Sri Lanka: European Racists Close In

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August 30, 2009: The government believes the LTTE has been crippled, with the capture of their new leader, Selvarajah Pathmanathan. This was because Pathmanathan, as leader of the LTTE gunrunning operation, kept many operational details and contacts to himself. Any successor will have to rebuild much of the organization without that knowledge. Pathmanathan also controlled a lot of the money collected from expatriate Tamils, and now those contributions have dried up (partly because the LTTE has been declared a terrorist group in so many nations). The government is negotiating with Pathmanathan to find out where the remaining funds are, and what shape the offshore LTTE organization is in. While many Sri Lankans want Pathmanathan executed, or jailed for life, Pathmanathan is a skilled negotiator who is intent on talking his way out of a death sentence.

Pathmanathan also has information on the organization that only the senior leadership had. He is able to let the government know how large the organization was in Sri Lanka before the final offensive, that ended the war, began last year. There were 30,000 LTTE members back then. Not all were armed, but all were organized, and the army captured lots of records listing who they are. Most of these LTTE staff survived the final campaign, and the government is looking for them. These are the people who could rebuild the LTTE, and who are even now trying to carry out terror attacks.

The government is pretty angry at the criticism it gets by European and American politicians and media, over the treatment of the northern Tamils. Many prominent Europeans want the Tamils in refugee camps released immediately, and Sri Lankan security forces prosecuted for war crimes. This sort of thing enrages the Sinhalese majority in Sri Lanka, and results in accusations that these foreign critics are a bunch of pro-terrorist, delusional, racists (who imply that the Sri Lankans cannot govern themselves).  India, the original home of the Tamils (who are a minority there, comprising only about six percent of the population), is much more sympathetic to the Sri Lankan government. Partly, this is to keep the Chinese out (who are offering all manner of attractive commercial deals to Sri Lanka at the moment). But India knows all about fanatical sects and political movements, and was also subject to LTTE terrorism. Europe wasn’t, and doesn't understand. Thus the camps will only be closed when all the LTTE members inside them are identified, and no sooner.

Meanwhile, some atrocities have taken place, but often against Sri Lankans who don't get along with the police. Over more than two decades of terrorism and violence, the national police have acquired an attitude that they are above the law. Cross the cops, and you end up dead, or maybe just beaten, or crippled. To show you a lesson. Popular anger against this sort of thing has been building for some time, and politicians realized that they could no longer get away with not dealing with it. So, since the LTTE was crushed earlier this year, more police have been arrested and prosecuted for misconduct.

The police, in turn, have been ordered to crack down on the criminal gangs, who flourished during the last two decades, often by being the paid accomplices of the LTTE. There is also fear that the criminal gangs will get their hands on some of the hidden LTTE weapons, and put them back into circulation. Today alone, troops and police found dozens of bombs, rifles and much ammunition up north. While much of these hidden weapons are found based on tips from Tamils in the camps, other stuff is found simply by examining likely hiding places. The north apparently has over a thousand of these hidden weapons caches.

Much more has been hidden, like secret agents within the government and military. Earlier this month, interrogations of captured LTTE members revealed that the cook (for the last seven years) of the head of the army (general Fonseka, recently promoted to head of the armed forces) was an LTTE agent. Several other well placed agents have been revealed, and there are apparently dozens more who are still in place (and no doubt trying to figure out how to flee the country).

August 29, 2009: In the north, troops searching for weapons, uncovered a hidden warehouse containing 140 landmines, and many other weapons.

August 25, 2009: Police discovered LTTE weapons, and a suicide bomber vest, apparently intended for use against the president's brother, who is also an official in the defense ministry. The members of this terrorist cell escaped capture, and the police fear there is more than one such group in the capital. Assassination attempts against senior officials usually take months to plan and prepare. It's unknown if this attempt was in the works for a while, or was being hastily put together by one of the many groups of LTTE killers now on their own, since the LTTE high command has been, for all intents and purposes, put out of action for the moment. There is no one at the top of the LTTE chain of command, issuing orders. So hundreds of small (no more than a dozen) groups of LTTE members are trying to reform the organization, and avoid capture.

August 23, 2009: In the north, police found four "suicide bomber kits", which had apparently been hidden, for later use, after the LTTE was driven out of the area.

August 21, 2009: Sri Lanka is establishing a school to train foreign troops in counter-terrorist methods developed during the years of fighting the LTTE. The Pakistani government made the initial request for this kind of training, but Sri Lanka found that several other nations were also interested. The Sri Lankan defeat of the LTTE was a rather complex process, not just a final, massive, military campaign. Military professionals recognize that, and want to learn the details of how the Sri Lankans did it.

August 20, 2009: The new commander (as of last month) of the army, lieutenant general Jagath Jayasuriya, has cancelled his predecessors plans to expand the military 50 percent. There will still be some expansion, but only a few thousand troops, and these will be commando and intelligence units needed to find and run down the remaining LTTE terrorists. More troops are being put to work clearing the LTTE mines and booby traps that cover much of the north, making many towns and villages uninhabitable until the devices are cleared.

August 15, 2009: Acting on a tip from a captured LTTE man, police found a 45 pound bomb hidden in a culvert outside the central Sri Lankan city of Mahiyangana. The bomb was defused and removed.

August 12, 2009: Police captured three more LTTE members who were making preparations for terror attacks. Although the senior LTTE leadership is dead, or fled, many lower ranking leaders are still around, and some of these are trying to organize more attacks.

August 10, 2009: Police seized a van full of bombs, (twenty eleven pound Claymore mines), that were headed for the capital to be used in suicide attacks. Elsewhere in the north, troops found six suicide boats, packed with nearly a ton of explosives. Many small caches of weapons (rifles, grenades, machine-guns, ammo) are being found. There are apparently many more to be discovered.

 

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