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 Post subject: Where 'jehadis' struck, LTTE thrives
 Post Posted: Sat Jul 16, 2005 1:54 pm 
Where 'jehadis' struck, LTTE thrives

By M.R. Narayan Swamy, Indo-Asian News Service
@Indo-Asian News Service


New Delhi, July 15, 2005(IANS) Sri Lanka's feared Tamil Tiger guerrillas, the undoubted masters of suicide attacks, continue to use Europe as a favourite base even as the continent steps up its anti-terrorist campaign.

The London bombings blamed on Islamist terrorists with links to Pakistan have had no visible effect on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which runs a string of offices and safe houses all over Europe.

LTTE representatives are based in more than 50 foreign countries, including virtually all in Europe, which has come under a terror shadow since the outbreak of the US war on Iraq.

The LTTE of course is outlawed in such countries as the US, Britain and India and is under close scrutiny in Canada, Australia and Malaysia.

But even in Britain the Tigers still function though on a low key. Britain is also home to Anton Balasingham, the LTTE's long-time theoretician and a key aide to the group's legendary chief, Velupillai Prabhakaran.

The LTTE opened its first overseas office in London in the early 1980s and at one time Britain was considered the most important foreign country for the group for propaganda and communications.

After the LTTE was accused of assassinating former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, Britain expelled LTTE representative Sathasivan Krishnakumar, alias Kittu. It later declared the LTTE a terrorist group, forcing it to shut down its main office in London.

But LTTE activists have lived on in London and elsewhere in the country almost undisturbed although officials pulled up the Tigers this year after the group jailed a politically connected British Tamil man of Sri Lankan origin in their own lair.

Over the past two decades, LTTE offices have sprung up in scores of countries ranging from Canada to Fiji. In countries such as Switzerland, the LTTE has two or more offices.

Tamil Tiger journals routinely carry photographs of LTTE gatherings in Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Italy.

In recent times, thanks mainly to Norway, the peace facilitator in Sri Lanka, LTTE officials have toured several European countries to interact with officials and policy makers there.

Western diplomats here are not eager to talk about LTTE presence in their countries. "Yes, they have an office in my country," a European diplomat told IANS. "They are not illegal (there)."

An Indian official was more blunt.

"This is typical Western hypocrisy," said the official. "Western countries do not have problems with 'good terrorists', the ones who do not attack them. They only have problems with 'bad terrorists'.

"We have seen even in the Indian context. Since the LTTE does not attack Western interests, they are okay."

The LTTE has a well-trained wing to carry out suicide attacks. It is called Black Tigers, and its members - young men and women - enjoy a pride of place in the guerrilla ranks.

The LTTE's saga of suicide killings began in 1987. After a brief lull, the Tigers unleashed a wave of deadly suicide attacks from 1990, the last of such an attack took place in Colombo last year.

Although the LTTE has not claimed responsibility, LTTE suicide bombers - one woman and one man - were blamed for Rajiv Gandhi's killing and the assassination two years later, in 1993, of Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa.

Indo-Asian News Service

For clarifications/queries, please contact IANS NEWS DESK at
2616-5778/8546, 2617-3369 or mail us at
support@eians.com


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