EU-US INTERNATIONAL SEMINAR ON LTTE
9th -10th Dec 2008
EUROPOL
The Hague

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Time to Act:
The LTTE, its Front Organizations, and the Challenge to Europe

 

By Ravinatha P. Aryasinha
Ambassador of Sri Lanka to the EU,
Belgium and Luxembourg

 


7. How the world has reacted to the activities of the LTTE and its front organizations in recent times.


a) The earliest action against an LTTE front organization was taken in the U.K., when in October 2000 (even before the LTTE was eventually proscribed in the UK in February 2001), an investigation was launched into the activities of the TRO in UK, and the organization was subsequently removed from the register of charities by the UK Charity Commission on 10 August 2005. One of the findings of the report was that “TRO Sri Lanka liaised with the LTTE in determining where funds could be applied” and also that “the trustees of TRO/UK exercised little or no control over the application of funds in Sri Lanka and failed to demonstrate a clear audit trail relating to expenditure. They also failed to provide the
commission with any explanation as to the provenance of some of the funds received from the US and Canada.”

Although the TRO was de-listed from the charitable organizations list in the UK, it continues to collect funds within the UK, through “White Pigeon”, another front organization of the LTTE. (It is noteworthy that subsequently both the TRO and White Pigeon were proscribed in the US in 2007.)

Notwithstanding the de-listing of the TRO, numerous LTTE front organizations continue to operate in the UK to carry forward the activities done by these organizations for the LTTE. These include; ITRO, BTA, BTF.

Of these the BTA has been in the spotlight of investigation since the June 2007 arrest (and release on conditional bail) and subsequent April 2008 re-arrest by the British authorities of BTA Chief Mr. Arunachalam Chrishanthakumar alias A.C.Shanthan, who until the proscription of the LTTE in the UK in 2001, was the head of Eelam House, the LTTE’s International Secretariat which was located in London. Mr. Chrishanthakumar and three others belonging to LTTE front organizations who assisted him, have been formally charged in the UK Central Criminal Court under section 15 and 22 of the UK Terrorism Act 2000 and the case is pending.

b) In Sri Lanka, on the basis of discrepancies in the collections abroad and receipt of funds in Sri Lanka, as well as disbursement in Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the 2004 Tsunami, an investigation on the TRO was begun. Following investigations into financial transactions by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of the Central Bank established under anti money laundering legislation, FIU suspended all TRO accounts in Sri Lanka on 28 August 2006.

Immediately on the heels of the freezing of assets of the TRO in the United States on 15 November 2007 the Government of Sri Lanka on the 21st of November 2007 proscribed the LTTE front organization – the TRO – in Sri Lanka and appealed to international community to follow the processes initiated in the United States to curtail LTTE’s terrorist financing.

A sum of approximately Rupees 71 million which was lying to the credit of the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) at the time the funds of the TRO were frozen in Sri Lanka, has now been forfeited by the State. The TRO accounts were suspended in Sri Lanka in terms of the provisions of the Financial Transactions Reporting Act and the Convention on the Suppression of Terrorist Financing Act in August 2006. Such suspension was carried out on the grounds that large sums of money received by the TRO from time to time from international non-governmental organizations, individuals, foreign entities and TRO branches in several foreign locations, purporting to be funds for humanitarian projects in Sri Lanka, were, according to intelligence reports, mainly used to finance terrorist activities, and that the money, securities or credits which were lying to its credit were being used or intended to be used for such purposes.

Investigations are in progress to trace and forfeit any further funds and assets belonging to the TRO. Accordingly, the general public is cautioned that they should not have any financial transactions or any other links with the TRO, or with any of its offices, since any involvement including any financial connection with a proscribed organization, is a criminal offence.

c) In the US, on 15 November 2007, in terms of Executive Order 13224 the U.S. Government designated the Tamils Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) as a terrorist entity and froze the assets of the TRO in the US. It is now listed in the SDN list of the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) under the US Department of Treasury. In this regard, US government statements noted inter-alia:


• The TRO was acting “as a front to facilitate fundraising” and provide other support for the Tamil Tigers

• “Passed off its operations as charitable when in fact it was raising money for a designated terrorist organization responsible for heinous acts of terrorism”

• TRO is “the conduit of funds from the United States to the (Tamil Tigers) in Sri Lanka”

• Involved in the purchase of “munitions, equipment, communications devices and other technology” for the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka”

• “The LTTE oversees the activities of the TRO and LTTE linked organizations in Sri Lanka and abroad. Directives issued by the LTTE suggest that the LTTE-affiliated branch representatives are expected to coordinate their efforts with the respective TRO representatives in their locations and report on all activity to the LTTE”

As revealed in the US investigation, the TRO engages in procurement of military arms, equipment, communication devices, etc. which activities point to its critical terrorist linkage with the terrorist group – the LTTE, and are also indicative of engagement in terrorism including aiding and abetting.

