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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2395

LTTE funded U.S. Congressman's 2005 trip to Vanni in Sri Lanka: A sequel to Asian Tribune report

Daya Gamage- US National Correspondent for Asian Tribune

Washington, D.C. 24 August (Asian Tribune.com): United States Congressman Danny Davis’ trip to Sri Lanka from March 30 to April 5, 2005, spending most of his time in the regions of the Vanni and Kilinochchi Districts, controlled by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, was in fact funded by the Liberation Tigers, it was revealed by federal authorities, according to an August 23 datelined report in Chicago Tribune.Danny Davis,  Democratic Congressman from Illinois says that he was unaware that the Tamil Tigers paid for the trip and on his required congressional disclosure form has reported that the trip was paid for by a Hickory Hills, Illinois-based Tamil cultural organization, the Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America. Danny Davis, Democratic Congressman from Illinois says that he was unaware that the Tamil Tigers paid for the trip and on his required congressional disclosure form has reported that the trip was paid for by a Hickory Hills, Illinois-based Tamil cultural organization, the Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America.

The Democratic Congressman from Illinois says that he was unaware that the Tamil Tigers paid for the trip and on his required congressional disclosure form has reported that the trip was paid for by a Hickory Hills, Illinois-based Tamil cultural organization, the Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America.

According to the Chicago Tribune report Davis had believed that the trip was paid for by the Tamil federation, which in accordance with congressional ethics rules sent to him a written statement of travel expenses, more than US $7,000 each for Davis and his aide, Daniel Cantrell. Congressman Danny Davis said he knew that the group was "associated" with the Tamil Tigers but did not realize that the trip’s costs were covered with the funds controlled by the (Sri Lanka) rebel group.

Davis’ seven day trip to Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger territory came under scrutiny this week following the arrests of 11 supporters of the Tamil Tigers in New York on charges of participating in a broad conspiracy to support the terrorist group through money laundering, arms procurement and bribery of U.S. officials, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Asian Tribune on 15 April (2005) under the caption "Tamils Want Peace With Dignity and Justice, says U.S. Congressman who toured Sri Lanka" carried an exclusive interview in which this Online Daily said that the trip was organized by Tamil expatriates who have links to the Tamil Tiger outfit.

This week, the Asian Tribune report became the catalyst for one of the authors of the Chicago Tribune report Mike Dorning to scrutinize Congressman Davis’ exclusive visit to Sri Lanka’s Tiger territory.

Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam or popularly known as Tamil Tigers is a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization in the United States since 1997. The Tigers have been fighting the Government of Sri Lanka to win a separate independent state for the Tamil minority (12.5%) in this South Asian island-nation’s predominantly Tamil north and east districts since mid eighties. They accuse the government, which they say is largely controlled by the ethnic majority Sinhalese (74%), of discriminating against the Tamil minority which the government denies. A Norwegian-brokered ceasefire was signed between the two warring parties in 2002 but was mostly confined to the paper as Sri Lanka’s military stepped up its offensive against Tiger positions in early this month. The Sri Lanka government has repeatedly said that they were prepared to sit with the Tamil Tigers for a dialogue and that the government favors devolution of political and administrative powers to the periphery.

Congressman Danny Davis told last year’s Asian Tribune interview that a group of Sri Lankan expatriates wanted him to visit their country to examine how tsunami disaster funds are being disbursed as a substantial amount has been collected in his congressional district to which he agreed.

The Asian Tribune, in an editorial comment, said in the body of the April 15, 2005 interview with Davis that "it was a strategic move on the part of the LTTE to get a United States Congressman to tour the areas they hold for a political lecture while completely blocking the dissenting opinion reaching the American lawmaker."

The Congressman told this correspondent during the interview that he was aware he was visiting only the LTTE controlled areas in Sri Lanka. As to why he did not make any effort to meet non-LTTE officials or Sri Lanka Government officials, the Davis told Asian Tribune that it was not on his agenda.

Chicago Tribune report links Danny Davis to some of the activists of the Tamil Tigers who were taken into custody by the United States authorities on Monday allegedly conspiring to procure military hardware, surface-to-air missiles, AK 47s, communication equipment and attempt to bribe U.S. officials to remove LTTE from the State Department Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list.

Chicago Tribune says that "Congressman Davis past Saturday (19) talked in Chicago with a supporter of the Tamil Tigers who was among 11 people arrested on charges of conspiring to aid the rebel group through money laundering, procurement of arms, including surface-to air missiles and bribery of public officials."

"That Tamil Tiger supporter", says Chicago Tribune, "Murugesu Vinayagamoorthy, was described in a federal criminal complaint as a high-level operative who served as an intermediary between the Tigers’ leaders and foreign backers."

Davis said he first met Vinayagamoorthy, a 57-year-old London physician, at a Tamil cultural event in the Chicago suburbs at which both of them gave speeches "a few years ago." Vinayagamoorthy also participated in several of the meetings that Davis held while visiting Sri Lanka, the congressman said.

The criminal complaint against Vinayagamoorthy asserts that he had "direct and frequent contact" with leaders of the (Sri Lanka) rebel group and was "often dispatched" to facilitate Tamil Tiger projects around the world.

The Chicago Tribune continued to report in its August 23 edition that "without mentioning Davis or his aide by name, the complaint (before the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, New York) describes a series of transactions in which Vinayagamoorthy and others charged in the case allegedly laundered US $13,150 in Tamil Tiger funds at the direction of a top guerilla leader to pay for travel of "two individuals" to Tamil-controlled Sri Lanka."

"The two individuals were Davis and Cantrell, Law enforcement officials said," the Chicago Tribune says.

Another person arrested in the case, Nachimuthu Socrates, was listed as a director in 2004 of the Tamil cultural organization, the Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America, which Congressman Danny Davis listed in public disclosure forms (to Congress required by law) as trip’s sponsor.

Davis told the Chicago Tribune that he always assumed that the organization had a connection with the Tamil Tigers.

Congressman Danny Davis’ visit to Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger controlled areas prompted Asian Tribune to unleash a scathing criticism of the Sri Lanka Embassy in Washington in its analysis of 18 April (2005) captioned "Sri Lanka’s Foreign Public Diplomacy in U.S. in Jeopardy."

In that analysis the Asian Tribune said “Asian Tribune in its month-long monitoring found that Sri Lanka mission has absolutely no idea of LTTE front organization operations even much closer to its own location in the eastern states of the United States.

"If the Tiger activities are on the downward trend, according to (Sri Lanka deputy chief of mission in Washington) Mr. Bandara’s understanding, Asian Tribune is at a loss to know a Tiger front organization, which the Sri Lanka embassy has no interest to find out, strategically organized Congressman Davis’ tour to the Tiger land. In fact, a senior State Department official told this correspondent that the Tiger activists in Chicago gave the United States Congressman the impression that he was touring the tsunami disaster region in the eastern Sri Lanka but was tricked to enter Vanni, the Tiger stronghold."

Asian Tribune, in conclusion, said in that analysis "So, this then is the plight of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, with a foreign office that does not know what direction it is going and reducing its Washington, D.C. sub office merely to a visa issuance agency while intense lobbying is undertaken by front organizations of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam."

It is reported that a location in Hickory Hills, Illinois which has connections to the Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America was searched on Sunday in connection with the Tamil Tiger investigation.

As part of the investigation, F.B.I. agents searched the Cumberland, Maryland offices of a charity. The court papers filed at the U.S. District Court in New York identified it as a suspected front for a Tamil Tigers fund-raising organization.

Asian Tribune

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