Security intelligence authorities are warning that exiled LTTE leaders are re-establishing their violent separatist movement in Canada.
"We don't know how far advanced it is, but their intent is pretty clear — to set up a base-in-exile here for the leadership. Some leadership is already here," a well-placed federal government official told the Ottawa Citizen.
The warning accompanied a report late last week to senior government officials revealing that two Southeast Asian smuggling syndicates are arranging the launch of two more shiploads of Tamil migrants to British Columbia in the coming weeks. The boats are expected to carry as many as 50 former LTTE leaders, according to intelligence estimates.
Two previous cargo ships, Sun Sea and Ocean Lady, arrived off the West Coast last year and in 2009 carrying a total of 568 migrants, including several men the government suspects are former rebels.
"How many have made it through, how advanced they are is not clear, (but) we're concerned," said the official. "Canadians expect us to avoid becoming a haven for terrorists."
The Canada Border Services Agency has alleged that at least 14 of the MV Sun Sea migrants are inadmissible to Canada due to membership in a terrorist organization. An Immigration and Refugee Board spokeswoman says admissibility hearings for those individuals could begin next month.
In all, about 225 out of the 380 men and about 57 out of the 63 women from Sun Sea have been ordered released. Many of those releases have been stayed because the government appealed them in Federal Court. The remaining 49 are children, who were not detained, but remained with their detained parents.
Canada is home to the largest Tamil diaspora, estimated to number 300,000. The vast majority live peacefully, mostly around Toronto.
Still, that makes Canada one of the few places in the world where "LTTE terrorists and supporters might seek to hide in plain sight, and potentially launch terrorist activities," RCMP Commissioner William Elliott noted in a 2009 speech.
"Remember that in its aspirations for a Sikh homeland, the Babbar Khalsa had no specific grievance with Canada. However, their activists and sympathizers here both conceived and carried out the Air India bombing. The result was the world's worst terrorist attack involving aircraft before the fall of 2001, and the worst mass murder in Canadian history," Elliott said.
Violence is not the only concern. Experience shows immigrant communities are often threatened and intimidated by exiled militants into supporting, financially and otherwise, violent causes in their homelands. There's also a risk of radicalization of the community's youth.
The Canadian government is expected to push its proposed anti-smuggling legislation when the House of Commons resumes sitting Jan. 31.
The new law, which the opposition has vowed to vote down, would toughen jail terms and fines for those found guilty of human smuggling and penalize asylum seekers who are deemed to have paid human smugglers to get them to Canada. Previous migrants have paid $40,000 to $50,000.
Migrants also could be detained for a year or more without review and they would be barred from becoming permanent residents for five years, even if their refugee claim is accepted.