them into the truck, leased for the occasion from U-Haul. Flags, T-shirts, golf shirts, ball caps, desk clocks, mugs, key chains and bumper stickers -- all bearing the militaristic Tamil Tigers emblem -- were hauled away.

But it was financial records police were after, and they found them too: pledge forms, receipts, ledger books and lists of contributors. "Significant evidence of terrorist financing was found," RCMP Corporal Satish Tarachandra wrote in a court affidavit.

Two years later, however, the investigation is still underway. So is a related probe in Montreal, Project Crible, which is examining alleged links between the Quebec chapter of the WTM and the Tamil Tigers (also known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE).

Police were under pressure to act because a judge had given them only until April 12 to hang on to the evidence seized in Montreal and until April 22 to keep the materials taken from the WTM office in Toronto.

Though the RCMP would not comment yesterday, sources said officers moved in during the weekend to enforce a federal order that places restraints on WTM property.

"We are waiting," says Sitta Sittampalam, the president of the WTM Ontario branch, said in an interview before the weekend's developments. "Probably they have a lot of materials taken from the office…. Probably they might need translation, a lot of them may be in the Tamil language. That may be the cause."

Parliament outlawed fundraising for terrorism in 2001. Since then, only one person has been charged. Prapa Thambithurai was arrested in British Columbia on March 14 for allegedly collecting money for the Tamil Tigers. He was active in the Vancouver chapter of the WTM, which is how he came to the attention of counterterrorism investigators in British Columbia.

Other than that, the terror financing law has spawned several investigations but no charges. A look at Project Osaluki may hint at why: language barriers, logistical problems and the challenge of tracing the global flow of money from Canada to the hands of terrorists.

RCMP spokesman Corporal Marc LaPorte says he could not comment because the investigation was ongoing, but details of the case are described in hundreds of pages of documents filed in Ontario and Quebec courts during the past two years.

Sergeant John MacDonald, the lead investigator and a member of the RCMP-led Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, described the probe in an affidavit as "complex, extremely time-consuming and cumbersome."

The difficulties began as soon as police began their search. The RCMP did not have an evidence vault big enough to store the hundreds of boxes taken from the WTM. Nor could any nearby police detachment accommodate the investigators and their U-Haul of materials.

Police had to take everything to a covert RCMP Emergency Response Team base while the sergeant looked for a long-term work site. It took three weeks to find commercial office space -- and then all the exhibits had to be loaded into a tractor-trailer and taken to the new location.

Between six and 10 officers sifted through the evidence, as well as a translator, since almost all the materials were in the Tamil language, which uses a script called vatteluttu and has 12 vowels and 18 consonants.

A forensic accountant analyzed hundreds of financial documents. Then officers had to chase leads. "These are time-consuming activities necessitating a slow methodical approach," the sergeant writes.

In the view of Mr. Thevarajan, investigators are wasting their time looking for something that isn't there. "The RCMP and CSIS were trying to bring a link between us and the LTTE, but we are not LTTE," he says.

The World Tamil Movement was founded in the 1980s by expatriates in Toronto who had fled Sri Lanka but remained eager to further the cause of Tamil independence. Allegations soon surfaced that the WTM was effectively an arm of the Tigers.

The police investigation into the WTM began in Ontario on July 9, 2002. But it was not until four years later, when the federal Conservatives added the Tigers to Canada's list of proscribed terrorist groups, that things heated up.

Two days after the announcement by Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, a police surveillance team spotted a suspect removing boxes from the WTM building in Montreal. Fearing evidence was being destroyed, police moved in to conduct a search.

In Toronto, surveillance teams also thought they saw materials being relocated from the WTM office to a grocery store called Ambal Trading and the Tamil Academy of Arts and Technology. All three addresses were searched beginning on April 21, 2006.

Police say they seized: - Lists of Tamil Canadians and the amounts they had donated, as well as pre-authorized bank payment forms; - Lists of businesses that had made donations in multiples of $10,000; - Plastic collection jars with the WTM and Tamil Tigers logos side by side; - Computer disks that police said suggests money flows from Montreal to Toronto, then to other countries.

"The World Tamil Movement acts as the de facto taxation arm of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and … utilizes collectors to collect funds from Canadian Tamils on an organized and systematic basis," Sgt. MacDonald wrote.

Police also found a manual on missile design, tributes to Tamil Tigers "martyrs," "large numbers of documents pertaining to LTTE cadres, operatives and activities" and photos suggesting the WTM encourages Tamil Canadian children to "develop a cult-like devotion and obedience" to the leader of the Tamil Tigers, he wrote.

The lengthy list of seized items, obtained by the National Post, suggests a reverence for the Tamil Tigers and its leader but whether it translates into a criminal case remains unproven, and the law itself is still untested. It is also unclear whether the investigation has made a dent in Tamil Tigers fundraising efforts in Canada.

Last Monday, Conservative MP Art Hanger tabled a petition in the House of Commons signed by more than 1,000 Canadians of Sri Lankan origin. It urged the government to "ensure adequate surveillance and prosecution of the LTTE's front organizations and bogus charities."

Volunteers at the Toronto WTM headquarters say their numbers have dwindled since the police raid. Some don't want to be associated with the group while it is under police scrutiny, but Mr. Sittampalam says there is nothing to do but wait. "We would like to have our things back," he says. "Anyway we'll wait for the deadline, that's the best we can do now."

