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 Post subject: The Deadly Mahasohon Brigade
 Post Posted: Tue Jul 24, 2007 8:42 pm 
The Deadly Mahasohon Brigade

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DN / July 2007, Colombo

Mahasohona is a demon in Sinhalese folklore. Hence Mahasohon Brigade literally means Demon’s Brigade. Several years ago (just before the CFA agreement was signed), mysterious incidents began to happen in the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) controlled territory. Unexplained claymore mine explosions took place near tiger safe houses and sometimes even inside their own bases. Some of these explosions targeted senior LTTE leaders. One bomb exploded near a safe house which was used by the LTTE leader himself. Tiger air wing leader (who was the right hand man of LTTE leadership at that time), Shankar was killed in one such explosion. Terror spread through LTTE bases and the most surprising thing was that no one knew what was going on. Even the media, who always had inside information about everything, couldn’t explain these mysterious incidents. It was speculated that the cause of these explosions was an internal conflict of LTTE.

Little did the tigers know (and the media) that a deep penetration unit of the Sri Lankan army had infiltrated tiger defense lines and were operating deep inside enemy territory. These elite units were known as the LRRP (Long Range Recon Patrol or "Digu Dura Wihidum Balakaya" in Sinhalese). They were better known in the military by the name "Mahasohon Brigade". Mahasona is a fierce demon who is mentioned in Srilankan folklore. This unit was so named because it gave LTTE what Mahasona in folklore was famous for; the element of fear. Activity of this unit was one of the main reasons tigers agreed for peace talks.

All was well until a traitor to the motherland named Kulasiri Udugampola, driven by greed and political powers, raided LRRP safe house in Millennium City. He released a list of names of those who were involved in the operations which the media published without hesitation. This helped the LTTE to hunt down the heroic units one by one, under the cover of the CFA. More than 80 LRRP personnel were assassinated by the LTTE. For the next 6 years, there was no news of this unit making it an element of the past.

Few days before the mass ground troop movement to the recently captured Vakarai region began. During one night, 10 different claymore mines exploded in 10 different locations in then LTTE held territory, targeting regional leaders and tiger foot patrols. This caused the LTTE regional leader Swarnam (wounded by an airstrike) flee into the jungles of Trikonamadu. After Vakarai, several unexplained explosions went off in rebel bases in the north. Several more claymores struck sea tiger base supply routes. LRRP has returned.

Reformed LRRP unit is now a part of 3rd Special Forces regiment. Since reformation, it's been able to carry out several successful strikes at critical tiger movements not only in the east but even 25kms inside rebel held Mullathiv jungles. There is no doubt that the tiger leaders are already feeling the fiery heat of the "Mahasohon brigade".


Related:
1) Kulasiri Udugampola - A traitor of the nation and the state


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 Post subject: A DMI Long Ranger speaks out
 Post Posted: Sun Feb 10, 2008 6:46 pm 
A DMI Long Ranger speaks out

@ ST / 10th February 2002

Despite the calm in battle areas, and the nation's attention focused on the upcoming peace talks, the intelligence community was jolted into action this week.

A warning went out that a group of Tiger guerrillas had arrived in the city from Batticaloa. Their mission – to carry out reconnaissance to identify members of the now well known Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols (LRRP), or deep penetration groups, that have carried out attacks inside guerrilla dominated territory.

Since a "cessation of hostilities" between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is now in force, the task of the group, a senior Intelligence official says, is not to carry out assassinations. He believes it is to identify those responsible, their addresses and other details. "They want to be ready to take on those targets if an opportunity arises," he adds.

He may be right in his assessment. But that is not to say that in the past the LTTE has not carried out attacks when a ceasefire or "cessation of hostilities" has been in force.

On July 13, 1989, the leader of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF), and then Parliamentarian Appapillai Amirthalingam, was assassinated by an armed group. This occurred when President Ranasinghe Premadasa was locked in peace talks with the LTTE. The latter strongly denied allegations that its cadres were involved.

