Sri Lanka: Crushing The Phantom Menace


August 8, 2009: The LTTE terrorist organization is trying to reform itself inside Sri Lanka. This is becoming clear as investigators identify and interrogate more LTTE operatives and leaders in the refugee camps. One interrogation leads to more identifications and so on. Many of the LTTE members are dispirited by their defeat, and respond to government promises of economic assistance. The government has an incentive to come through with these promises, because the information they are getting on the extent and composition of the LTTE organization is frightening. The LTTE had a smuggling operation within Sri Lanka, as well as agents throughout the Sinhalese south.

The government is also trying to collect information on exactly where thousands of landmines were planted, particularly during the last year, as the army advanced into territory long controlled by the LTTE. Troops avoided most of those mines, but now Tamil civilians will be moving back into villages and agricultural  areas that may, or may not, be mined. Without location information, the only way a lot of these minefields are going to be found is when a farmer working, or children playing, set off one of the mines. But minefield location data was often not recorded, as the mines were planted in haste as army troops approached. Or if the location was recorded, the document was lost, or destroyed when the LTTE operative carrying it was killed by artillery or a bomb. India is sending hundreds of military mine clearing specialists, but even they cannot clear mines when the location of the minefield is not known.

Several times a week, police and troops find another weapons cache (usually containing small arms, ammo, landmines and explosives, just what is needed to revive a terrorist campaign.) Military and police intelligence officials are still screening the 300,000 Tamils in refugee camps up north. Each week, several more key members of LTTE terrorist organizations are identified and arrested. For example, the man who organized the October, 2007 airbase raid (that destroyed ten aircraft) was identified, found and arrested. Police have also captured several of the technicians who built bombs used in attacks on military personnel and politicians. Interrogations of LTTE operatives has also revealed at least one Sri Lankan government official who was working for the LTTE. More importantly, the interrogations provide locations for hidden LTTE weapons.

The government is paying particular attention to rehabilitating full time LTTE fighters. There are over 20,000 of these and they are being offered vocational training and help in finding a job. This will be helped by the fact that the economy is booming. Even tourism, long hurt by the LTTE terrorism, is up nine percent over last year, all because of the end of the war.

August 6, 2009: The government has sent the first batch of 6,000 Tamil refugees home from the camps. More will be released, once they are screened (to detect LTTE members and leaders, or simply any Tamil willing to provide useful information, especially about minefields, weapons caches or LTTE members). The government is also restoring cell phone service in the north, but with restrictions on who can have a phone. The government is certain that the LTTE will try to reform and resume its terrorism campaign, and cell phones are key tools for that. Internet access is even more dangerous, because that enables the LTTE to use VOIP (phone calls via the Internet), which can be encrypted, and impossible for the police to eavesdrop on.

August 5, 2009: The new head of the LTTE, Selvarajah Pathmanathan, has been captured in Malaysia. Pathmanathan was long the head of the LTTE weapons smuggling operation, and thus had security arrangements in Thailand, Malaysia and Myanmar. Pathmanathan also headed the LTTE global fund raising operation, giving him access to large amounts of money. Pathmanathan was seized in a hotel in the Malaysian capital, quickly flown to neighboring Thailand and then to Sri Lanka. Thailand and Malaysia were glad to see the LTTE gunrunning operation, and Pathmanathan, shut down. The smugglers corrupted local officials, and often provided weapons for local criminals and terrorists.

It's unclear how Pathmanathan was tracked down, but it's believed that communications gear found on or near LTTE founder Vellupillai Prabhakaran when he was killed earlier this year, provided the key. The army captured large amounts of LTTE communications gear, including satellite phones, code books (for secret messaging) and the like. All this provided clues to who the other key members of the LTTE were, where they operated from and how one might keep track of their movements. Cooperation from Indian, Thai and Malaysian police also provided useful information for the hunt, which enabled the new head of the LTTE to be caught within two weeks of him assuming his new job. Some also believe that jealous rivals within the LTTE may have tipped off police on where Pathmanathan was. That's possible, but unlikely, as the LTTE is in pretty bad shape at the moment, and that usually unites an organization facing a threat to its very existence. It is hoped that Pathmanathan will talk freely. If not, he stands to be prosecuted, in several countries, for murder. Unless he can make a deal (by telling everything he knows), he's headed straight for the gallows. Capital punishment is still legal in Buddhist Sri Lanka, but no executions have been carried out for decades. Public opinion regarding LTTE leaders could change that.

August 2, 2009: Interrogations of captured LTTE operatives revealed the location, on the west coast, of seven LTTE boats, with 200 horsepower engines, hidden in the jungle. The extent of hidden LTTE material has shocked government intelligence officials, who had underestimated how lavishly the LTTE had equipped itself.

July 28, 2009:  Police arrested a senior LTTE intelligence official, Pakyaraja Pradeep, in a central Sri Lanka village. The police had received information from another captured LTTE member about Pradeep's location. Pradeep was in possession of a suicide vest when arrested.

July 25, 2009: In the southern coastal town of Kalutara, factional fighting in a local mosque led to a fight that left two dead and eleven wounded. The years of persecution by the LTTE has resulted in growing popularity for Islamic radicalism, in order to defend Islam from the evil Hindus (the Tamils are Hindu, but the LTTE is not). This Islamic radicalism never attracted much attention because of the far more violent LTTE operations. But now the LTTE is smashed, and the Moslems are trying to sort out who shall dominate Islamic affairs on the island.

July 24, 2009: The government is releasing most military deserters from jail. Last month, 585 were freed on the occasion of a Buddhist festival, and now another 1,800 are being freed via a presidential amnesty. Most deserters were not caught, prosecuted and jailed, and  are still technically part of the armed forces. There are over 50,000 of these, and the government is moving to simply discharge them and be done with it.


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