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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2961

"LTTE stole 130,000 Norwegian Passports and sold some of them to Al Qaeda" - Sri Lankan Ambassador to Washington Post Radio

By Walter Jayawardhana

Washington DC, 18 May, ( Bernard Goonetileke, the Sri Lankan Ambassador in Washington DC interviewed by the Washington Post Radio Thursday said the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) operatives have stolen 130,00 Norwegian passports and sold them to the highest bidders including the terrorists of Al Qaeda.Bernard Goonetileke said that the LTTE had employed a corrupt police officer to steal the passports for them and when it sold the passports they also sold them to an Al Qaeda group in Algeria. Bernard Goonetileke said that the LTTE had employed a corrupt police officer to steal the passports for them and when it sold the passports they also sold them to an Al Qaeda group in Algeria.

“One of them surfaced with 700 of the stolen passports in Thailand and got caught to the police,” the Ambassador told J.J. Green, the National Security Affairs Correspondent of the Washington Post Radio.

Green said due to the easy access of European Union citizens to the United States this could make a real risk for even this country.

The Radio Station introduced the LTTE as the assassins of the former Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi and friends of the Al Qaeda terrorists of the Middle Eastern notoriety.

Goonetileke said that the LTTE had employed a corrupt police officer to steal the passports for them and when it sold the passports they also sold them to an Al Qaeda group in Algeria.

The Sri Lankan ambassador said the LTTE was banned in India in 1991 and the second country they were banned was the United States in 1997, about a decade ago. He said when these countries banned them they simply did it because they realized that the Tamil Tigers behavior was really dangerous to the world. He said the proscription of the group was thereafter followed by Canada and the 27 member European Union.

Answering Green Goonetileke reminded the grave terrorist acts they committed included the assassination of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of India and said the pioneering acts of terrorism the LTTE gave to the world of terror included the devastating C-4 explosives laden suicide jackets currently used by the Middle Eastern terrorists. The Sri Lankan ambassador said after the USS Cole was blasted the Sea Tigers head Susai had boasted that it was their suicide boat method the Middle Eastern terrorists had copied. In fact, Goonetileke said the LTTE had done similar acts by blasting a Sri lanka Navy vessel carrying sailors and in blasting a Chinese fishing vessel in 2000. Their latest pioneering act of terrorism is to fly low flying aircraft and bomb places, the ambassador said.
Green: How did they manage to do that?

Goonetileke: It is nothing amazing. Once a small Cessna was flown by a German youth to the Red Square in Moscow with all its security and radar.

Green: How do they manage to buy all these aircraft and other weapons?

Goonetileke: If you have the resources there is no shortages of planes and weapons in the black market.

The Sri Lankan ambassador during the 30 minute interview said there were 800,000 estimated Sri Lankan Tamils spread in North America, Australia and Europe. He said money is being bilked from them using sophisticated methods of extortion. He said the terrorist group has forcibly taken over places of worship like Hindu temples to steal money given for charity. Goonetileke said narcotic sales, credit cards frauds of large scale, and owning businesses and shipping lines are some other methods they used to earn money. He said they maintained bank accounts like those of the Bhumiputra Bank of Malaysia to siphon money.

He said it was true the LTTE signed a Ceasefire Agreement in 2002 but soon after the agreement was signed they started showing the insincerity by killing Tamil opponents and continuing with child abductions and assassinating some members of the security forces. They started sitting down for negotiations and thereafter left the negotiating table showing that they would never be satisfied with anything else other than a separate state.

He said they kept on raising funds using front organization because of the proscriptions in the Western countries. He said when the pseudo charity called Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) was discovered by the Commissioner of Charity in UK they restarted it under the name White Pigeon. When White Pigeon was caught they transferred 500,000 sterling pounds to another one called International Tamil Rehabilitation Organization(ITRO). Then they were transferred to World Tamil Movement. He said it was always a name game to siphon off charity money for terror.

Goonetileke admitted that that Sri Lanka government and the US government exchange information about the terrorist organizations.

Goonetileke said mainly two teams related to the LTTE have already got caught trying to buy weapons and influence in the US and one team has already pleaded guilty. In those sting operations one LTTE team offered one million dollars as bribes to US officials, hoping to get the ban on the group lifted, as one of the expectations.

In the attempt to buy surface to air missiles and other military equipment to down airplanes 70,000 dollars exchanged hands as initial payments to undercover agents. Those figures would indicate, Goonetileke said, the kind of money the terrorist group was able to spend.

Answering questions the ambassador said due to the focus was mainly on Islamic terrorists the resources may have been limited in the past to catch the LTTE in the US. But he said he hoped the government would use resources as much as possible to bring them to books since it was one sure way of quelling the terrorism back at home.

- Asian Tribune -

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