Procurement: Gunrunning in Australia

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June 8, 2007: 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.

 


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