Procurement: All In The Family

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March 7,2008: The LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam), a separatist Tamil group from the island of Sri Lanka, has been revealed as a key operator in a worldwide weapons smuggling operation. This has served a wide variety of terrorist organizations. In three decades of fighting, the LTTE has killed over 70,000 people and pioneered the use of suicide bombers. This included inventing the explosive belt. The LTTE has also killed two national leaders (of Sri Lanka and India) and many more senior government officials than Islamic terrorists. Al Qaeda learned quite a lot about terrorism from the LTTE, which is basically a secular organizations (although most members are Hindu).

But even more importantly, the LTTE pioneered fund raising and procurement techniques that have greatly aided Islamic terrorists. The LTTE developed methods which enabled them to raise large amounts of money from expatriate Tamils (who are native to southern India). The LTTE was also able to raise money from Tamils in southern India, but it was the techniques of pretending to collect money for charity work, then using it to fund terrorism, that really caught al Qaedas attention.

All this eventually caught the attention of counter-terror organizations in many countries, leading to the LTTE being declared a terrorist organization, and many of its fund raising operations shut down. As that was done, more and more evidence (documents, and interrogations) piled up showing that the LTTE had worked with Palestinian, Kurdish, Taliban, Al Quaeda, Eritrea, Filipino, and other Middle Eastern groups to obtain illegal weapons, and learn how to use them. The LTTE also became the primary weapons purchaser, and transporter for many of these other terrorist groups. The LTTE maintained hundreds of small, and a few large, boats for transporting these weapons to LTTE controlled parts of the island country of Sri Lanka, and other parts of the world as well. But recent reverses have destroyed most of that fleet, especially the six large ships, that could move weapons around the world, and sometimes did.

The LTTE arms procurement operation has been badly damaged, but is still (barely) functioning. The terrorist groups it has worked with in the past are also experiencing hard times. But the information about these past LTTE exploits demonstrates how terrorist groups, with quite different agendas, can cooperate for their mutual benefit.

 


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