Difference between "Tamils" and "Tamil Tigers" - by a Tamil who had insights into Tamil Tigers

* Pirabaharan killed all the persons he worked with before he became the leader of the Tigers.
* After Pirabaharan became the leader of the Tigers, he started killing all Tamil political leaders, elected mayors, university professors and many innocent Tamils who had criticized Tigers.
* In 1990 Pirabaharan wanted 100,000 Muslims in the North of Sri Lanka to get out within 24 hours - a text book example of ‘ethnic cleansing’.
* If all Tamils like Tigers, why is Greater Colombo flooded with Tamils from Tiger controlled areas?
* Why are none of the Tamil business people investing in Tiger controlled areas?
* Last thirty years, Tigers killed more Tamils than any body else.

The story begins:

The actions of Velupillai Pirabaharan, the leader of Tamil Tigers (LTTE) prove he is real tiger. The only business he knows is killing. He killed Kalvian Kaadu Chetty, the person who named the group "Tigers" and the original leader of the Tiger group.

Then Pirabaharan tried to kill the next leader of Tigers, Uma Maheswaran in a shoot out in India. He killed the founding members of the Tigers, Michael and Pat Kunam. Pirabaharan himself tipped off the Police about the then leaders of Tigers, Kuttimani and Thangathurai and their whereabouts. This incident led to Kuttimani and Thangathurai’s incarceration until their terrible deaths in the Welikade jail.

Pirabaharan killed all the persons he worked with before he became the leader of the Tigers. He even killed the last surviving Tiger group founding member Sabalingam who was residing in France, because Sabalingam started writing about Pirabaharan's power hungry killings.

After Pirabaharan became the leader of the Tigers, he started killing all Tamil political leaders, elected mayors, university professors and many innocent Tamils who had criticized Tigers. Pirabaharan banned all Tamil political organizations for the last twenty years and finally the international community including USA, Canada, European Union, India and Australia has banned the Tigers, mainly due to Tigers' continuous use of child soldiers and their terror activities.

Pirabaharan also killed hundreds of people who were members and supporters of Tamil political organizations. Pirabaharan killed the Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. He even killed the Sri Lankan President Premadasa who had provided helicopter loads of weapons and money to Tigers.

Pirabaharan clearly knows that under any circumstances except at gunpoint, majority of Tamils won't accept his leadership. That's why he killed all other Tamil Political leaders, to become as the so-called "Sole Leader of Tamils".

Ramachandran a.k.a MGR, former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu gave Pirabaharan more than 1.25 billion rupees in 1985. Tamils provided their support to Tigers at gunpoint only and never helped Tigers to grow to this extent. Without MGR massive financial support and Premadasa's supply of weapons and money, Tigers won't exist today.

Tigers are terror loving trigger-happy killers, created by MGR and Premadasa. Tigers' killings are severely affecting the future of Tamils since the killings created a huge political vacuum.

In 1990 Pirabaharan wanted 100,000 Muslims in the North of Sri Lanka to get out within 24 hours, leaving their belongings and treasured valuables - that was a text book example of ‘ethnic cleansing’. Prabhakaran made Idi Amin look like an angel as Idi Amin had a heart to give the Asians in Uganda three months to leave the country and not 24 hours.

Most of the young people who are younger than 35 years, do not know the history of Tigers. They believe that, Tigers became so powerful, because of continuous outpouring support from majority of the Tamils.

If Tamils like Tigers, why is Greater Colombo flooded with Tamils from Tiger controlled areas? If majority of Tamils like Tigers, Tiger controlled areas should be flooded with Tamils from other areas. Why are Tamils trying to escape Tiger controlled areas, rather than migrating to Tiger controlled area?

If Tigers lift the exit pass system and allow free movement in the Tiger controlled areas, except the people on Tigers' payroll, every body else will leave Tiger controlled area. The only supporters of Tigers are that they either do not know anything about Tigers or gain benefits from Tigers.

Why are none of the Tamil business people investing in Tiger controlled areas? Why are even farmers leaving Tiger controlled areas? Why are Tamils living abroad trying to help their relatives to leave Tiger controlled areas? In Tiger controlled areas nobody can express any political opinions or different ideas.

Only things allowed to say are those that support Tigers. No way can anyone criticize Tigers and live the next day in a Tiger controlled area. Tigers that do not care about human lives will never understand even the basics of human rights. Even the hardcore Tiger supporters are not willing to relocate to Tiger controlled areas.

Majority of the Tamil refugees, who claimed asylum in western countries, told the authorities that they were running away from Tigers. If majority of Tamils who live abroad support Tigers, why do they have to be threatened to collect money for Tigers as reported by the Human Rights Watch?

If majority of the Tamils who live abroad support Tigers, those Tamils would line up in front of the Tiger branch offices to drop off money. The major serious problem Tamils are facing right now is there are hundreds of very young terror loving trigger happy Tigers who know only one thing, which is killing another human. Last thirty years, Tigers killed more Tamils than any body else. Also more Tigers were killed by Pirabaharan than any body else.

Majority of Sri Lankan Tamils are patiently hoping, praying and waiting for a new young democratic political visionary as a leader. Until then, gunpoint Tiger culture and never ending killing spree by Tigers will grow and continue.


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Impossible dream - Sri Lanka's triumphant government

FOR a quarter of a century, Sri Lanka’s bloody ethnic conflict between the majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils has sputtered on, with periods of all-out war and low-intensity insurgency, ill-observed ceasefires and frequent terrorist atrocities.

It had become conventional wisdom that there was no military solution. The government could not be ousted and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which had brutally monopolised the Tamil struggle, could not be defeated.

That is still conventional wisdom outside Sri Lanka. But in Colombo, the scent of victory is in the air. The outside world’s efforts to persuade the government to pursue a peaceful solution are floundering.