That phase of the negotiations broke down in June, 1990 triggering off "Eelam War Two." Later, Anton Balasingham, now LTTE's chief negotiator, admitted publicly that the guerrillas had assassinated Mr. Amirthalingam. That came during talks which were bi-lateral. However, this time, Norway is playing the role of a facilitator and has obtained assurances, both from the Government and the guerrillas, not only to ensure the truce holds but also to formally incorporate it into a full fledged ceasefire agreement.

But the reason for the presence of the guerrilla group from the east in Colombo is the direct outcome of the Police raid on the Army's Safe House at Athurugiriya on January 2. The sequence of events that followed was to formally confirm the existence of Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols and their activities.

Operations by LRRPs, or deep penetration groups, is not confined only to a single apparatus in the Army. There are in fact three distinct units, each specialising in infiltrating enemy lines and carrying out devastating attacks. But only the activities of the Army's Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI), one of the organs that directed and controlled LRRP operations, came to light following the raid on the Safe House at Athurugiriya. This was a "rear base" for the DMI's long range patrol units. They also had "forward operations bases" in secret locations in the east from where they ventured out to take targets in guerrilla held areas.

In the coming weeks, the Supreme Court, the nation's highest judicial institution, will hear details about how the DMI's long range patrols operated, how they took on targets and continued to maintain secrecy until the ill conceived Police raid on the Safe House blew it all. An officer and four soldiers have filed different Fundamental Rights violation petitions where they have given hitherto top secret details of how they operated and what happened to them. Some of the highlights in the petitions appeared in The Sunday Times last week though names of those involved were withheld in view of the serious security threats it would pose them. However, some sections of the media, of course unwittingly, gave the names of those concerned when reporting that they had filed petitions in the Supreme Court.

While the cases of the DMI's heroes are awaiting hearings from the Supreme Court, Tiger guerrillas have embarked on a massive witch hunt to round up those helping the LRRP team of DMI. At least three of them have been summarily executed. That included a boatman, who under cover of darkness, helped ferry LRRP teams across a river in Manmunai (Batticaloa) to guerrilla controlled areas. Hundreds of families in uncontrolled areas in the Batticaloa district are being questioned by guerrilla cadres to ascertain whether they helped the LRRP teams. Those identified face instant death. It is in this backdrop that the guerrilla group from Batticaloa has entered the City.

The actions of two specialised Army apparatus dealing with Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols still remain a top secret. Some of their prized achievements, which are bold and daring, cannot be revealed. However, in the case of the DMI, the activities of its own LRRP teams have become privy to the LTTE after the raid on the Safe House at Athurugiriya. In the coming weeks, more details will become public when the Supreme court begins hearings. How does the Military Intelligence directorate's LRRP teams operate ? How have they acquired targets ? What are the dangers they face ?

The answers came in an exclusive The Sunday Times interview with a member of the LRRP team. He spoke on grounds of strict anonymity. For obvious reasons, some of the remarks he made had to be withheld. Yet the story he related rings true to the motto of Britain's Special Air Services (SAS), one of the world's most elitist commando units - Who Dares Wins.

He sat in the front seat of a double cab. The stubble on his face shows he had not shaved for a couple of weeks. The muscular arms betrayed his identity.

He keeps thumping on the dashboard every now and then. At times he is restless. He could not stretch his long legs. He places his right leg on the seat to feel comfortable but soon takes it off to look outside. He seems alert to something which he fears would happen. We are on the edge of a football field, just off a main road near a construction company. It seems it was instinct, the survival techniques they are taught.

I asked him to relate one of his forays. I have chosen to identify him only by one of the call signs he used on an assignment which is unrelated to this story. "Golf Whisky," was given a task by the Directorate of Military Intelligence last year. Together with two colleagues, he left the Army Camp at Vavunativu near Batticaloa. Having dodged minefields during a delicate trek in the night, they arrived at dawn in a jungle patch. They remained there for the whole day and did not venture out for fear of detection. They used long range binoculars to see movement of people including guerrilla cadres and survived on ration packs. At night, just past 10 p.m., they moved out.

