May 31, 2006

EU & LTTE - INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR

By B.Raman

On May 29, 2006, the European Union (EU) is reported to have added the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to the list of terrorist organisations maintained by it? What is the origin of this list and what is its significance?

After the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US by Al Qaeda, the EU decided in December,2001, to prepare and maintain an EU list of terrorist organisations and persons linked to terrorist activities and update it periodically. This list is prepared and updated periodically in accordance with the principles of the common position against terrorism adopted by the EU in 2001, 2003 and subsequently. The principles of the common position envisage the following action against organisations and individuals figuring in the list:

The freezing of funds and other financial assets or economic resources for the persons and entities specified;
Ensuring that funds, financial assets or economic resources or financial or other related services will not be made available, directly or indirectly, for the benefit of these persons, groups and entities; and
Police and judicial co-operation between Member States against these organisations and individuals.
2. When was this list last updated? How many organisations and individual as figure in it? Are there any terrorist organisations and individuals operating in India , which are included in the list?

The list was last updated on March 21, 2006. The updated list as notified in the journal of the EU on March 21 contains the names of 47 terrorist organisations and 45 individual terrorists. The following organisations from India figured in the list: The Babbar Khalsa, the Hizbul Mujahideen, the International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF) and the Khalistan Zindabad Force. None of the Pakistani jihadi terrorist organisations operating in India such as the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI), the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) figured in it. No names of terrorists operating in India figured in the list. Not even that of Dawood Ibrahim, who was declared by the US Treasury as an international terrorist in October, 2003.

3. What credibility does the list have in the eyes of professionals? How does it compare with the lists of Foreign Terrorist Organisations prepared by the US State Department every year?

It does not have the same credibility as the list of the US State Department. Often, one has the impression that names are added to or removed from the list for political and not professional reasons. One also has the impression that the approach to preparing the list is superficial. Apparent mistakes remain unnoticed and significant omissions or changes remain unexplained. Examples:

The names of Al Qaeda and of individuals associated with it such as Osama bin Laden, his No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri etc do not figure in the list. No explanations are forthcoming as to why.
The name of the Lashkar-e-Toiba figured in the list notified on March 16, 2005, but not in the list notified on March 21, 2006. No explanation has been given as to why it has been dropped.
The EU included Hamas in the list last year, but after Hamas did well in the elections, it reportedly recommended to the Belgian authorities that some of the elected legislators of Hamas should be given visas to visit the EU headquarters.
Some of the national lists are more comprehensive and have greater credibility than the EU list. For example, the list of organisations banned by the UK include the HUM and the JEM, which do not figure in the EU list.
How effective is the compliance of the member-countries of the EU in taking follow-up action?

The EU, as an entity, cannot take any follow-up action, which is left to the member-governments. They do so according to their own national interests. The British had banned the LTTE long before the EU, but have allowed Mr. Anton Balasingham, a close adviser of Prabhakaran, to continue to operate from the UK . They have not come in the way of the advocacy campaigns of the supporters of the LTTE in the local Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora. Denmark acts according to its own perception. Norway is not a member of the EU, but used to abide by the list prepared by the EU. On January 4, 2006, the Government of Norway made the following announcement: "Following an overall assessment, the Government has decided that Norway will no longer align itself with any other list than that published by the UN. The reason for this decision is that a continued alignment with the EU list could cause difficulties for Norway in its role as neutral facilitator in certain peace processes. Norway ’s role could become difficult if one of the parties involved was included on the EU list, and the opportunities for contact were thus restricted." This decision was apparently taken in view of the expected inclusion of the LTTE in the list.

What impact would the inclusion of the LTTE in the list have on its activities?

The impact in respect of funding would be marginal. The LTTE won't have bank accounts in its own name. Moreover, terrorist organisations do not use formal bank transfers for funding their acts of terrorism. So far as funding is concerned, front organisations of the LTTE operating under different names would face difficulty in collecting funds and despatching them to the LTTE through banking channels. But, individual Tamils should face no difficulty in sending money to the LTTE through hawala or couriers. The main difficulty the LTTE would face is in respect of travel to Europe by its identified activists, who may no longer get visas, and in its advocacy and publicity campaigns, if the member-governments try to stop its web sites and prosecute those supporting its cause. However, it is doubtful whether they would come in the way of its propagating its objectives and ideology. The LTTE could really face difficulties if the member-Governments use its inclusion in the list to put a stop to the activities of its commercial shipping fleet by seizing the ships and freezing the bank accounts of those running the ships.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India , New Delhi , and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: itschen36@gmail.com)

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