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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2701

US fails to connect existing LTTE global network to Tamil Diaspora 'activists'

By Daya Gamage - Asian Tribune Media Note
Washington, D.C. 02 May (Asiantribune.com):

The U.S. Department of State in its annual Country Report on Terrorism for 2013 - in its Sri Lanka section - issued Wednesday, admits that the LTTE’s financial network of support continued to operate throughout 2013 using its international contacts and the large Tamil Diaspora in North America, Europe, and Asia to procure weapons, communications, funding, and other needed supplies but failed to bring a parallel to the 'Global Diplomatic Campaign' unleashed by the visible professional activists within the Diaspora.

The United States further ignored that both these groups - the handlers of the LTTE's financial network and the 'visible' professional activists - were once closely associated with Sri Lanka's terrorist/separatist movement, the former being involved in the procurement of arms and fund-raising and the latter providing 'Material Support' in the form of advice, legal counseling and the advocacy of independent Tamil nation in Sri Lanka.

It is also true, which the United States chose to ignore, that both these groups heavily depend of the vast Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora in North America and Europe.

The State Department terrorism report states "The LTTE uses its international contacts and the large Tamil Diaspora in North America, Europe, and Asia to procure weapons, communications, funding, and other needed supplies. The group employed charities as fronts to collect and divert funds for their activities".

Neither the report nor the U.S. see the connection between the two groups; their shared long-term objective to bifurcate Sri Lanka.

"Despite its military defeat at the hands of the Sri Lankan government in 2009, the LTTE’s international network of sympathizers and financial support persists", the report reveals.

According to the landmark US Supreme Court decision in 2012 both these groups have violated federal laws providing 'Material Support' to a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) designated by the United States.

Country Reports on Terrorism 2013 Sri Lanka section the US State Department noted the following observations.

Overview: The Sri Lankan government defeated the terrorist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2009. Concerns remain that widely reported allegations of atrocities and violations of international law committed by both the government and the LTTE during the civil war have not been addressed. Partly as a result, counterterrorism cooperation and training with the United States was limited in 2013. No arrests related to terrorism were made, but the Government of Sri Lanka remained concerned that the LTTE’s international network of financial support was still functioning. The Sri Lankan government continued to maintain a strong military presence in post-conflict areas and continued to voice concern about the possible re-emergence of pro-LTTE sympathizers. Sri Lankan police did not participate in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program in 2013.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Counterterrorism legislation in Sri Lanka has historically focused on eliminating the LTTE. In 2013, the Government of Sri Lanka continued to implement the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), enacted in 1982 as a wartime measure, which gives security forces sweeping powers to search, arrest, and detain individuals. The government sometimes used the PTA to stifle dissent among political opponents or others critical of the government.

Although U.S. antiterrorism assistance to Sri Lanka has generally been limited, in 2013 the Sri Lankan government was a proactive partner with the U.S. Departments of State, Homeland Security, Defense, and Energy on securing its maritime border. The U.S. Coast Guard, under the Department of State’s Export Control and Related Border Security program, continued to train Sri Lankan Coast Guard and Navy personnel on border and export control matters, and the government of Sri Lanka continued to cooperate with U.S. Customs and Border Protection through the Container Security Initiative.

Border security remained a significant issue for the Sri Lankan Government in 2013. In 2013, the U.S. State Department trained 25 Sri Lankan immigration officials on fraudulent document recognition, while the International Organization for Migration (IOM) trained 40 immigration officers in techniques to improve border surveillance and combat human trafficking. IOM also continued to work with the Australian government to provide specialized training to Sri Lankan immigration personnel on profiling, identification of violators, and arrests and prosecutions, among other border control-related training.

Beginning in late 2012, the Sri Lankan government began partnering with the Canadian Counterterrorism Program on two border security related projects: the Interpol Database system, used to store and share profiling information in real time, and the Lost and Stolen Passport program, which addresses the large-scale border control issues the Sri Lankan government faces.

Also in 2013, the Sri Lankan government collaborated with the EU Immigration Department on the Advanced Passenger Information system, which transmits passenger information to Government of Sri Lanka immigration officials upon arrival. Collaboration with the Australian government has resulted in the development of a passport fingerprinting program scheduled to go online in 2014. The data generated from these collection systems will be significant assets to the Sri Lankan government in its efforts to control and combat illegal migration; however, the issue of maritime border security is one that needs additional action and must be considered within a regional context.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Sri Lanka belongs to the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and the Finance of Terrorism (EAG), a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. In June, the FATF welcomed Sri Lanka’s progress in improving its anti-money laundering/counterterrorist finance (AML/CFT) regime and removed the country from FATF’s monitoring process. Sri Lanka was, however, encouraged to continue the implementation of its procedures to identify and freeze terrorist assets.

While neither an important regional financial center nor a preferred center for money laundering, several factors make the country vulnerable to money laundering and terrorist finance. These include a lack of transparent tender mechanisms in government projects, past experience with terrorism, tax evasion, and a large informal economy. Legal remittance flows through the formal banking system have increased sharply in recent years. Remittances originate primarily from Sri Lanka’s substantial overseas workforce.

Before its defeat in 2009, the LTTE had used a number of non-profit organizations for fundraising purposes. Sri Lanka continued its efforts to search for other financial links to the LTTE, even many years after the war ended. There were criticisms that this search for terrorists was extended well beyond its utility and expanded to target legitimate political opponents of the government.

Regional and International Cooperation: In November, the Sri Lankan government held the Galle Dialogue, which featured multilateral discussion by international security force representatives on issues of regional security in South Asia. Issues covered during the conference included maritime terrorism and the trafficking of narcotics, weapons, and people.

Asian Tribune Note

The US State Department has touched the surface of the terrorism issues facing Sri Lanka, defeated domestically but well revived since May 2009. Among the 16 pro-separatist groups operating globally, some are covertly continued to manage the vast international financial network beyond the reach of Sri Lanka. These groups have transformed themselves to disrupt or undermine the reconciliation efforts undertaken by the Sri Lankan authority to facilitate the 'visible' professional activists who have launched a 'Global Diplomatic Offensive' against Sri Lanka threatening its sovereignty and territorial integrity with a long-term agenda of bifurcating this South Asian nation, a dream the Tamil Tiger leader Prabhaharan and its lethal organization envisaged for Sri Lanka.

Bothe these groups associated with Prabhaharan's agenda to establish a separate independent and sovereign Tamil state in the north and east region of Sri Lanka.

The sixteen groups declared by Sri Lanka recently as global terrorist groups are in fact in collaboration with the 'visible' professional activists within the Tamil Diaspora. The professionals have become the sole spokespersons for the Tamil Diaspora and the Tamil minority living in Sri Lanka, and the US State Department's maneuvering and strategy to bring Sri Lanka to the 'Geneva Dock' has facilitated that effort.

The 'Material Support' that the 'visible' professional activists within the Tamil Diaspora gave a designated foreign terrorist organization (FTO) during the 26-year mayhem have escaped the minds of the policymakers and lawmakers in North America and Europe to collaborate with them in the current Sri Lanka issue that has reached the portals of the UNHRC in Geneva.

The just-released Terrorism Report of the US State Department connects financial and other networks of the LTTE rump, the Diaspora but does not endeavor to deeply probe the connections of these two 'sectors' of the Tamil Tigers whose main long-term projection is to bifurcate Sri Lanka.

And the United States has become a partner to this 'grand design', knowingly or unknowingly.

- Asian Tribune -

US fails to connect existing LTTE global network to Tamil Diaspora 'activists'
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