Using Night Vision Devices (NVD), they trekked towards an area where they were to accomplish their mission. They had been well briefed, not only on the target but also on the terrain. "We moved with our back packs and weapons all throughout the night. Before dawn, we always found a place to hide. It has not been easy. On one occasion, we were worried after seeing a group of civilians. But they thought we were LTTE men, "Golf Whisky" said.

It was November 17, last year, when we took up position near a mound after placing claymore mines in the direction of a road. It was almost late evening when they spotted a double cab coming along. There were some seated inside. Behind, in the cab area, at least two guerrilla cadres carrying weapons were watching either side of the road. Suddenly, the claymore mine exploded throwing the double cab, now a wreck, off the road. From a distance it looked mangled. "We managed to move back and spent the night in a thicket. We knew that we had hit an LTTE vehicle. That was all we knew as we began our trek to base," he said.

Spending a night in an area which had a thick outgrowth, "Golf Whisky" and his two colleagues settled down to another meal. This was also from the ration pack. One slept whilst the other two took turns watching. Sleep was restricted to less than an hour or so but "Golf Whisky" says "we cannot enjoy that sleep. We are conscious somebody can ambush and kill us. It is more a case of keeping our eyes shut. But that helps," he adds.

It was only after they returned to base that they discovered they had accomplished their target. "Major Mano" or "Oscar" (his radio call sign) was killed. "Major Mano" was a key guerrilla cadre. During security forces operations in the North, he was the man tasked to monitor all SF communications. He was also one of a handful of guerrilla leaders consulted by LTTE leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, when major attacks were planned.

"Major Mano" had not only undergone basic guerrilla training but has also been taught radio communications.

At the time he was killed, he was the guerrilla in charge of LTTE communications network in the east. He had been fluent in English, Sinhala and Tamil. Intercepts of radio conversations prior to the attack showed that he was so fluent in Sinhala that he pronounced words in such a way it gave the impression he was a Sinhalese.

"We only saw the claymore mine explode damaging the vehicle. Confirmation of "Major Mano's death came later during both radio intercepts and on the Tamilnet website," said "Golf Whisky."

"Major Mano" was a close associate of LTTE's leader for the east, Karuna. He had been involved in countering security forces offensives during "Operation Riviresa" and "Operation Jaya Sikurui." Following the guerrilla seizure of Elephant Pass, he had moved to the east. As the man in charge of communications network in the East, he had been responsible for jamming security forces radio communications periodically.

"There are successes and there are frustrations too," says "Golf Whisky." In July, last year, they were tasked to take on the LTTE military wing leader for Batticaloa district, "Jim Kelly." They trekked guerrilla dominated terrain for seven days in this operation in Batticaloa south. They waited for their quarry to arrive but he did not turn up. They were forced to abandon mission and return to base. On another occasion in September last year, they waited for another target to arrive in a location in Batticaloa north. Three days after they had moved in, just at the time the man was expected, very heavy rains broke out. Visibility became poor and there was no sign of any vehicle. They were forced to return to base.

One of their prize achievements, "Golf Whisky" boasts took place on June 6 last year. This was when they launched a claymore mine attack on "Lt. Col. Nizam" alias November Mike (his radio call sign) in Kokkadicholai. He was the military intelligence wing leader of the LTTE for the Eastern province and masterminded almost all the major guerrilla suicide missions in Colombo. That included the suicide bomber attack on then Minister of Industrial Development, C.V. Gooneratne, at the Ratmalana junction on June 9, 2000. "Lt.Col. Nizam" was a senior LTTE cadre who received training in a base in India. The string of electricity transformer explosions in various parts of Sri Lanka, including the City and attacks on telecommunications installations had been planned and directed by this former Eastern province intelligence wing leader.

On November 26 last year, the LRRP team ventured into Pulipanchakal. Here too it carried out a claymore mine attack killing two senior members of the LTTE mortar group in Batticaloa, "Major Swarnaseelan" and "Captain Devadas." They were later identified as specialists in handling 81 mm and 120 mm mortars. This was followed by another attack on December 3, last year. Though a top LTTE cadre was expected, the claymore mine exploded when an Isuzu Elf vehicle was passing by It killed three guerrillas.