Indeed, so confident is the government that its foreign minister, Rohitha Bogollagama, this week gave a speech in London entitled “Post-conflict development: Efforts of a democracy”.

He was talking mainly about the east of the country, where the Tigers have been routed, thanks to a split in their own ranks. The holding of local elections in the area in March for the first time in 14 years was a fillip for the government’s self-confidence.

These elections let the government show that it was possible to “reintegrate” one part of the Tigers into mainstream Sri Lankan politics; the party formed by the breakaway Tigers, the TMVP, did quite well.

Mr Bohollagama was able to point to this as a model for the continuing conflict in the north, where the Tigers still control two of Sri Lanka’s 25 districts.

He stressed that his government was committed to a political process. But it has abrogated the ceasefire it signed with the Tigers in 2002 (which had admittedly become a largely meaningless cover for an intensifying conflict).

And he quoted approvingly the words of Britain’s foreign secretary, David Miliband, that “military victories never provide solutions, but they can provide the space for political and economic solutions to be found. And without military power, the result can be more bloodshed.”

Yet this is somewhat to misrepresent the position of Britain and most other countries on Sri Lanka. They tend to emphasise the first bit of Mr Milliband’s aphorism: that there can be no military solution.

And many are not convinced that the government of Sri Lanka is doing enough to pursue a political settlement. But they are finding it hard to influence it.

They do not want to do anything to give comfort to the Tigers, with its appalling record of murder, terrorism and extortion. So India, for example, helps the Sri Lankan army with some training and equipment.

So does America, despite having earned the wrath of Sri Lanka’s government for the State Department’s annual human-rights report, which this year highlighted the failure to curb assassinations, abductions and disappearances.

In the search for a lever over the Sri Lankan government’s policy, many eyes have lighted on an unlikely instrument: Sri Lanka’s clothing exports.

The European Union gives Sri Lanka preferential tariff treatment under a scheme known as “GSP Plus”. Largely as a result, Sri Lankan garment exports are booming: they make up half of all Sri Lanka’s exports, 67% of its industrial production and 10% its of GDP, employing 270,000 people directly and 700,000 indirectly. The EU accounts for 45% of Sri Lanka’s garment exports.

The scheme comes up for renewal this year and Sri Lanka is engaged in a campaign to ensure that the war does not get in the way.

It has even taken the initiative with a “Garments without Guilt” campaign, advertising itself as an ethical and green producer (if not necessarily the lowest-cost) without child or bonded labour, discrimination or pollution.

Loss of the tariff privileges might not have the disastrous impact the industry claims. But the battle to keep them may at least bring some benefits to those working in the industry—if not to those being killed and injured in Sri Lanka’s war.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Nedumaran, supporters held for supporting Tamil Tigers

Tamil nationalist leader Pazha Nedumaran and at least 164 members of his outfit were held here Saturday for staging a demonstration in support of the Tamil Tigers and against the Sri Lankan and Indian governments.

They were released at night. Nedumaran and members of his Tamil Desiya Iyakkam (Tamil nationalist movement) including a dozen women, had raised slogans in favour of the banned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and for a "Tamil eelam" (Tamil nation).

Police said several "pro-Lankan Tamil groups", including Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK-Dalit Panther) supporters, tried to stage a demonstration at the Memorial Hall near the railway station without permission.

The groups were also protesting the "sale of arms by India to Sri Lanka". They also condemned firing by Sri Lanka's navy on fishermen from Tamil Nadu.

Visiting Sri Lankan Minister for Highways Jayaraj Fernando, meanwhile, maintained that the frequent attacks on Indian fishermen were carried out by the LTTE and not by the Sri Lankan navy.

LTTE attack destroys navy craft: ten missing

Ten Navy personnel were reported missing yesterday morning after one of the Navy’s Fast Attack Craft (FAC) was caught in what is believed to be an LTTE sea mine explosion off Nayaru, Mullaitivu, a Navy spokesman said. He said six sailors were rescued and a search operation was going on for the missing sailors.

The spokesman said this was the first time a navy craft was hit by such a sea mine explosion though such undersea mines had been detected earlier off Mullaitivu. However the LTTE claimed that it had mounted a suicide attack on the Navy’s Dvora killing 14 sailors and losing three Black Sea Tigers in the attack. But, the Navy disputed the LTTE version. (See Situation Report by Iqbal Athas on Page 5 for more details.)

Meanwhile heavy clashes erupted between the Army and the LTTE in Pirmanalankulam in the Mannar district. The military said they killed 15 LTTE cadres and lost two soldiers while capturing one square kilometre in the area. At least 11 soldiers were also injured. Meanwhile heavy clashes erupted between the Army and the LTTE in areas southeast of Adampan, Mannar.

A military spokesman said last night 22 LTTE cadres and four soldiers were killed in the clashes. At least 26 LTTE cadres and 16 soldiers were also injured in the clahses, he said. He said the troops overran eight LTTE bunker defences in the area.

A multi-pronged assault on LTTE territory was launched at 4.45 a.m. yesterday morning with the advancing troops directing heavy artillery and mortar fire at LTTE positions, the military spokesman said. He said LTTE cadres had run back to their defence lines in the Wanni. Reports from the Nagarkovil area last night said heavy fighting was taking place in the area with both sides firing heavy artillery.

Earlier in the day, the Defence Ministry said seven LTTE cadres were killed in clashes with the troops in the Muhamalai and Nagarkoivl areas. The security forces suffered no casualties, the ministry said.

