March 04, 2009

HUM RE-PAYS AN OLD DEBT TO LTTE IN LAHORE?

B.RAMAN

Six players of the Sri Lankan cricket team, which had arrived on a visit to Pakistan, are reported to have been injured and four policemen killed when 10 or more persons wielding hand-held weapons, including hand-grenades, attacked a bus in which the team was going to the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on the morning of March 3,2009. The attack has been recorded on closed circuit TV and should enable the Pakistani authorities to identify the terrorists and the organisation to which they belong. The Sri Lankan Government is reported to have advised the team to cancel the visit and return to Sri Lanka.

2. While it is too early to assess as to who might have been responsible for the attack and why, one has to recall past instances of contacts of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) with the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM---known before 1997 as the Harkat-ul-Ansar), a member of the International Islamic Front (IIF) of Al Qaeda and the role played by the commercial ships of the LTTE in the 1990s in facilitating heroin smugglimg from the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.

3. In 1993, the Indian Coast Guard had intercepted an LTTE ship in which Kittu, a leader of the LTTE, was travelling from Karachi to the Wanni region of Northern Sri Lanka. When cornered by the Coast Guard, the LTTE cadres on board the ship set fire to it and it sank. Kittu chose to go down with the ship in order to avoid falling into the hands of the Coast Guard. Some members of the crew jumped from the sinking ship and were arrested and interrogated. The subsequent investigation brought out that the ship was carrying a consignment of arms and ammunition, which was loaded by the HUM cadres at Karachi, in the presence of some officers of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Navy.

4. Reports received in 1994-95 had indicated that the LTTE had helped the HUM in smuggling arms and ammunition in its ships to jihadi elements in Southern Philippines and that in return for this the HUM and the ISI had gifted some anti-aircraft weapons and ammunition and surface-to-air missiles to the LTTE.

5.Since 9/11, this source for clandestine arms procurement and heroin smuggling for the LTTE has dried up due to the deployment of NATO ships off Pakistan to prevent any shipping activity in support of Al Qaeda. The HUM continues to have an active presence in the Southern Philippines and the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) in the Arakan area of Myanmar and in Southern Thailand. One cannot rule out the possibility of the HUM---and possibly even the HUJI--- maintaining fraternal ties with the LTTE despite its Hindu/Christian background and past anti-Muslim policies in the areas controlled by it.

6. These are opportunistic alliances to assist each other and the fact that the LTTE had followed an anti-Muslim policy should not come in their way. In my past articles, I had mentioned that the ISI's arms gifts to the LTTE despite its anti-Muslim policies started after its assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in May,1991.

7. Against this background, a possible line of enquiry should be whether the HUM or any of its allies in the IIF is repaying a debt to the LTTE for its past assistance by attacking the Sri Lankan cricket team.

8. Relevant extracts from my past articles having a bearing on this are annexed. (3-3-09)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )

ANNEXURE

In the second half of 1994, the LTTE had helped the Harkat-ul-Ansar (since renamed as the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen), the terrorist organisation of Pakistan run by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), in smuggling at least two shiploads of arms and ammunition from Karachi for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) of the Southern Philippines. In return for the LTTE's assistance in safely carrying these items to the Southern Philippines, the HUM and the ISI gave to it an undetermined quantity of anti-aircraft guns with ammunition and surface-to-air shoulder-fired missiles. The LTTE brought these weapons into use for the first time in April 1995 when it downed two aircraft of the Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF) at Palali. Subsequently, it continued to use its anti-aircraft capability acquired from the HUM and the ISI against the SLAF effectively . It was also reported to have received replenishments of this capability in return for assisting the HUM in shipping to a port in Turkey consignments of arms and ammunition meant for the Islamic terrorists in Chechnya.

---From my article of 24. 07. 2001 titled ATTACK ON SRI LANKAN AIR BASE AT KATUNAYAKE at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers3/paper284.html



The details also indicate that the maximum damage to the planes of the SLAF and the SL Airlines was, most probably, caused with rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launchers of Soviet vintage which the Afghan Mujahideen, now forming part of the Taliban, and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan had captured in large numbers from the arms depots of Kabul after the collapse of the Najibullah regime in April, 1992. In the past, the ISI and its creation, the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), had supplied at least three consignments of weapons seized from Kabul, including the launchers and anti-aircraft guns and missiles, to the LTTE in return for its assistance in narcotics smuggling and in shipping arms consignments to the Muslim separatists in Southern Philippines and to the Chechen terrorists in Russia through a Turkish port.

--- From my article of 26. 07. 2001 titled THE OMENS FROM KATUNAYAKE at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers3/paper285.html

In its fierce determination to achieve its political objective of a Tamil Eeelam, a separate Tamil State encompassing the Northern and Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka, the LTTE follows a no-holds-barred approach. It has had no qualms over letting its fleet be used for narcotics-running by the heroin barons of Pakistan and Afghanistan or for gun running to the Abu Sayyaf and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front of the Southern Phillipines by the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM) of Pakistan in order to replenish its coffers and arsenal. It did not hesitate to accept a consignment of arms and ammunition from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan in 1993.

---- From my article of 29. 04. 2002 titled THE LTTE: The Metamorphosis at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers5/paper448.html

India has also an international obligation under various international conventions relating to counter-terrorism and particularly under the UN Security Resolution No.1373, which was passed after the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US. The UNSC Resolution No.1373 applies to all international terrorist organisations and not just to international jihadi terrorist organisations. The LTTE comes under the definition of an international terrorist organisation due to various reasons. Firstly, it had carried out acts of terrorism in Indian soil in the past, including the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991. Secondly, it has had contacts in the past with the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM) of Pakistan, which is a founding-member of Osama bin Laden's International Islamic Front (IIF) and which is behind many acts of jihadi terrorism in Indian territory. Thirdly, it has had contacts in the past with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The arms and ammunition carried by the late Kittu's ship in 1993 were given by the HUM and were loaded on to the LTTE ship at Karachi with the complicity of the ISI. Fourthly, it has had and continues to have contacts with various terrorist organisations of West Asia such as the Hezbollah of the Lebanon. Fifthly, it runs an international arms smuggling and procurement network with the help of some members of the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora abroad. Sixthly, the recent investigations by the Tamil Nadu Police have brought out that though the LTTE has not used the Indian territory for an act of terrorism after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, it continues to use the Indian territory for the procurement of material required for improvised explosive devices. Seventhly, it has set up logistics support sanctuaries in many countries of the world with the help of members of the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora as well as others sympathetic to it. These factors oblige India to extend to Sri Lanka two kinds of assistance----namely, intelligence-sharing and action against the LTTE's logistics support sanctuaries in Indian territory. India has already been extending such assistance. While intelligence-sharing cannot be public knowledge, the details of the recent actions by the Coast Guard and the Tamil Nadu Police against the LTTE's procurement activities are evidence of the Indian co-operation. The 9/11 terrorist strikes also brought about a recognition by the international community that terrorism is an absolute evil, whatever be its cause and objective and should not be tolerated. Every State, which is a victim of terrorism, has a right to take all legitimate self-defence measures to protect the lives and property of its nationals. Thus, the Government of Sri Lanka has the right to take all legitimate measures to protect its citizens from acts of terrorism. Such legitimate measures include procurement of the weapons and expertise required for counter-terrorism operations from other countries.

---- Extract from my article of 2-6-07 titled SRI LANKA & INDIA: FACING REALITIES at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers23/paper2261.html

1 comment:

Man of the seas. said...

Indeed true.


Capt Gajanan Karanjikar