What would you say is your most unforgettable experience, I asked "Golf Whisky." He smiled and paused for a long while. I asked whether it was a secret. "No," he replied. "The target was so near, so close. Then the unexpected happened," he said striking his hand hard on the double cab dashboard. He did not hide his frustration.

It was December 21, last year. Two LRRP teams from the DMI had been tasked to take on two important targets. If successful, they would have been their biggest accomplishment. But it was not to be.

One LRRP team went behind guerrilla lines in Kokkadicholai (Batticaloa bowl) whilst the other slipped into "Beirut," (Batticaloa Central) known to be one of the major LTTE bases in the east. Their targets ? LTTE's Military Commander for the East, Karuna and one of his close confidantes, Ramesh. They had entrenched themselves in a secret location and were ready.

The men had spent almost five days, sleeping in jungle areas during day and trekking during the night.

On December 24, last year, their encrypted radio communication set crackled. It was orders from the Directorate of Military Intelligence to abort mission and return to base. The reason – the LTTE had announced a "cessation of hostilities" and the Government had decided to reciprocate.

"The return journey was very troublesome," says "Golf Whisky." There were at least two different occasions when they feared they would be spotted. The third time, they had to divert course after a woman spotted them. "We were not sure whether she identified us or whether she thought we were LTTE. We did not want to take a chance. We had to divert course and this took a long time," he said.

There are occasions when we have been spotted. In one such instance, we had to radio the nearest Police Special Task Force (STF) base. "We gave details of our location. Mortars began to rain ahead of us. That helped us to make a hasty retreat," said "Golf Whisky".

On December 27, the men returned to their Safe House in Athurugiriya. Some of the weapons they carried from there to another "forward operations" Safe House somewhere in Batticaloa were returned. Others remained at Athurugiriya when the Kandy Police headed by SP Kulasiri Udugampola, raided the premises.

The weapons they took were from five different military installations – Army Headquarters, Panagoda, Kosgama, Kadawata and Maradana. They had to be accounted, documented and returned to the officers who issued them. Some also had to be returned to the Regimental Headquarters of the Military Intelligence Regiment.

One of the reasons for the delay was the lack of a typewriter at the Safe House at Athurugiriya. The document had to be therefore prepared at an Army camp in Kohuwala. It began on December 29, last year. The next day was a Sunday. Hence, the preparation of documents was concluded on December 31. Since January 1, 2002, was declared a half holiday by the Army, they were to be returned during the following days. But the raid came on January 2.

I asked "Golf Whisky" whether he had encountered difficult moments. His mood changed and the smile on his face faded away. The soft heart behind the tough man began to show when he appeared choked with emotion. "I lost a good friend during an LRRP operation," he says. What happened ? "He was caught red handed by the Tigers with a claymore mine in his hand. This compromised his mission. The man was tortured," he said in soft tones.

"They hung the claymore mine with a rope around his neck and paraded him many times before civilians. Thereafter, he was shot dead," said "Golf Whisky." Was he a regular soldier or a former guerrilla cadre now enlisted to Army ranks ? "I am sorry I cannot tell you that. All I can say is that he was a very good friend. He has saved my life during an LRRP operation. I am sad to miss him," he added.

That speaks a lot for a breed of men whose grit and determination is little known. But their tales have now become a public secret after the ill conceived Police raid, which none other than Defence Minister, Tilak Marapana, has described was a publicity stunt.


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 Post subject: LRRP infiltration demolishes impregnable Tiger terrain myth
 Post Posted: Tue Dec 30, 2008 5:14 pm 
LRRP infiltration demolishes impregnable Tiger terrain myth

Fundamentally, the LRRP teams were a combination of disgruntled ex-Tigers, members of anti-Tiger Tamil groups, Muslim militants and carefully selected Sinhala personnel. They were given highly specialised ‘Commando’ type training here and abroad. The first phase of LRRP operations commenced in 2001 in both the northern and eastern Tiger-controlled regions.