FAC under sea mine attack

A locally built Fast Attack Craft (FAC) of the Navy came under a sea mine attack off Kokilai in the North-Eastern waters around 2.25 a.m. yesterday, Navy spokesperson Commander D. K. P. Dassanayake said.

Commander Dassanayake told the Sunday Observer that the Fast Attack Craft was caught in a LTTE sea mine while it was engaged in a routine sea patrol along with another FAC off Kokilai in the North-Eastern waters around 2.25 a.m. yesterday.

"The second FAC which was in the vicinity rushed to the scene and rescued six sailors including the skipper of the vessel when the explosion occurred. Sixteen sailors were on board at the time the FAC came under attack.

A search for the other ten sailors is being carried out by Navy vessels," Commander Dassanayake said.

Locally built fast Attack Craft caught in an explosion

One locally built fast Attack craft out the two on routine patrol off Nayaru caught in an explosion in the wee hours today early morning around 2.00am, Sri Lanka Navy sources said.

According to the Navy, “the boat being caught in the explosion started to take in water making it difficult for the crew to manoeuvre it to safe area. The impending consequence was unavoidable peril leaving the crew with no alternative other than abandoning the craft. Then they got onto life rafts and started drifting. Six members of the crew have thereafter been rescued by other boats. A search operation is still underway.”

It is suspected that LTTE had unscrupulously laid sea mines in a bid of avenge due repeated losses in the recent past.

Meanwhile, fleeing from un-liberated area in Vedithalthievu, a family of five members consisting of 35 years old father, 32 years old mother, 12 years old eldest son, 05 year old son and the 01 year old youngest son sought refuge of the Navy by arriving at the Fishing Marshalling point at Pallimunai in Mannar, around 7.00 AM today (22Mrach), according to Navy sources.

The family, in desperate hopes of living condition in the un-cleared areas due to atrocities perpetrated by LTTE cadres and forced conscription, arrived on locally made boat known as Wallam fitted with 9.9 horse power outboard motor, even risking their lives.




Last week Sayant Khongton locked up his small grocery store for the last time. An unknown man on a motorcycle gunned down Khongton, who was also a local police officer, as he walked out the front door of his shop in the southern Thai town of Yala. He became the latest victim in a shadowy six-week campaign of murderous attacks against soldiers, police officers and other symbols of authority in Thailand's underdeveloped, Muslim-dominated south. No one seems to know who's behind it. "Take your pick," says one police intelligence official. "Disgruntled Muslims, separatists, foreign Islamic terrorists--you could make a case against any of them."

Thaksin Shinawatra, Thailand's uber-confident prime minister, took office three years ago promising to resolve decades of anger and perceived injustice among the south's 1.8 million Muslims within his first three months in office. But since the violence erupted on Jan. 4, when dozens of gunmen simultaneously attacked a military camp and torched three police posts and 17 local schools in Narathiwat province, it's clear the situation in the south has gone from bad to worse. Not only have the attacks on police and military units continued, but there now appear to be retribution killings of Muslims as well. And Thaksin's heavy-handed pursuit of the perpetrators has many southerners feeling like targets.

Within hours of the Jan. 4 attacks, parts of Narathiwat and the majority-Muslim provinces of Yala and Pattani were under martial law. Thousands of Army soldiers and special forces have poured into the region. Authorities have arrested Muslim clerics on suspicion of murder, while soldiers have raided Islamic schools looking for weapons and suspects.

Thai intelligence sources say that a separatist group--or groups--numbering no more than a few hundred people is probably responsible for the death and destruction, which has claimed at least 15 lives. Clearly the Muslim community could be a vital ally in Bangkok's hunt for the militants. But so far all Thaksin's dragnet seems to be doing is alienating them. "Could going into [Islamic] schools with [trained] dogs, not taking off your shoes and arresting teachers be counterproductive?" one Western diplomat asks rhetorically. "Yes."

It's no surprise that Thailand's southern Muslims view the government's troops with some resentment. The Muslim community believes that it has been neglected for decades by a succession of Thai governments, which at most have taken a half-hearted interest in the southern provinces' economic development. The monthly household income in Narathiwat is half the national average and infant mortality rates in the three southern provinces are as much as 40 percent higher than the rest of the country's. "Without real human-resource development, these people will not have real opportunities," says Surin Pitsuwan, a former foreign minister and prominent Muslim figure. "They have to feel they belong."

If anything, the military's brute force may be fueling sympathy for the militants. Instead of denouncing the attacks on soldiers, Muslim leaders are decrying Bangkok's jackboot tactics. They also claim that the Thai government bears responsibility for the spate of retribution murders and kidnappings of Muslims--crimes that authorities allegedly aren't pursuing with equal vigor. "The local people are living in fear," says Nimur Makache, deputy head of the Islamic Yala Council. Their anger runs so deep that last week the Yala council, as well as its sister Islamic committees in Pattani and Narathiwat, temporarily broke off communication with the central government. "[The government] needs to be very careful," warns Pitsuwan.

But Thaksin, who took direct control over the southern operations from his deputy last week, must also move quickly. Thai intelligence sources say that both homegrown and foreign terrorist groups have seriously stepped up their recruitment of young Thais. Their pitch: it's far more honorable to work toward the creation of a Muslim state than to be loyal to a government that never cared for you in the first place. In response, the Thai Army is considering running a mandatory "patriotic youth" program for young Muslim men to promote nationalism. "We respect Islam," says Lt. Gen. Jhumpol Munmhy, director of the National Intelligence Agency, "but we must say to them that... you can't think about separatism." It won't matter what the message is, though, if the audience doesn't trust the messenger.


