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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2906

Memoirs of an anti-LTTE undercover agent in London - PART III: "Is there a D-Notice on us?"

By - By Glen Jenvey - Exclusive to "Asian Tribune"
Edited By – Joseph Thavaraja

I decided that I should exercise 'more vigilance'… When meeting my 'SIS boss' at the SL High Commission and even when boarding the train to London!

Armed with videos, books, press briefings and full recordings of every speaker, I returned from the conference, ready to brief my bosses of the day's events.

Once, members of the rebels were involved in one of the biggest robberies on a jeweler-shop in London. The police could not prove it. The Tigers were aware that many of their activities eluded the British Police anyway….In addition, the LTTE developed good relations with the British cops--In fact, every now and then, a local police officer used to pop into the LTTE offices for a social visit -and a warm cup of tea …

LTTE accepted donations directly from the public. I remember seeing various young men come in and leave the LTTE offices. They would hand in wads of cash notes to the office-head; Generally, the money was the "collection-money", fleeced from the Tamil community of London using threats or intimidation…However, at times it went beyond this limit.. Piles of cash notes…the transaction looked fishy as well- tending to be a bit 'criminal' rather…

I realized that they were the highly rumored "drug money" being handed in to the office…For sometime, there had been unconfirmed rumors of major drug deals taking part inside their offices. It was one of these money transactions that I had stumbled across…

One front the rebels were winning was their propaganda front. With their massive PR machine and cash supply, British reporters would be invited out for dinner functions. The goal was to try and get good press while also highlighting the horror stories against the GOSL.

The BBC was one such media in which a member of the World Service was also an active member of the LTTE's London inner circle.

Now I had daily access to every major British newspaper. I began hatching a plan to slow the LTTE PR machine down. My goal was to get less and less stories across to the British press which seemed to be in love with this outfit so much.

Any newspaper that did not carry the LTTE press report would get a phone call protesting in the rudest manner saying that 'they are taking sides'. The paper would then ask if they received a "D Notice" on reporting.

A "D Notice" -a "Defense Notice"- is an alert given by British intelligence services or the armed forces to the media. It alerts them of sensitive content that could damage British national security / defense if reported. In London, the system is somewhat voluntary. Various media corporations are not obliged to report back about potentially sensitive issues. In practice, what happens is that the government minister calls the newspaper and the paper stops publication of the news-report.

I would call up the reporters, and with a rudest tone, would blurt: "Is there a D-Notice on our X-day's or Y-day's press release?" Of course, the reporters would not complain of my rude call to their editor, who is usually busy with his own schedules.

But, the tone of the call would not go amiss with the reporters, and thereafter, they began thinking twice before they published the subsequent LTTE press releases…When invites were sent using LTTE official press statements it was mentioned that it's not safe for British reporters to travel to Sri Lanka –especially if they do not contact me first!

The press gradually stopped printing the rebel-love stories.

At that time, no one but I myself knew what caused to change their minds.

However, my SIS boss at Sri Lanka High Commission went up the wall- literally: "Even if your methods worked, I can't approve of what you did, really. Imagine one day I am being linked to the threatening press statements and rude calls!" he bellowed.

"Don't worry…It was really printed on LTTE letter-headed papers" I replied, and watched him sulking more...

Embassies were on my list of contacts. There were two reasons for the embassies to receive press statements. To monitor the rebel group and –strange as it may be- as 'learning material'. A lot could be learnt monitoring their daily press statements (at times the London office alone released up to three write-ups a day).

I was also in contact with the LTTE Paris office -France being the country where the LTTE had its own Bank! If I recollect, it was called the Bank of Eelam (or something like that).

I was asked to find a way to track the LTTE's bank accounts in London. This was achieved using a simple method---It involved donating some funds through a cheque; when you write out a cheque to someone in UK, the cheque is banked and cashed in their account, but what many Britishers do not know is that the cheque, once cashed, goes back to your branch and is stored for some time.

Stamped on this cheque are the branch details of the person who cashed the cheque –and sometimes, even the account number of the encasher.

So a test cheque for a small amount was sent - and the SIS in SL High Commission got the banking details they needed (Of course, there's another method as well which shall not be divulged here).

The rebel press machine spat out press statements with details of the latest casualties –the higher the figure the better the day was. I wondered if the Paris office' LTTE statements were the same and began receiving their statements as well. The London office noticed my enthusiasm and a few weeks later, I was asked to go to Paris to meet some heads of the LTTE. And the date for my visit was set.

But, the visit was suddenly called off at the last minute for some 'unknown reason'.

It was only when I saw the breaking news that I knew why.

"Suspected LTTE gunmen shot and killed Kandiah Perinbanathan, the LTTE's international treasurer, and his companion Kajan, Editor of LTTE’s Tamil language weekly Eelamurasu, in Paris on 26 October 1996. Sri Lankan authorities said the treasurer may have been killed for extorting funds from his assailants…" the newscast went on.

Two LTTE bosses who had been shot at the Paris metro were involved in a dispute with the outfit. It looked to me that it was a hit to take over Paris funds.

Once, I asked my foreign office in the UK (name withheld) as to why the rebels were not banned and allowed in the UK. The reply startled me.

"As long as the LTTE did not attack British interests, they are free to stay in the UK".

I felt that this was not a sound policy to base British internal affairs -Sri Lanka would never support the IRA this way, for instance (The IRA were guest speakers at an LTTE conference in Paris a year before). The laid-back policy towards terrorist groups in the UK was making it a breeding ground for such groups from all around the world. In my opinion, the west is merely playing catch up when it comes to terrorism. The best way to find out real intelligence over the long term is to live among the terrorists.

Speak to the terrorists, act like a supporter and make friends with them until they accept you as one of theirs. Of course, every spy needed a spy-master to meet regularly and de-brief… and to have someone to direct them and especially keep them 'sane' working on the ground with a rebel outfit. For their part in the operations, all my bosses were later given senior appointments.

High Profile Sri Lanka Leaders

When high profile Sri Lankan leaders were in London I was asked to find out if there was a threat -if any- from the LTTE.

Obviously, I could not ask the Tigers before the news were carried since the rebels would ask me how I came to know about it.

Once, Chandrika Bandranaike, Sri Lanka’s President was to visit a London Hospital. As usual, the British police were in charge of her protection (The British police usually did not have any clue in these matters --nor they were sufficiently trusted to be provided with my identity …). The British police would ask my SIS boss to find out through me if the rebels had any 'interests' in her visit … I needed to time this 'right' –I usually learnt about the visits in advance from SL High Commission bosses. As soon as the news broke then I would ring the Tigers and verify if they intended to attack the politico in London.

The rebels usually would not venture to the extent of taking out Sri Lankan leaders on British shores.

Thereafter, I was to be routinely asked by the British police to channel loads of similar information to them -via my SL High Commission boss. The experience I gathered in this way (with LTTE as its own case-study) would later prepare me to take on a much bigger role: To take on the London based Radical Islamic Terror Groups.

(To be continued)

- Asian Tribune -

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