@ D.B.S. Jeyaraj / Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The war between the Government of Sri Lanka armed forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) cadres has been conventional as well as unconventional.

A significant feature of the unconventional war fought by the government is the deployment of deep penetration assassination squads, known as Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols (LRRP).

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Parliamentarian Kittinan Sivanesan (51) was killed in a claymore mine explosion last week in the Kanagrayankulam region of the northern mainland, known as the Wanni. The area was under the control of the LTTE.

The LTTE accused the Army’s Deep Penetration Unit (DPU) of being responsible. This was promptly denied. Interestingly, the LTTE refers to the LRRP squads as DPU for some reason.

Instrument of war
The assassination of Sivanesan has once again focused the spotlight on the LRRP/DPU phenomenon that is becoming a crucial factor in the current war.

The LRRP became an instrument of war of the armed forces since the turn of this century. Basic modus operandi of the LRRP is for small groups to clandestinely infiltrate territory controlled by the LTTE and target senior Tiger leaders and key operatives. This is done in two ways.

One is to infiltrate Tiger territory through jungle routes, conduct an operation and return. Sometimes the operatives stay in safe houses within LTTE-controlled areas for days to do this. On other occasions they camp in the jungles and lie in wait for several hours to take on their target.

The usual method is to explode claymore mines with remote devices. In some instances timers have been used. Pressure mines too have been used on a few occasions. It is presumed that these attacks are planned and executed on the strength of precise intelligence.

The other method has been to co-opt civilians living in the Wanni to ‘plant’ mines and target Tiger leaders. This is done through bribery and coercion. In some cases, some LTTE oppressed civilians nursing a grudge against the Tigers have become willing tools.

The usage of hit squads to assassinate the enemy has been practised by different states and different armies in different situations. Despite the ‘heroic glamour’ surrounding these teams, they are, in essence, glorified assassination squads.

‘Legitimately’ sanctioned ‘illegitimate’ operatives.
Therefore, legitimate states and governments do not like to claim credit for these operations. Those involved in such operations are ‘legitimately’ sanctioned ‘illegitimate’ operatives.

Since they are usually controlled by Intelligence officials, these operatives are like spies in enemy territory. If successful they are rewarded ‘quietly’ within the organisational structure. If they fail or are caught in the act, they are disowned. They are ‘heroes’ who cannot be honoured publicly.

Propagandists may try and project these operations as romantic adventures but by their intrinsic nature, they fall under the ‘covert warfare’ category. So officially these acts are not publicised and are usually unacknowledged or denied.

There are other reasons too for keeping these operations and particulars of those involved under wraps. Those engaged in such operations do not want to publicise it because of concern that they or their loved ones may be victimised if identities are exposed.

The other is that those residents in enemy territory who were collaborating with the hit squads may be rendered vulnerable if more details were publicised. In addition, there is the danger of the enemy gaining insight into the methods used if too much publicity is given.

All these reasons necessitate an environment of secrecy around such clandestine operations. Globally, this is the usual practice.

This was how Sri Lanka too conducted these operations in the beginning, during the Chandrika Kumaratunga regime. When Tiger leaders were being targeted and the LTTE began accusing state backed DPUs, the government officially denied responsibility. Instead, state propaganda blamed internal squabbles within the LTTE.

It was the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) of 2002 which first ‘admitted’ officially to the existence of the LRRP by stating in the CFA that all such activity would cease.

Then came the bizarre drama where a so-called ‘safe house” of the LRRP was raided in Millennium City, Athurugiriya, and five occupants were arrested. After protracted wrangling, they were released.

Balagalle’s brainchild
It is said that the LRRP was a brainchild of former Army Commander Lionel Balagalle, who had conceived the project earlier as the Head of Military Intelligence. The green light was given during Kumaratunga’s second presidential term.

When the LRRP teams came into existence, three different agencies were involved in setting them up and running them.