A move on Pooneryn? Assault from the sea?

Pooneryn defence complex until November 1993 overlooked the Jaffna/Kilaly lagoon and proved to be the nemesis for Tamil Tigers' free movement/logistics activities. It also proved to be a hindrance for Tamil Tiger radio traffic between Wanni mainland and the Jaffna peninsula which, barring the PALAY/KKS HSZ, was under complete control of the Tamil Tigers. This was the primary reason for Operation Thavalai (frog) to take place to overwhelm this isolated defence complex. The secondary reason was to use the same T-59I 130mm howitzers the SLA used to shell the Tamil Tiger dominated Jaffna peninsula, for their own targets, i.e PALALY/KKS HSZ and any other target that falls within in its range spectrum.

Since the fall of the base the Tamil Tigers have put this sector to good use. The POONERYN sector has been used as a crucial launching pad for its sea tigers during its many assaults on Jaffna islets and during its failed Jaffna offensive of 2006. It is also being used as pointed out above to disrupt air traffic of PALAY base and for possible decapitation strikes against SLA top brass.

Out of these, intermittent shelling disrupting the vital air bridge and possible decapitation strikes against military top rungs are the main concerns springing from this sector for the SLA. There is much debate over over how to neutralise the howitzers in this sector especially among the lay public.

The first option is to use air recon and vector in the Kfir/MIG27 for air interdiction. During the Tamil Tigers' failed 2006 Jaffna offensive, heavy 130mm barrages were directed at the PALAY and KKS bases to cut off the air and naval bridge linking the Jaffna peninsula to the Southern mainland. During this period an AN32B transporter was used as bait to lure the Tamil Tigers to fire the two 130mm howitzers positioned at K-point while Beech B200T SIGINT was on a recon mission loitering above. Soon as the firing began the Beech picked up the heat signature through its FLIR sensors. Two Kfirs were scrambled on the 19th of August 2006 and successfully destroyed the two howitzers. Since this strike the Tamil Tigers have used their remaining howitzers sparingly and intermittently using a network of underground bunkers/tunnels to avoid detection. This is quite a similar tactic employed by Lieutenant General Tadamichi Kuribayashi's Japanese during its siege of Iwo Jima during WWII. It was Iwo Jima that Japanese heavy artillery were concealed in massive chambers reinforced by steel doors built inside Mount Suribachi, to keep off projectiles from American bombardment.

The second option is to occupy the land and push back/capture the howitzers putting PALAY /KKS beyond its 27Km range. With troops currently operating in and around the Mannar rice bowl 54Kms South, the sole option for occupying the land is to insert troops in via the sea or air. With the POONERYN sector's geography being a mirror of the MUHAMALE/NAGARKOVIL/PALLAI sector the same reasons I explained earlier on should SLA make a move on EPS applies here.

The land again is open and barren with little or no cover for any troops that would have landed in attempting to secure the beach head. The open stretch of land further necessitates the need for the armoured cavalry, which again needs to be brought in from mechanized landers. For it to be successful at least 100 such units are necessary and the deployment has to be in real quick time (Bear in mind that landing crafts of SLN can achieve only a max of 20 knots) to drive home the element of surprise and to ensure the beach head remains out of Tamil Tiger mortar range. Also worth to note is that the Tamil Tigers had positioned cadres loyal to its former political head specifically to defend this sector. Which means one should expect significant amount of defence along this coast making the need for armour ever more important since it involves breaking a fortified line.

However, what can be done is to reduce the defence in depth the Tamil Tigers possess in this sector. A small example:

The independent brigade led by late Brigadier (then Colonel) Percy Fernando landing at the Eastern coast of Jaffna to capture the jetty during Riviresa II. This landing took place while 532 brigade was moving from the ground towards Jaffna East and Air Mobile brigade had landed to secure the Jaffna fort. In this instance the Tamil Tigers were deprived the defence in depth for the simple fact that their defences was thinned out and just weren’t able to muster any anti-amphibious defences.

It is very easy to fall into the trap when planning an assault from sea. It is not just a case of getting troops to a coastal belt but also getting the troops to cross the shoreline and enter the hinterland. It is no good performing an assault via sea merely based on maritime supremacy. You need to break out and achieve the overall objective that led to the assault in the first place.

The battle planners must be 100% certain why the landing is being undertaken and what the immediate aims are. They must know what troops will face, not just enemy's strengths and possible reinforcements, but also the terrain of the target area and local factors such as tides, beach conditions and mud flats which might impact on the landings. The importance of such intelligence was magnified during the successful landing of Incheon during the Korean war when "Trudy Jackson" led by Eugene Clark relayed detailed intelligence on enemy defences, sea tide ranges, whether the beach could hold assault vehicles back to General Macarthur. On the other end stands the battle of Dieppe where the lack of intelligence led to the allied armour being stuck on the soft pebbled beach.

After having sufficient intelligence the landing takes place followed by the lodgement phase to secure the beach head for swift reinforcements and supplies.

Once the intelligence is in place they must consider the approach to the target beach head. The sea crossing could be just a few miles from surrounding islets or all the way from KKS with full naval supremacy in place. Prior to the landing the enemy defence must be softened up and breached. Troops must have the right equipment to proceed from sea to land while under fire. Subsequent to the landing lodgement phase begins to secure the beach head against counter attack and to ensure vital reinforcements and supplies start flowing swiftly and smoothly. Finally the troops must break out from the beach head and begin the next stage of the overall battleplan. It is critical to remember that assault from sea is rarely a battleplan just in itself. It is intended to be part of a larger military campaign.