The proscription of the TRO in the US, was preceded by an FBI investigation of the activities of TRO/USA and its transactions and the arrest during the period 2006-2007 in various parts of the US and in Guam, of 17 activists for raising funds, money laundering to purchase military equipment including surface to air missiles, night vision devices, AK-47s and to bribe state department officials to remove the LTTE from the foreign terrorist organization list and to purchase classified intelligence concerning the LTTE and to influence at least one US Congressman. Most important among them was the arrest on 25 April 2007 in Queens of the head of the World Tamil Coordinating Committee (WTCC), Karunakaran Kandasamy (alleged to be the LTTE in-charge in the US), on charges of providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization. The group headed by him reportedly operated in the US "drawing on America’s financial resources and technological advances to further its war of terror in Sri Lanka and elsewhere”. A FBI raid on Kandasamy’s office in Queens has


revealed evidence that he had raised millions of dollars for the Tamil Tigers through the WTCC. Already 4 of these persons have been tried and convicted, while the others are due to stand trial shortly.

d) In Canada, on 13 June 2008, the Government proscribed the Toronto-based front organization of the LTTE, the World Tamil Movement (WTM), under the Anti-Terrorism Act of Canada. The directive issued by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions advised banks and insurance companies to notify the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) or Canadian Security Intelligence Service if they held any accounts linked to the WTM. The LTTE is entrenched in Canada and a 58-page RCMP document refers to the WTM as "the Canadian arm of the LTTE”.

Documents emerging from the investigations into the WTM have established, inter alia that the WTM is a foreign branch of the LTTE and that the WTM received direct instructions, through an ‘operational manual’ dated 28 July 2003, from the LTTE Leader Prabhakaran, inter alia, on raising funds for the LTTE. The manual found, also instructed that the younger generation should be taken in for the “freedom battle”.

RCMP counterterrorism investigators and Canada Revenue Agency charity regulators also accuse the TRO in Canada of having ties to the LTTE. It notes, "We believe that there are

reasonable grounds for concern that TRO (Canada) operates for purposes that conflict with Canadian public policy". The head of Canada's charities directorate wrote in a letter to the group. "More specifically, there appears to be reason to conclude that TRO (Canada) may be functioning as part of a support network for the terrorist organization Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam." Whether to designate the TRO a terrorist "entity" under the Anti-Terrorism Act, is believed to be currently under consideration in Canada.

e) In France, 21 activists belonging to LTTE front organizations including Nadarajah Mathinthiran, in-Charge of the Coordination Committee of Tamils in France” (CCTF) were arrested in April, May and September 2007. They continue to be under arrest/on bail and are due to stand trial shortly “for criminal conspiracy with a view to perpetrate acts of terrorism, financing of terrorist enterprise and extortion”. It has been established that
TRO-France alone has raised 7.2 million Euro during 2006 for the LTTE (where each Tamil family was forced to pay 2000 Euros per year and shopkeepers were made to pay 6000 Euros).

f) In Australia, having been arrested on 1 May 2007, on 13 Sept 2007, 3 persons, Aruran Vinayagamoorthy, Sivarajah Yathavan, and Arumugam Rajeevan were charged for using Tamil Coordinating Committee (TCC) in Melbourne to raise funds for the LTTE. Mr. J. Jeyakumar, head of LTTE in Australia/New Zealand and also a prominent member of TCC was accused for the same charges, died while the investigations continued. When they reportedly appeared for the start of their committal hearing at Melbourne Magistrates' Court. Mark Dean S.C, the Commonwealth prosecutor, told the court that US $1.9 million was deposited in a bank account for the TCC between 2001 and 2005. He alleged that US $1.2 million of that money was withdrawn in cash and was used to purchase electronic equipment and other items for the LTTE. He said money provided to the LTTE was collected under the guise of donations for charitable projects and included money raised after the 2004 tsunami. They have been charged for collecting funds and providing material support to the LTTE.


The Attorney General’s Department of Sri Lanka assisted the Australian Federal Police (AFP) by coordinating the connected investigations in Sri Lanka and provided evidence to establish that (a) the LTTE is a terrorist organization & (b) certain items procured by the suspects had been subsequently used by the LTTE to commit acts of terrorism. In late 2007, a committal proceeding was held in a Magistrates Court of Melbourne and the Magistrate held that there existed a prima-facie case against the defendants. The Defendants now stand trial on Indictment in the Supreme Court of the State of Victoria. As the LTTE had not been proscribed in a timely manner in Australia, now the prosecution has to go through a detailed process of presenting admissible evidence to establish that the LTTE is in fact a terrorist organization.

g) In Denmark, TRO-Denmark has had its assets amounting to DKK 52,000 (over 7,000 Euros) frozen for supporting the LTTE. The action was taken 5 days after the US proscription of the TRO. The TRO has been forced to close down their offices in Denmark in July 2008 due to the lack of money to pay rent and the number of members has fallen dramatically since the allegations against the organisation. TRO-Denmark, which appealed the conviction early through Municipal Court and High Court without success, is now before the Supreme Court.

h) In Italy, on 19 June 2008, Italian police arrested 28 Sri Lankan suspected LTTE sympathisers for providing funding for the group. The suspects were arrested from 9 cities including Rome, Genoa, Bologna, Naples and Palermo at the end of a two-year investigation According to Naples police all suspects are Sri Lankan citizens and extorted money from their fellow nationals in the various cities and sent it home to finance the LTTE. The investigations are continuing.

 


 
   
   
   
   

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