Counter-Terrorism: Gunrunners In America


January 28, 2009: Two Sri Lankan refugees have pled guilty, in a U.S. court, to arranging an arms buy (surface to air missiles and AK-47s) for terrorist organization LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam). The two live in Canada, where they received refugee status because of the civil war in Sri Lanka (between the LTTE and the government). Both have been active in local Tamil politics. Three other members of the LTTE gunrunning ring are to go on trial. The two admitted that they had been in touch with senior LTTE officials for the million dollars weapons buy.

The LTTE represents the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka, which has had bad relations with the Sinhala majority for many generations. The LTTE used terrorism, and fund raising (to buy weapons and equipment) among expatriate Tamil communities, to fight a two decade long civil war. The missile and assault rifle purchase attempt took place 30 months ago, when the ceasefire between the LTTE and the government had broken down, and heavy fighting had resumed. This apparently accounted for the urgency of the five Canadians to pursue arms procurement from a new source (who turned out to be an FBI agent).

Since mid-2006, the LTTE has lost most of the territory it controlled in Sri Lanka, and is on the verge of complete defeat. But the LTTE was, and still, is, a terrorist organization with an international reach. For this reason, U.S. and Canadian counter-terrorism forces are eager to find any more exiled Tamils who are still working for the LTTE.



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