Soon after lodgement troops need to break out to move to the next stage of the battleplan to avoid being pinned down.

To conclude, the failed operation Thrivida Pahara to relieve a besieged MULATIVU base in July 1996 can be brought up to show the importance of achieving the aforementioned objectives during a coastal assault battleplan. A coastal assault was the only way to reinforce the besieged base since it lies in close proximity to the shoreline. Special forces were airlifted from Trincomalee under the leadership of Lt. Col Fazly Laphir to secure a suitable beach head for troops that were just dispatched from KKS. These troops were also carrying vital supplies and were 20 miles away from the target shoreline. Due to heavy guerilla resistance the Special forces team were forced to make a landing 5Km South of MULATIVU at ALAMPIL. From there the team had to track North amidst heavy resistance. The all important naval supremacy for the reinforcing troops failed to exist due to Tamil Tiger sea wing and its homicide wing. One of the homicide boats managed to ram itself against the Shanghai class FGB SLNS Ranaviru killing 36 sailors on board. Due to heavy resistance the naval task force managed their landing only 3 days later and reached the base 7 days later since the raid, which by then the time frame to achieve the overall objective - relieving the siege on MULATIVU with vital supplies - had long gone.

Like General Macarthur General Holland Smith, and Lt. Gen Kobbekaduwa (Operation Balavegaya), get the tricky coastal assault right and you secure a stepping stone to ultimate victory. Get it wrong and you achieve massive loss of life, political and military disaster.

This is by no means to say the Pooneryn sector is not earmarked. The A32 is a very good prospect and is ideal as a MSR from ILLUPAIKADUWAI, POONERYN to Jaffna across the Sangupiddy ferry till the A9 is liberated from OMANTHAI to MUHAMALE. Unlike the A9 the A32 route needs to be defended from only one flank (East), which is a major advantage.

Only time will tell...


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Sri Lanka’s Underwater Defence Systems- Killing two birds with a single stone? by Commodore RS Vasan IN Retd

"Under water defence systems obviously is another nomenclature for mines of different description. During the height of cold war the underwater defence systems also included deep-sea moored sensors that could track submarines and other movements to be relayed to the receiving stations. Some of them were equipped to even release a homing torpedoes on the ICBM armed nuclear submarines that were proceeding to patrol stations."

The news paper reports on 23rd January 2008 about the installation of the “Underwater defence systems” in Sri Lankan waters is indeed an interesting phase in the fight against the Sea tigers soon after the abrogation of the Cease Fire Agreement (CFA). As reported in the press, Sri Lankan authorities/Navy have informed their counterparts about the measures to safeguard their interests as well as to prevent large-scale movement of the Sea tigers who are starved of essentials. The Naval Officer in Charge (NOIC) of Tamil Nadu has apparently informed the Chief Secretary of the State that it would indeed be now even more dangerous for our fishermen who routinely cross over to the Sri Lankan waters for fishing around Kachativu Island. This paper aims to examine some of the related issues in the background of sensitivity that is associated with fishing and security in these troubled waters.

Fishing Issues. Most of the issues related to fishing and security have been covered in my previous papers. However with out having to refer to those papers suffice to say that this has been the most contentious issue between the fishermen of Tamil Nadu and their Sri Lankan counter parts both civilian and military. It has been over three decades since the demarcation of the International Maritime Boundary Line (IBML). The maritime agreement of 1974 gave away the Kachativu and the rich fishing grounds around it to Sri Lanka. While New Delhi went to the extent of saying that Kachativu is just a barren Island, the Government in Tamil Nadu did not make much noise as borne out by facts/records.

With the dwindling of fishing stocks on our side of the IMBL and the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka that was equally intense on the sea front, the Tamil Nadu fishermen capitalised on the fishing ban that was imposed by the SL Navy during the intense phase of the struggle. On lifting of the ban on fishing the fishing communities of the two countries came in to conflict. The fishermen from Tamil Nadu who were sympathetic to the cause of Eelam and those who wanted to make a quick buck were also involved in illegal transportation of goods for sustaining the war effort of LTTE. The liberal subsidies by the Government for fishermen for Diesel encouraged some of the fishermen to trade in diesel and other essentials.

The transgression of the IMBL by our fishermen was also used to their advantage by the LTTE. When convenient, the LTTE chose to fire on our innocent fishermen and made out that it was the act of the Sri Lankan Navy. This invariably caused a furore in Tamil Nadu with political parties immediately getting in to the act at most times even with out any verification. The involvement of LTTE in the shooting and killing of our fishermen was conclusively proved in the case of the missing boat Krishna from Tamil Nadu, which was hijacked. This boat was subsequently sunk in Maldivian waters. Any arrest made by the SL Navy of our fishermen immediately compelled the State Government to request the Centre for intervention for the release of fishermen. Sri Lanka has been more than tolerant of this nuisance that has been going on for decades though legally Sri Lanka has every right to apprehend the erring fishermen and prosecute them under the law of the land.