Fundamentally, the LRRP teams were a combination of disgruntled ex-Tigers, members of anti-Tiger Tamil groups, Muslim militants and carefully selected Sinhala personnel. They were given highly specialised ‘Commando’ type training here and abroad.

The first phase of LRRP operations commenced in 2001 in both the northern and eastern Tiger-controlled regions.

Among those killed in the east were LTTE Batticaloa District Intelligence Head Lt. Col Nizam, LTTE Batticaloa-Ampara Communications Chief Major Mano and artillery specialists Major Sathiyaseelan and Capt. Thevathasan. Among those killed in the north were LTTE Air Wing Head Col. Shankar and Sea Tiger Commander Lt. Col Kangai Amaran.

Of those who narrowly escaped death at the hands of the LRRP in the north then were former Political Commissar Brig. Suppiah Paramu Thamilselvan (twice), his Deputy Major S. Thangan, Vavuniya Special Commander Col. Jeyam and Deputy Military Chief Col. Balraj.

Of those who escaped death in the east were former Regional Chief Col. Karuna, Eastern Political Commissar Karikalan, Jeyanthan Regiment Chief Jim Kelly Thatha and Regional Intelligence Chief Lt. Col. Ramaan.

LTTE out for blood
LRRP activity was shelved after the ceasefire. Most of the Tamil LRRP operatives had been absorbed into Army ranks. The LTTE was out for their blood. Some of these men were allegedly betrayed to the LTTE by influential persons for large amounts of money.

On January 16, 2002, V. Vidyarathan, alias ‘Mike,’ head of the Paramilitary Intelligence Unit of the Army’s LRRP was seized by the LTTE and executed four days later . On February 10, 2002, Lance Corporal “Clarry” was abducted and killed by the Tigers.

On July 3, 2002, Lance Corporal Saundrarajan was captured by the LTTE and later killed. On December 11, 2002, Corporal Ganeshamoorthi, alias Thilakaraj, was killed. Lance Corporal Pulendrarasa was killed on January 3, 2003. Corporal Kadirgamathamby Ragupathi, alias Ragu, was shot dead in Colombo on March 18, 2003.

On April 26, 2003, Lance Corporal Kalirasa Devarasa was killed by the LTTE in Dehiwala, just 45 minutes after leaving the Army Transition Camp at Kohuwala. Lance Corporal Paramanathan Ravindrakumar was shot on July 15, 2003 but survived the attack.

Apart from these Tamil LRRP operatives, the Tigers also targeted important members of the Tamil armed groups collaborating with the Army and described by the LTTE as paramilitaries.

Sinnathambi Ranjan alias Varadan who led a breakaway TELO group working with the Army was shot dead at Aaraiyampathy.

More importantly PLOTE Mohan, who led the PLOTE faction, working with the security forces, was shot dead in Colombo.

Razeek, the chief of the EPRLF faction, working with the Army, was killed by the LTTE during the war itself when a suicide bomber targeted him in Batticaloa town.

LRRP renaissance
It appeared that the LRRP was now toothless as the key Tamil operatives who knew Tiger terrain and acted as guides, pathfinders, safe house providers and information gatherers were either eliminated or had fled abroad. But the LRRP concept experienced a renaissance when the ceasefire unravelled.

The election of Mahinda Rajapaksa as President and the appointment of Sarath Fonseka as Army Chief and Gotabhaya Rajapaksa as Defence Secretary brought about a qualitative change in the security situation. With the LTTE playing into Colombo’s hands, a determined no-holds-barred war effort was underway.

The revival of the LRRP was a key element in this new war strategy. Some of the hibernating old timers were recalled. Fresh input was gained through the induction of the LTTE breakaway faction headed by Karuna. Some other northern LTTE deserters were also inducted.

The PLOTE, possessing some clout in Vavuniya, also contributed some input. Above all, there were now several highly trained ‘Sinhala’ operatives with knowledge and experience of the jungle terrain.

The usage of LRRP squads became a powerful weapon in the security force arsenal. Recent events indicate that these squads have developed into killing machines of devastating efficiency.

