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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Tamil Tigers: A very dangerous group

A profile of the Tamil Tigers found here:
The LTTE is a model for existing and emerging insurgent groups. The international security and intelligence community generally assesses the LTTE as one of the world's most effective terrorist organisations. It is the only organisation to have assassinated two heads of government and develop a sea arm capable of countering a conventional navy. It also possesses a dedicated suicide squad, the Black Tigers.

The LTTE is likely to remain a formidable force until the government of Sri Lanka either develops force structures sufficient to destroy them militarily or a negotiated settlement is reached paving the way for the entry of the LTTE into the legitimate political arena.

The group maintains a very high level of readiness through effective training, the acquisition of modern equipment and, for an insurgent group, considerable capabilities for conventional war, with static naval clusters and fortified artillery positions.

It is likely the LTTE has the ability to concentrate a force of several thousand to strike anywhere in northeastern Sri Lanka and that it could mount suicide and other operations that would cause immense damage, especially in Colombo.

The LTTE maintains a well-equipped navy, the Sea Tigers, and Hagrup Haukland, the chief of the Norwegian-led military mission monitoring the ceasefire, stated in May 2005 that the group had constructed airstrips in the jungles of Mullaitivu and near Trincomalee and had acquired two light aircraft.

Explosives, weapons and other supplies have come from the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, just 22 miles away and a 45-minute dash by speedboat; the Sri Lankan navy has intercepted only a fraction of this incoming arsenal.

During the past decade, the LTTE has transported consignments of weapons from Bulgaria (SA 14, LAW), Ukraine (50 tonnes of TNT and 10 tonnes of RDX), Cyprus (RPGs), Cambodia (small arms), Thailand (small arms), Myanmar (small arms) and Croatia (32,400 mortars). The amount of explosives and mortars transported by the LTTE remains the largest quantity of armaments ever transported by a non-state armed group. Most armaments have been obtained by using forged or adapted end-user certificates.

International efforts to curtail the supply of weaponry to terrorist groups have been at least partially successful in reducing the flow to the LTTE. The absence of a comprehensive defence pact with India has hampered naval co-operation against LTTE maritime procurement. In this context, the LTTE has been able to maintain significant procurement links and has considerably enhanced its heavy artillery supplies during the ceasefire.
Part of the crackdown on Tamil arms shipments has played out in Baltimore, as set out here:
An Indonesian man pleaded guilty yesterday in Baltimore's U.S. District Court to charges related to trying to export banned military weapons to the Tamil Tigers rebels in Sri Lanka, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Haji Subandi, 69, pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, as well as two counts of money laundering and the attempted exportation of arms and munitions, federal prosecutors said.

Subandi had been arrested in September with five other suspected arms dealers after an elaborate sting operation. As part of the sting, alleged representatives of the Tamil Tigers deposited $700,000 with undercover agents as a down payment for millions of dollars in sniper rifles, submachine guns and grenade launchers, officials say.
The role model part of the LTTE is troubling- and that they seem to have support from the North Koreans and other groups.

UPDATE: India concerned over Tiger Air Corps as set out here:
A day after the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) marked the official debut of the Tamil Eelam Air Force (TAF) by attacking an air base in Sri Lanka, Indian security agencies appeared worried about a non-state air power in its vicinity.

The TAF's existence has not been a secret but its use has taken everyone by surprise.

Sources in Indian security agencies said the fact that the LTTE could avoid radar detection to reach Colombo, attack an air base and return safely was a "matter of concern for India."

While officially, India continues to maintain a discreet silence, the security establishment is worried. "India had expressed concern over this air capability in May 2005 to the Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission (SLMM). We will now undertake a review of our own strategic establishments," said a senior source in the defence ministry.

The LTTE said that the formation of the air wing (Vaanpuligal) was the work of Shankar alias Vythialingam Sornalingam.

He was an aeronautical engineer with Air Canada and held an engineering degree in aeronautics from Hindustan Engineering College in Tamil Nadu. While Shankar is no more, he is said to have done the ground work for the formation of the Air Tigers.

The aircraft used in the attack are Czech-made with local fixtures attached to the frame to allow automatic weapon discharge of four gravity bombs. Indian security agencies suspect that these aircraft were dismantled and reassembled in north-eastern Sri Lanka.

"This was possible only due to the network between the LTTE and other terror outfits operating transportation over sea routes," said a source.
Sea routes!

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