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LTTE: Back to terrorism
August 13, 2005
In a recent article on international jihadi terrorism as personified by Al Qaeda, I had written: 'The world is back to 9/10' as a result of the international community's failure to act firmly against Pakistan's continued sponsorship of jihadi terrorism from its territory and against Pakistan's non-implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution No 1373 relating to action against terrorism.
Sri Lanka is back to 9/10 too. The cold-blooded assasination of Lakshman Kadirgamar, Sri Lanka's Tamil-speaking foreign minister, by as yet unidentified elements suspected to be from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam at Colombo on Friday, August 12, is yet another proof -- if further proof is still needed -- as to what happens when the international community mollycoddles terrorist organisations, whether of the jihadi or non-jihadi variety.
It was the international community's post-9/11 determination as demonstrated by the unanimous passage of the UN Security Council Resolution No 1373, which partly contributed to a change of tactics, if not mindset, on the part of the LTTE and thereby made it seek a cease-fire and agree to peace talks with the Sri Lankan government.
Even while ostensibly observing the cease-fire after boycotting the peace talks since April 2003, the LTTE gave many indications that it had not abandoned the use of terrorism for acheving its political objectives. It continued to recruit young persons -- many of them children -- for training purposes, clandestinely smuggle arms and ammunition and even microlite aircraft from abroad and strengthen its capability for acts of maritime terrorism with funds flowing from the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora in the West without any action being taken by the Western governments to stop the flow and freeze suspected
LTTE bank accounts under the UN Resolution.
The revolt in March 2004, by a large number of its members in the Eastern Province headed by 'Colonel' Karuna against the discriminatory policies of the leadership from the Northern Province against the Tamils of the Eastern Province, who were looked down upon by the Northern leadership as socially and culturally inferior, caused a setback to the LTTE's political and operational standing in the Eastern Province.
One would have expected the revolt of the Eastern Tamils to have had a sobering effect on the Northern leadership. It did not. On the contrary, the Northern leadership of the organisation let loose a campaign of deniable assassinations and other terrorist strikes not only against those, who had joined the Eastern revolt, but also against governmental and non-governmental personalities, who were suspected by the Northern leadership of acting in complicity with the revolting Eastern elements.
The revolt of the Eastern elements and the tsunami disaster of December 26, 2004, did damage the conventional fighting capability of the LTTE, but it did not affect its capability for terrorist strikes not only in the Tamil-speaking Northern and Eastern Provinces, but also in Colombo. It continued eliminating its suspected opponents one after the other, without coming under any pressure from the international community.
The international community not only failed to act against the LTTE for its continued acts of terrorism while ostensibly continuing to adhere to the cease-fire agreement, it gave even impressions of pampering a brutal terrorist organisation. Unwarranted gestures such as Chris Patten, then in charge of foreign affairs in the European Union set-up, calling on Prabhakaran in April 2004, the interactions of senior diplomats and other leaders of Western and Japanese governments with the LTTE leaders and the relutance of the Norwegian monitoring mission to take cognisance of the transgressions of the law
and the cease-fire agreement by the LTTE only encouraged the latter in its resumption of the use of terrorism to achieve its objective.
The unwise action of the international community in treating the elected Sri Lankan government and a notorious terrorist organisation on par in the matter of the disbursement and utilisation of the international reconstruction assistance for the Tamils affected by the tsunami conveyed to the LTTE a wrong message that the international community had no stomach to act against it.
The inevitable result: The brutal assassinatiion of Mr Kadirgamar on August 12. Unless the international community now sits up and makes the LTTE pay a heavy price for its continued use of terrorism, more blood is likely to flow in Sri Lanka. Such action has to come in the way of the arrest and deportation of all LTTE leaders and sympathisers operating from sanctuaries in the Western countries, freezing the suspected bank accounts of the LTTE and its supporters, and action to ground and seize the commercial ships of the LTTE and against the clandestine arms procurement infrastructure of the LTTE in South-East Asia and East Europe.