These ‘new’ LRRP teams have been in operation for quite some time now. There have been successes and failures and also ‘un-claimable successes.’

Tit for tat
Chief among the claimed successes was the killing of LTTE Military Intelligence Head Shanmuganathan Ravichandran alias Col. Arulvendhan, a.k.a. Charles, who was killed in Mannar District on January 5, this year.
Apart from this, the LRRP has targeted several other LTTE leaders too. One of those targeted and injured was Lt. Col. Kumaran, who was manning defences in the Manal Aaru/Weli Oya region.

There have been also incidents where civilians have been victimised through LRRP activity.

In most cases these were ‘accidents,’ though there are a few deliberate acts perpetrated as tit for tat. Meeting terror by terror is part of this government’s counter-terrorism strategy.

For instance, a school bus carrying schoolgirls was targeted in Mannar as revenge for the LTTE attacking a bus with schoolchildren in Moneragala.

Likewise, the killing of the TNA’s Sivanesan on the way to Mallavi can be construed as quid pro quo for D.M. Dassanayake’s killing on the way to Kotte. But these acts, though ‘successful,’ will always be ‘un-claimable’ and denied due to politically negative consequences.

There have also been instances where ambulance vehicles were targeted by LRRP groups. Apparently, there was method in this madness, as the LTTE was using ambulances to transport key leaders.

There was also the incident where a vehicle carrying women and children was land-mined near Silavathurai in Mannar when a military operation was in progress. This vehicle too belonged to a Tiger leader but tragically, many of his relatives were using it to flee the area.

LTTE under strain
The LTTE is under severe strain due to LRRP activity. One reason for LRRP successes is growing resentment within Wanni residents against the LTTE. Some are clandestinely helping the LRRP. The LTTE Intelligence Division is trying hard to check this and hundreds of Tamils were detained and interrogated.

In one case an entire family was executed on charges of accommodating LRRP members at their house. In another instance the father of a ‘Maaveerar’ (great hero) LTTE martyr was punished for allegedly being in possession of explosive devices.

The LRRP attacks, along with the precise aerial bombardment of high profile LTTE targets, have caused a sea of change in the LTTE way of life in the Wanni. Routes are changed frequently and no longer do important leaders travel in convoys. Clearing of routes is also done as much as possible.

The ‘Ellai Padai’ (border force) civilian militia, along with women’s brigades and Leopard Commando Units, are used to guard the borders. The extent of the area and jungle terrain makes these borders porous.

LTTE media organs used to mock leaders in Colombo for their elaborate security precautions and projected an image that they were living in fear. With the situation being reversed, many LTTE leaders are now resorting to drastic security measures and precautions for reasons of personal safety.

Underestimation
In a bid to stave off charges of LRRP complicity in the killing of Sivanesan, some defenders of the state have argued that it happened 22 miles to the north of Army control lines and was therefore impossible. These defenders, in their zeal to deny state responsibility, are actually underestimating LRRP capabilities.

In recent times there have been many LRRP operations deep in the interior of LTTE territory. This was the case when the LRRP was in its initial phase of 2001 too.

It must be remembered that the successful attack on Col. Shankar happened in Tiger heartland along the Oddusuddan-Puthukudiyiruppu Road in Mullaitivu District. Lt. Col Kangai Amaran was killed in Aanaivilunthaan in Mannar District near Akkarayankulam in the Kilinochchi District. The unsuccessful attack on S.P. Thamilselvan happened in Kokkavil in Kilinochchi District. Compared to those, the Sivanesan incident occurred comparatively ‘closer’ in the Vavuniya District.

The current reality is that LRRP squads can proceed deep into Tiger territory from either the Mannar mainland jungles or the Manal Aaru /Weli Oya region jungles. They can also proceed parallel to the A9 highway on either side via jungle routes.

Those familiar with Wanni areas say that there are several footpaths and elephant trails crisscrossing the jungles that can be used, so LRRP teams going in deep is not impossible.

