In Sri Lanka, the Tamil rebels
recently began using civilian aircraft (four seater Zlins from the Czech
Republic) as night bombers. The aircraft were rigged to carry a few hundred
pounds of home made bombs, and made a few attacks on government targets. This
got more people thinking about where the LTTE (the Tamil rebel organization)
was getting all their weapons. These included three 152mm (Type 66) howitzers,
three 130mm (Type 59) howitzers, twenty 122mm (Type 86 and Type 83) howitzers
and one 85mm (D-48) howitzer. There were also about a hundred mortars,
including 120mm (Type 86), 81mm (Type 84) and 60mm (Type 89) types. Some of
this stuff was captured from the Sri Lankan army during over ten years of
fighting, but some was also bought on the black market and brought in,
disassembled, on fishing boats. Ammunition has also been shipped in for years.
Some was even flown in.
Over the last few years, it has been discovered
that the LTTE has built up a large fund raising, and weapons purchasing network
among overseas Tamil communities (many of them exiles from Sri Lanka, as well
as migrants from southern India, where most Tamils live). Turns out that most
of the weapons were being purchased via a group of Tamils in Australia.
Although there are only about 30,000 Tamils in Australia, they are relatively
prosperous. The LTTE air force was put together by the LTTE "purchasing agents"
in Australia. Now that their cover has been blown, the LTTE is about to get
banned, in Australia, as a terrorist organization. But the purchasing
operatives will move elsewhere, and continue making use of the international
underground arms market.