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U.S. freezes assets of LTTE-linked charity TRO
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Author:  Guest [ Sat Nov 17, 2007 10:28 pm ]
Post subject:  U.S. freezes assets of LTTE-linked charity TRO

U.S. freezes assets of LTTE-linked charity TRO

In the United States, a major LTTE fundraising organization, the TRO, was banned. Many LTTE fundraising operations have been crippled in the past year, reducing cash flow for the hard pressed rebels.

@ The Hindu / B. Muralidhar Reddy

COLOMBO: The United States on Thursday froze the assets of the Tamils Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO), a charitable organisation, on charges that it was a front to facilitate fund-raising and procurement for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The LTTE has been designated by the U.S. as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist Organisation since 2001 and a Foreign Terrorist Organisation since 1997. A statement by the State Department released here said the TRO was designated under Executive Order 13224, which is aimed at financially isolating terrorist groups and their support networks.

The order freezes assets held by the concerned entity under U.S. jurisdiction and prohibits U.S. citizens from transacting with it.

At a news conference here, U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Robert Blake, was at pains to emphasise that that this designation “is an action against the LTTE, not against the Tamil people”. Welcoming the U.S. decision, Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogallagama said the action should encourage other countries which are also investigating LTTE front organisations including the TRO — particularly Australia, Canada, Denmark, France and the U.K. to take tangible action against these organisations.




Lanka thanks US for freezing TRO assets

@ DM / Saturday, November 17, 2007
By Kelum Bandara and Yohan Perera


The government yesterday expressed its gratitude to the US government for freezing the assets of the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) and designating it as a front facilitating fund raising and procurement of weapons for the LTTE.

Making a special statement to the House, Foreign Affairs Minister Rohitha Bogollagama requested other countries to follow suit and said this measure by the US was aimed at financially isolating terrorist groups and their support networks.

“It was previously applied to a number of Front Organisations particularly of Islamic militant groups,” he said.

Mr. Bogollagama said Sri Lanka had in recent times emphasised that the proscription of the LTTE in India, the US, Canada and EU member countries had been undermined and diluted because numerous front organisations posing off as charitable fronts continued fund raising to replenish the Tiger arsenal. He said the TRO had been the most prominent among them and the Central Bank freezed its funds in September 2006.

“I have emphasised the damage done by this organisation particularly in the US and we have provided evidence that lends credence to our concerns,” he said. “It is in this context, that I wish to place on record the deep appreciation of the government of Sri Lanka and this entire House, to the US Administration especially the Treasury Department, for the speedy investigation carried out and for the action taken against the TRO.”

He said that the US government became the first foreign government to take tangible action against an LTTE front organisation.

The Foreign Minister said the action taken by the US should serve as an example to other countries such as Australia, Canada, Denmark, France and Britain who would follow suit as they were conducting investigations into LTTE front organisations.




Govt. to ban TRO?

@ DM / Saturday, November 17, 2007
By Kelum Bandara and Yohan Perera


Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama said in parliament yesterday that the government would consider taking steps to ban the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO).

The new move comes in the wake of the US proscribing the TRO designating it as a front organization raising funds and procuring arms for the LTTE.Mr.Bogollagama was responding to JVP parliamentary group leader Wimal Weerawansa who emphasized the need to proscribe the TRO here to ensure the maximum impact of the ban imposed on it by the US.

Mr. Weerawansa noted that the TRO remained a legally accepted humanitarian organization in Sri Lanka and it was imperative to ban the front to cripple its links with terrorists. He said that the LTTE had not been banned according to the law of this country.“It is clear that the US has banned it today. But, it has to be banned here as well,” he said.

He said that the UNICEF had also provided Rs.100 million to the TRO and the government could not do anything against any organization giving money to TRO because it was a legally registered NGO in the country. The Foreign Minister responded to him saying that there was no question about remarks made by Mr. Weerawansa. Mr. Bogollagama assured that the government would take steps in this regard.




