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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2675

Are Terrorists clinically sick? If so, what about their sponsors?

By Raj Gonsalkorale

In a recent TV interview, the famed novelist Fredrick Forsyth referred to the international terrorist movement as having "clinically sick" individuals attempting to destroy the fabric of world order as it is known today, by means that others cannot employ, either in attack or defense. He was of course referring to the international terrorist movement Al Qaeda, ideologically, and in some instances, sponsored, and led by Osama bin Laden. This group, as has been evident so far, been focused on killing Americans and their allies, although other groups encouraged by the methods employed by Al Qaeda, and perhaps in instances funded by them, have engaged in similar atrocities.

The world of the terrorist is too complex to understand and reason out by non terrorists and increasingly, they appear increasingly disinterested whether anyone understood them or not. Forsyth’s comment becomes all the more valid in the circumstances, as such clinically sick people are operating in a world of their own quite distinct to the one that others live in, neither side being able to understand each others worlds. Despite many challenges posed on the world most people know of, and expenditure on armaments exceeding 1000 billion US dollars annually (15 times more than what is spent on humanitarian development assistance) to defend it against terrorists, conventional armed enemies and other seen and unseen threats, there is still some order and decency in many parts of that world.

The same however cannot be said of the theatres of war in the “other side” of the world that is inhabited by Forsyth’s clinically sick. At least if they had as their ideology, the reduction of this huge amount spent on arms and the diversion of some of that money towards lifting the plight of millions of starving human beings in Africa, or the HIV/AIDS afflicted people or other multitudes of human beings living in misery in various parts of the world, they would have had more sympathy for their cause, certainly not their methods, although the means to their ends would have been understood in some context.

Sri Lanka also has its share of terrorism at the hand of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam, the LTTE. While none of their brutal acts can be condoned, their employment of such atrocious methods as a means to an end, which is the creation of a separate State within a State, has always been known and well advertised and has been the ideological driver to garner the support of many Tamils towards that end.

Needless to say, the Sinhalese and perhaps to the surprise of the LTTE, the Muslims, do not share the LTTE view of this end, and would not allow the creation of a separate State in the North and East of Sri Lanka, resulting in the stalemate that has been going on for many years. Beyond or alongside that end has been the reason for that end, the “Tamil cause”. The LTTE terrorist movement in this sense cannot be compared with the clinically sick movement described by Forsyth, as there is a well publicized cause that is being fought for, however questionable that cause is and however questionable the real agenda of the LTTE is.

One has to wonder though how some of the atrocities committed by the LTTE could have been planned and carried out by people other than the clinically sick, when they have and still do, use children to fight their wars, use suicide bombers to kill and maim innocent people, and carry out indiscriminate killings of not only innocent Sinhalese and Muslims, but their own Tamil people. In this context, it is hard to distinguish who is more clinically sick, whether it is the Al Qaeda or the LTTE, or whether they are all clinically sick.

Terrorist organizations cannot function by themselves. None of them would be able to function without sponsors and large amounts of money. Both Al Qaeda and the LTTE are well funded by their backers and it is hard to imagine that these backers are not aware of the methods employed by both groups, and therefore complicit in the wanton destruction of life and property, and the misery that results as a consequence. One is entitled to ask therefore whether sponsors of terrorist movements are equally clinically sick as the terrorists themselves. In the case of Al Qaeda, it is reportedly funded by Osama bin Laden own wealth while in the case of the LTTE, it is funded by the Tamil Diaspora. Are all these people clinically sick?

This article is focusing on what the Tamil Diaspora, the primary sponsor of the LTTE and those who are currently funding the LTTE, either willingly or unwillingly, could do instead, to genuinely uplift the plight of the Tamils living in the North and the East by investing in the economic development of those areas and engaging in democratic political activities and challenging the LTTE to permit them to do so. This is of course if sections of the Tamil Diaspora wishes to be of genuine help and not take the easy way out by parting with some money to the LTTE to keep the fans of conflict going for their own benefit. Many international observers have noted that the Tamil cause has become a self serving industry in some countries and that its momentum, maintenance and growth would be lost if the “cause” no longer exists.

In previous articles, the writer has argued that the world has changed from the days when reasons for the Tamil "cause" may have had greater validity than today, and that the international spotlight on Sri Lanka would make it quite impossible for Sri Lankan politicians to ignore there is a Tamil "cause", whatever its real magnitude is, that needs to be recognized and addressed. It has also been argued that Federalism, even if it extends to the entire country or Asymmetrical devolution, is not an answer to this conflict and that a resolution has to be centrally driven and must address all Tamils, not just the ones in the North and the East of the country.

