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US crackdown on terrorists and Norway’s mollycoddling of Tigers

In 1997, the LTTE was designated by the U.S. State Department as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and, therefore, may not legally raise money or procure specified equipment or materials in the United States. The complaints however allege that the defendants’ conspiracy to provide material support to LTTE included fund raising in the United States and Canada, relying on "front" charitable organizations to give the fund raising the appearance of legitimacy. These organizations were also used to send goods and material to LTTE in Sri Lanka. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales had stressed that the multi-faceted scheme by members and supporters of the Sri Lankan organization known as the Tamil Tigers demonstrates the need for ‘continued vigilance’ in the global war against terrorists.

Political Panorama

By Shakuntala Perera
  Till September 11, 2001 Sri Lanka had a lone and futile fight against terror. Sri Lanka had suffered the evils of terror for 18 long years before US President Bush first ‘saw evil, the very worst of human nature’. When he proclaimed that ‘terrorists will remember September the 11th as the day their reckoning began’, Sri Lanka sighed in relief. Finally there was understanding.

‘Many nations and many families have lived in the shadow of terrorism for decades, and during years of mindless and merciless killing. September the 11th was not the beginning of global terror, but it was the beginning of the world’s concerted response,’ he said.

In an address to the nation hours after the attack on the Twin Towers, Bush said the ‘search is underway for those who are behind these evil acts.

“I’ve directed the full resources of our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible and to bring them to justice. We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them”, he said. And he didn’t.

The arrest of eleven LTTE operatives for ‘multiple crimes’, including conspiracy to provide material support and resources to the ‘designated foreign terrorist organization LTTE’, in the US early this week are all results of such action.
Four of the defendants were arrested on Long Island, N.Y., on Aug. 19, 2006, after three of them traveled to New York from Canada to attempt to purchase from an agent acting in undercover capacity Russian-made SA-18 surface-to-air missiles, missile launchers, AK-47s and other weapons to be used by the LTTE. They were directly in touch with the LTTE leadership according to the US Department of Justice.

In the second complaint, multiple defendants are charged with providing material support to the LTTE that included the procurement of military equipment and dual use technology, fund raising and money laundering through "front" charitable organizations and U.S. bank accounts. The complaint also charges that the defendants attempted to obtain classified information, conspired to bribe U.S. public officials in an effort to remove the LTTE from the U.S. State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, and dealt in illegal financial transactions with LTTE.

In 1997, the LTTE was designated by the U.S. State Department as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and, therefore, may not legally raise money or procure specified equipment or materials in the United States.

The complaints however allege that the defendants’ conspiracy to provide material support to LTTE included fund raising in the United States and Canada, relying on "front" charitable organizations to give the fund raising the appearance of legitimacy. These organizations were also used to send goods and material to LTTE in Sri Lanka.

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales had stressed that the multi-faceted scheme by members and supporters of the Sri Lankan organization known as the Tamil Tigers demonstrates the need for ‘continued vigilance’ in the global war against terrorists.

"These defendants allegedly sought to obtain, through a variety of means, weapons and materials to carry out a deadly campaign of violence. We will use every tool in our power to disrupt the activities of those who seek to harm others, both here and abroad," he added.

It was also revealed that US Congressman Danny Davis and an aide took a trip to Sri Lanka last year funded entirely by the LTTE. His one week stay has come under scrutiny by the defense authorities as the arrests were being made. He had denied knowledge that the LTTE paid for his trip. In fact he has said in a required congressional disclosure form that the trip was paid for by an Illinois based Tamil cultural organization, the Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America.

The arrests and revelations came barely days after US Principle Deputy Assistant Secretary South and Central Asian Affairs, Ambassador Steven Mann ended a two day visit to Sri Lanka. He had clear messages to both the government and the LTTE. His word that the ‘spot light’ was on the LTTE was no doubt, ominous.

“There are two sides to the fighting. The LTTE has a direct, clear, immediate responsibility to cease hostilities, “he said.

He stressed that the ban against the LTTE will ‘remain in effect as long as the LTTE espouses terrorist methods and uses them to advance its cause.

Mann was very specific with his words; “Make no mistake here. The US view on the LTTE has been a long due public record. We have been very consistent in that. But we don’t want the US role limited to saying if we are fighting it worldwide why aren’t we doing it here in Sri Lanka,” he said. The arrest clearly indicated that their work was not limited to the rest of the world.

According to Colombo based diplomatic sources, the US visit was a warning that the LTTE ‘clearly ignored.

“The LTTE is making far too many mistakes. It’s failing to decipher some of the global messages. They are fast failing to take chances given to come back to negotiations. These are not mature moves,” he added.

Mann did not play with his words either; “The LTTE has brought that on its’ self. Let’s keep that focus where it belongs. The US has long designated the LTTE as an international terrorist organization. We have a very clear view on that. It is listed as such,” he said.

Diplomatic sources maintain that this was clear message to any European countries that may be having ‘jitters’ about the ban. “The US will not change the ban. The LTTE has not given reason to do so. In fact their responses have been clearly to the contrary,” it was said.

Mann sounded impressed with the responses of the government and President Rajapaksa. Except, when he believed that the government must look seriously at legitimate concerns of the Tamil people.

The timing of the US arrests also had purpose. The US actions came in the wake of a crucial European Union meeting in Brussels last afternoon. The meeting of EU Foreign Ministers is strongly expected to deal with the Sri Lankan situation among other key global concerns. Among other areas of discussions is aid to the United Nations peace keeping efforts in Lebanon.

Strong Norwegian led campaigning against the ban on the LTTE will be the highlight of discussion. Outgoing Swedish Head of the Sri Lankan truce monitors, Ulf Henriccson, criticized the EU ban claiming it ‘a mistake’

“It was a wrong decision because… the LTTE and the government have signed the ceasefire agreement as equal partners."

"If one is suddenly on a terrorist list it’s not very difficult to see we’re going to run into difficulties, which we have done," he was quoted by AFP.

Henriccson was angry with the EU for having ‘ignored’ a memo he sent when the ban was initially under consideration. HE claims that the ban meant the Sri Lankan government thought it had "carte blanche" to take on the Tigers.

"I think the EU thought that the government of Sri Lanka was a responsible government, who could take the appropriate decision and work for peace instead of war," he said. He is reportedly "more convinced than other" that there would be no military solution to the Sri Lankan crisis.

Diplomatic sources questioned the rationale for the thinking and the basis for the non-bias nature the monitors were expected to have. IN fact the SLMM Head told this columnist last week that ‘no military victory was possible.

“Why should it? It had gone on for 25 years. Why should we have a military solution today? I don’t believe in it,” he said. In fact he was waiting for ‘them’ to get stuck.

“My opinion is that they will because there is no military solution,” he added.

Throughout the interview he refused to accept that the government was engaging in defensive action against those perpetrated by the LTTE. He insisted on the government offensive to release the Mawil Aru dam as the starting point of the intensification of the war. Asked if the attempts on the Army Commander and killing the third in command in the army were not serious CFA violations leading to military responses from the government troops he said;

“Yes, but it depends on where you start the series. You can even go back to 1948 to find the reason for this conflict. But we can’t change what has happened, but you can the future,” he said instead.

But the fact remains that the future of terrorism in Sri Lanka may largely depend on the actions of facilitators like Norway, which has throughout used its role to deny successive Sri Lankan governments its right to protect its sovereignty. In a sense terrorists remain and gather courage from anti-government actions like those of Norway. And that may be a bigger threat to the country than what even the LTTE may pose.

Via… Daily Mirror

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August 26, 2006 - Posted by | Media Journalism, News and politics, South Asia, World News

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