A laudable decision

@ CDN / Editorial - Saturday, 17 November 2007

The latest decision by the US demonstrates once again its commitment to eradicate terrorism in all its manifestations around the world. The US has always called a spade a spade when it comes to the barbaric activities of the LTTE even as many other countries did not even dare to name the LTTE when they condemned terrorist atrocities in Sri Lanka.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, one of the most ‘globalised’ terror networks in the world, depends mainly on funds raised abroad for its campaign of violence in Sri Lanka. The Human Rights Watch and other rights groups have documented how the Tigers extort the Tamil diaspora abroad to raise millions of dollars every year.

Apart from ‘taxing’ the Tamil expatriates, the Tigers raise funds from the other citizens of various countries through front organisations that seemingly have no connection to the LTTE.

This practice is widespread even in countries where the LTTE itself is banned as the fronts use names which have no direct connection to the LTTE. Moreover, they collect funds for so-called charitable causes, including tsunami rehabilitation.

Nevertheless, investigators in these countries have seen through the fa‡ade of these charitable organisations. Thus yesterday’s decision by the US to freeze the US funds of the Tamils Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO) should come as no surprise to keen LTTE watchers. TRO funds have already been frozen in Sri Lanka itself and in some of the 16 countries it operates in.

In the words of the US Treasury, the “TRO passed off its operations as charitable, when in fact it was raising money for a designated terrorist group responsible for heinous acts’’. The US Treasury’s action bars any US resident from doing business with the TRO, which has offices in Maryland.

This action will impact severely on the LTTE fund raising and arms procurement network, which has already suffered several major setbacks. In fact, the main purpose of fund raising is arms procurement and any impediment to raising funds directly affects the group’s weapons purchases.

The Navy’s recent successes whereby nearly 10 LTTE weapons ships were destroyed have also added to the LTTE’s woes in this regard.

The latest decision by the US demonstrates once again its commitment to eradicate terrorism in all its manifestations around the world. The US has always called a spade a spade when it comes to the barbaric activities of the LTTE even as many other countries did not even dare to name the LTTE when they condemned terrorist atrocities in Sri Lanka.

On the other hand, the US has consistently named and shamed the LTTE. It was one of the first non-Asian countries to ban the LTTE, in 1997. It recently arrested several LTTE operatives who were planning to buy weapons including anti-aircraft missiles and attempting to bribe State Department officials to get the ban on the group removed.

The US has continued with its anti-terrorism military training programmes for members of the Sri Lankan Security Forces and recently gifted an advanced radar system to the Navy which will augment its reconnaissance capabilities.

The Navy also received Inflatable Rigid Hull Boats which will help the Navy in the fight against the LTTE Sea Tigers.

As a Co-Chair, the US continues to support a just, negotiated political settlement to the conflict in Sri Lanka that meets the aspirations of all communities. This is exactly what President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who completes two years in office next week, has enunciated in his Mahinda Chinthana vision for a prosperous Sri Lanka.

President Rajapaksa and the Government have always maintained that they were committed to a negotiated settlement, pointing out that it was the LTTE which walked away from the peace talks. Military action has been cited as a means to bring the LTTE back to the negotiating table.

It is time the LTTE thought seriously of re-joining the peace process, as the Government has made it clear that the doors are still open for talks.

It has suffered a string of military defeats including losing the entire East and the recent death of its political wing chief S.P. Thamilselvan in an SLAF air strike is seen as a crippling blow.

Besides, the international environment is not favourable to the LTTE or for that matter, any other terrorist group.

The emerging laws on money laundering and terrorist financing will be a blow to all terror groups who use illegitimate channels to transfer money to their secret coffers.

Having perceived the global reach of terrorist organisations, more countries are working together, sharing intelligence and information to nip their heinous designs in the bud. The curtailment of fundraising activities is one of the most effective ways of crushing terrorism.

The US has thus set a fine example to the rest of the world. Paying lip service to the drive against terrorism is not enough. The world needs concrete action to battle terrorism on every possible front.

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