Legality of the installation of underwater defence systems. Various provisions of the relevant laws on mining at sea during conflict as recognised by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are appended at the end of the article. After the successes of the Sri Lankan armed forces on both land and on water particularly since the assumption of office by Mahinda Rajapakha, The Sri Lankan leadership was encouraged to pursue the military option to weaken the LTTE fully. The abrogation of the Cease Fire Agreement (CFA) therefore is a turning point from a military and strategic point of view. There are divided opinions about the wisdom of abrogating the CFA. With or with out the CFA the war was never suspended and both the parties continued to violate the CFA at will to try and score military success in the chosen theatre. However with out the abrogation of the CFA Sri Lanka would not have been justified in laying sea mines in its own areas of operation. (Note that the land mines were laid even when the CFA was in force) The Sri Lankan military scored notable successes in all the medium of land, air and water thus weakening the LTTE. The successful targeting of LTTE leadership that resulted in the death of Mr Tamilchelvam and many other leaders has dealt a severe blow to both the capabilities and the intentions of the LTTE. However the abrogation of the CFA, which was signed in 2002, has paved the way for going all out in the maritime arena the control of which is so crucial for the LTTE. Mine warfare has been acknowledged in the annals of naval history as one of the most important methods of sea denial. Whether it is offensive or defensive or even psychological, it has the ability to achieve the objective due to the nature of devastating threat posed by mines. Even if the mines were not physically deployed, the notification or promulgation that mines have been laid would be enough to keep the areas clear of unwanted vessels. Such a ploy is always a considered option by naval commanders.

Underwater Defence Systems/Mining. Under water defence systems obviously is another nomenclature for mines of different description. During the height of cold war the underwater defence systems also included deep-sea moored sensors that could track submarines and other movements to be relayed to the receiving stations. Some of them were equipped to even release a homing torpedoes on the ICBM armed nuclear submarines that were proceeding to patrol stations. While the clay more mines over land has made it difficult for both the SL Forces and the LTTE over the land the use of sea mines now makes it very difficult for vessels to use areas which have been identified for sea denial and thus mined.

The modern mines come with many sensors that can trigger the explosive device onboard. It could be a contact mine which detonates on contact, or an acoustic mine that could be set to detonate on picking up of propeller or hull noise above or below a set threshold value. It could also be a pressure sensor that could sense the pressure of the water column over it as the target passes over it thus triggering the detonator and the consequent explosion. Even from the world war times, the ship count mechanism (SCM) has been effectively used to choose the target in a formation depending on its location and its likely sequence of passing over the minefield. At sea Mines are most devastating in terms of damage caused even to large ships.

LTTE Response. It would be interesting to see how the LTTE responds to the mining threat. With its suicide squads (black tigers) in place, even at the risk of losing some of its cadres, it may venture out to see what kind of vessels could be used in the areas with out activating the mines. With the shallow depths in the areas however, it would be difficult to find a vessel that can navigate in these waters safely. The LTTE has no mine clearance vessels as of now. The LTTE however would like to find some novel methods to clear the mines in areas that are crucial for landing of military stores.

The attempts by the LTTE to illegally cross over to Tamil Nadu for various illegal activities would also become that more difficult due to the mines in the waters through which the infiltrators are required to transit. The intense patrolling along the coastline by both the Navy and the Coast Guard has already rendered the task of illegal entry in the Tamil Nadu difficult.

Indian Response. Having been officially informed about the use of underwater defence systems, India is obliged to ensure the safety of its fishermen by not allowing them to cross the IMBL. Sri Lanka has every right to protect its waters and deny the illegitimate use of the seas by the LTTE. The LTTE has failed time and again in landing its war like material on shores controlled by it. The sinking of over a dozen Flags of Convenience ships owned by the LTTE by the Sri Lankan Navy at thousands of kilometres from its shore has dealt a severe blow to the capability in all the three medium. The squeeze applied by the International community has not helped the LTTE either.

There are no doubts that some of the political parties and sympathisers of the LTTE in India would protest the mining of the Sri Lankan waters. The Tamil Nadu fishermen and their lobby would likewise make a lot of noise on being denied the unlawful fishing in some one else’s waters. The only correct option for India is to ensure that mechanisms are put in place to prevent tragedies at sea due to exercising of obstinate intentions by our fishing community. The Navy, the Coast Guard and the Police have a tough task on hand to ensure that the situation does not go out of hand both on land and at sea. Measures required for weaning away our fishermen by providing alternate means of livelihood have been made in earlier quoted my earlier papers and thus are not being repeated.

According to some police sources it appeared that they were happy with the mining, as it would minimise the incursions by the LTTE cadres to TN through the sea routes.

The hawks on the Indian side would say that the abrogation of the CFA is being used by the Island nation to settle scores with the erring Indian fishermen who habitually cross over to the Sri Lankan waters using the excuse of preventing the LTTE from using the seas for clandestine activities. The fact of the matter is that Sri Lanka is entitled to exercise all its options including mining as allowed by the international conventions even if it is killing two birds with the same stone.

(Commodore R.S. Vasan IN Retd has a distinguished military service of over 34 years .His shore assignments include command of two naval air stations, maritime air squadron, Air Crew Examiner, member of the faculty at the College of Naval warfare and Chief Staff Officer of the Southern Naval Command at Kochin, India.)

* Appendix

* Excerpts Prepared by International Lawyers and Naval Experts convened by the International Institute of Humanitarian Law. Adopted in June 1994 taken from San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea. Only relevant sections 80 to 92 are quoted below .It may be noted that not all the provisions may be applicable in this case.

80. Mines may only be used for legitimate military purposes including the denial of sea areas to the enemy.

81. Without prejudice to the rules set out in paragraph 82, the parties to the conflict shall not lay mines unless effective neutralization occurs when they have become detached or control over them is otherwise lost.

82. It is forbidden to use free-floating mines unless:

(a) they are directed against a military objective; and

(b) they become harmless within an hour after loss of control over them.

83. The laying of armed mines or the arming of pre-laid mines must be notified unless the mines can only detonate against vessels, which are military objectives.