If one were to believe the propaganda of the LTTE and their sponsors that LTTE terrorism is freedom fighting and not terrorism, one is entitled to ask the question, freedom for who, and freedom from what. Following on, Tamils living in areas “liberated” from the Sinhalese by the LTTE should be asked whether they are more free today than they were before being liberated by the LTTE and whether democracy and a universally accepted law and order system prevails for them in those areas. Independent reports on the situation in such areas point to the contrary, and that people living in those areas are held by force and live in fear of their lives and of the future of their children who are conscripted to join the LTTE terror groups (as has been widely accepted now as a fact as a result of UN Agency findings). Tamils, both the Diaspora as well as those living in other parts of Sri Lanka should then ask themselves whether they wish the Tamil community in general to be "liberated" from the Sinhalese by the LTTE and face a similar consequence.

The second question of freedom from what, has a relevancy to the contemporary situation faced by Tamils in Sri Lanka and whether they are any less equal to other communities in the country in respect of opportunities to education, jobs, religious and cultural freedom and language. The writer has argued that there are some areas where the Sinhalese Buddhists have been treated as the first amongst the equals and that all references to such a distinction have to be removed if all communities are to be treated as equals.

It has also been argued that the country has come a long way since the armed conflict began in the late seventies/early eighties, and that many issues that may have been considered as shackles for the Tamils at the time, are no longer so.

In the circumstances, what should the LTTE and the Diaspora that is sponsoring them do, if one is to distinguish them from other clinically sick terrorists?

Firstly, it may have to be recognized that it will be futile to expect the LTTE to change their ways unless they are forced to do so by others. While the international community certainly has some sway in regards the behavior of the LTTE, it is the Tamil Diaspora that could without doubt change the direction of the ethnic conflict by forcing the LTTE to give up their violence and change to a political organization by not providing them funds unless they give up violence. As a political organization, they could engage in many legal (within the current framework of the Sri Lankan constitution), and democratic activities that they are unable to engage in as an armed terrorist organization. If the vast amounts of funds that are provided by the Tamil Diaspora to arm the LTTE could be diverted to economic activity in the North and the East, the LTTE could become a strong political organization that could negotiate a far better and sustainable peace deal that they could as a terrorist organization.

The current Sri Lankan constitution, despite its many faults, has given main stream, centre stage political power to minority groups, amongst the Sinhalese, the Tamils as well as the Muslims. Political parties like the JVP, the JHU, CWC, the SLMC and others, would not have enjoyed the power and the prominence they have today under the previous constitution. Although this system and the outcomes it produces at elections makes it very difficult for either of the major political parties, the SLFP or the UNP to form a stable government by themselves, it has made it possible for minor parties to extricate concessions democratically in exchange for their support. One only needs to extend their imagination to see the concessions that the LTTE mouth piece, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) could have secured for all Tamils, not just those in the North and East, if only the LTTE allowed them to negotiate with the current government. These are some of the evolutionary political developments in the country that the LTTE and the Tamil Diaspora does not wish many Tamils to know, let alone the unsuspecting international community, who still think that the Tamils in the North and the East of Sri Lanka are living in the dark ages due to Sinhala domination.

As the writer has argued before, a genuine political solution for all Tamils, irrespective of where they live and whether they are of recent South Indian origin or whether they are Hindus or Brahmins, or whether they came to Sri Lanka over 1000 years ago, has to be found at the centre and not at the periphery where a minority of Tamils live. Countrywide Federalism is an answer to provide better political representation and services to people and it is not an answer to the ethnic conflict as it will create different classes of Tamils in different parts of the country by introducing Federalism to the North and the East, or Asymmetrical devolution to that area.

The solution has to come from within the Tamil community, particularly, from the Diaspora that sponsors and funds the LTTE.

They must look genuinely at the contemporary situation in Sri Lanka today and seek a solution that addresses whatever remnant discriminatory acts arising due to the ethnicity of their community. They must consider such issues from a national perspective and not a regional one. They must feel the pain of killing their own people, and innocent Sinhalese and Muslims, and above all, they must feel the pain of conscripting innocent Tamil children in the North and East of Sri Lanka to fight a war for them and die for them, when their own children are at a very comfortable and safe distance, given the best education, all of life’s comforts that have been denied to the children who are forced to join the LTTE terror groups including their suicide squads. If the Tamil Diaspora does not end this bigotry and double standards, their hands will be equally bloodied as those of the LTTE terrorists, and one could not be faulted for asking whether they are as clinically sick as the terrorists that Forsyth referred to.

- Asian Tribune -

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