84. Belligerents shall record the locations where they have laid mines.

85. Mining operations in the internal waters, territorial sea or archipelagic waters of a belligerent State should provide, when the mining is first executed, for free exit of shipping of neutral States.

86. Mining of neutral waters by a belligerent is prohibited.

87. Mining shall not have the practical effect of preventing passage between neutral waters and international waters.

88. The mine laying States shall pay due regard to the legitimate uses of the high seas by, inter alia, providing safe alternative routes for shipping of neutral States.

89. Transit passage through international straits and passage through waters subject to the right of archipelagic sea-lanes passage shall not be impeded unless safe and convenient alternative routes are provided.

90. After the cessation of active hostilities, parties to the conflict shall do their utmost to remove or render harmless the mines they have laid, each party removing its own mines. With regard to mines laid in the territorial seas of the enemy, each party shall notify their position and shall proceed with the least possible delay to remove the mines in its territorial sea or otherwise render the territorial sea safe for navigation.

91. In addition to their obligations under paragraph 90, parties to the conflict shall endeavour to reach agreement, both among themselves and, where appropriate, with other States and with international organizations, on the provision of information and technical and material assistance, including in appropriate circumstances joint operations, necessary to remove minefields or otherwise render them harmless.

92. Neutral States do not commit an act inconsistent with the laws of neutrality by clearing mines laid in violation of international law.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Army advances ahead of Parappakandal

Fighting was reported along the Wanni defense lines for the past week where Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) fiercely resisted several SLA advances into their territory. Heaviest of these battles was reported in the general area of Parappakandal in Mannar district. After overrunning the LTTE frontline in this area one week ago, troops have been trying to move further into LTTE held territory towards Wanni heartland. Even though these attempts were met with heavy resistance, SLA was able to break through several LTTE defensive positions in this area after prolonged firefights. 5 soldiers have been killed in these battles and another 14 have been wounded. At least 15 LTTE cadres are confirmed to be killed and another 30 more are wounded. By yesterday, security forces had advanced as much as one kilometer into LTTE territory ahead of Parappakandal. Troops consolidating defenses in newly captured areas came under heavy LTTE artillery fire yesterday (09th) night. 6 soldiers were injured in this incident and were rushed to the hospital.

Pro LTTE media once again stated that the army offensive was "repulsed". This is completely false. Although there were occasions where the operations were temporarily halted due to heavy resistance, they were later resumed after regrouping and employing different strategies which best suited the situation. And it must be said that all these "offensives" are small group based attacks. So far there has not been any mass troop movement into Wanni.

Even though fighting has been going on for several months, both sides have not yet unleashed their full strength. LTTE has not largely exposed their hard core cadres to battle. According to military intelligence, their elite formations have not been seriously affected by the fighting and are largely intact. However it has been a different story for LTTE's mainstream units; they have undoubtedly suffered at the hands of the army. SLA too has several weapons they have still not used. Units of the Mechanized Infantry Division, which is the latest addition to the elite 53rd division, are yet to enter the battlefield. Newly raised 59th division is undergoing special training in the Weli-Oya sector. In addition to these, 3rd commando regiment too is now being retrained with long range surveillance (LRS) capabilities. In the meantime SLA has started yet another recruitment campaign; the first in year 2008. This time the goal is 15000 new recruits. If this goal is met, it would bring the army's total manpower close to 200000. Latest recruitment drive follows a a successful campaign last year (2007) in which more than 30000 personnel joined the army.

All above statistics point to one direction; heaviest battles of the 4th Eelam War are yet to be fought.

Fighting continues in Parappakandal

Heavy fighting was reported in areas ahead of Parappakandal for the third consecutive day where Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) launched a counterattack to regain lost territory in last week's battles. A group of SLA soldiers setting up defenses in newly captured areas came under an LTTE attack at around 1.30PM today (11th). The attack, which involved between 30-40 LTTE cadres, was successfully defended by the army. Two SLA personnel were killed and four more were injured in the incident while 8 LTTE cadres who took part in the counterattack have been killed.

LTTE has been repeatedly launching attacks on troops deployed in this area with the intention of recapturing lost ground. Although these operations have had little success in regaining territory, they have helped slow down (but not halt) the army advance into LTTE held territory in Mannar.

Advances, Assassinations and Beef-ups

Troops advancing ahead of the Forward Defence Line in North Mannar have captured an area of about one square kilometer north of Parappakandal. Around 10 LTTE cadres have been killed in this fight. The SLA is not keen on holding this ground and may maintain a light presence in the area. A counter attack launched by the LTTE using mortars was successfully repulsed with own artillery. Five soldiers were killed in the fight. The LTTE uses mainly mortar shells in this sector due to a shortage of ample artillery shells.

In a separate incident, Special Task Force Commados have killed an LTTE Military Wing Leader in Batticaloa at Eravur today. Police Commandos claim that the suspect, who was being trailed for sometime, had launched a grenade attack at troops lying in ambush prompting a counterfire killing the suspect on the spot. Commandos claim they recovered a Mico Pistol and a Handgrenade from his possession. The suspect was not wearing a suicide capsule or jacket at the time.

Meanwhile the Security Council which met today has decided to increase security to all MPs following the assassination of the Nation Building Minister D.M. Dassanayake yesterday. The Speaker and the Prime Minister have requested the Inspector General of Police to increase security to all MPs despite a contrary Gazette Notification issued several weeks ago. Several Tamil MPs had complained of a drastic reduction in their security, which may have resulted in the January 1st assassination of MP T. Maheswaran. However, Minister Dassanayake's assassination indicates that all MPs, regardless of their race or paygrade, have been equally affected by security lapses.