Demolishing the myth
What is happening now is that the invincibility myth surrounding the Tigers is being eroded. Also, the LRRP successes are demolishing the myth about LTTE terrain being impregnable. But the man who made a mockery of Tiger territory impregnability was none other than former Deputy Defence Minister Anuruddha Ratwatte.

His helicopter crash-landed inside Tiger terrain more than a decade ago. Ratwatte, with his walking stick, and his service chiefs, walked eight miles to Army Forward Defence Lines (FDLs) safely.

It was then that the image of Tiger terrain impregnability was shattered first. Now, with successful LRRP operations, myth demolition continues.



(D.B.S. Jeyaraj can be reached at djeyaraj@federalidea.com)

Quote 1
Fundamentally, the LRRP teams were a combination of disgruntled ex-Tigers, members of anti-Tiger Tamil groups, Muslim militants and carefully selected Sinhala personnel. They were given highly specialised ‘Commando’ type training here and abroad. These ‘new’ LRRP teams have been in operation for quite some time now. There have been successes and failures and also ‘un-claimable successes.’…Legitimate states and governments do not like to claim credit for these operations. Those involved in such operations are ‘legitimately’ sanctioned ‘illegitimate’ operatives. …If successful they are rewarded ‘quietly’ within the organisational structure. If they fail or are caught in the act, they are disowned. They are ‘heroes’ who cannot be honoured publicly. Propagandists may try and project these operations as romantic adventures but by their intrinsic nature, they fall under the ‘covert warfare’ category. So officially these acts are not publicised and are usually unacknowledged or denied. All these reasons necessitate an environment of secrecy around such clandestine operations. Globally, this is the usual practice.


Quote 2
The LTTE is under severe strain due to LRRP activity. One reason for LRRP successes is growing resentment within Wanni residents against the LTTE. Some are clandestinely helping the LRRP. The LTTE Intelligence Division is trying hard to check this and hundreds of Tamils were detained and interrogated. In one case an entire family was executed on charges of accommodating LRRP members at their house. In another instance the father of a ‘Maaveerar’ (great hero) LTTE martyr was punished for allegedly being in possession of explosive devices.


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 Post subject: Tigers crack Mike mystery
 Post Posted: Tue Dec 30, 2008 6:44 pm 
Tigers crack Mike mystery

@ LL / Source: Sunday Times - Sunday February 01, 2004

From June to December 2001, The men from the Army's Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI), operating in Batticaloa and Amparai, had attacked several targets within Tiger guerrilla dominated areas in the two districts. As one leader after another fell victim, fear had gripped the guerrilla leadership. The six month period was most hectic for men from the Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols (LRRPs). It rose to fever pitch levels after Karikalan, the Political Wing leader for Batticaloa, escaped an LRRP attack on October 18, 2001.

There was one man who was responsible for all the panic. His name was a closely guarded secret. Only the head of the LRRP team, Captain S.H. Mohamed Nilam dealt with him. He knew the man only as Mike. It was Mike who in turn liaised with a network of operatives as well as informants, including one time guerrilla cadres, in the Batticaloa and Amparai districts. He liaised with the LRRP team. Together they had set off the worst fear psychosis and panic.

on January 2, 2002, a Police team led by then SP (Special Operations) in the Kandy district, Kulasiri Udugampola, conducted a raid on the DMI's Safe House in the Millennium City in Athurugiriya. Captain Nilam and his men, the LRRP team, were transported under Police guard and placed in remand cells of the Kandy Police together with common criminal suspects.
They had been arrested as terrorist suspects.

One man who was closely watching these developments in the guerrilla dominated Wanni was LTTE's intelligence boss, Pottu Amman. He ordered his intelligence cadres to crack down on operatives and informants helping the DMI. Later on, Pottu Amman travelled to Batticaloa to personally over see the "elimination" of all those who were "collaborating" with the Army.

On January 16, 2002 guerrilla intelligence cadres launched a secret operation in the Batticaloa town. They abducted V. Vidyarathan. He was taken to a hideout in the guerrilla dominated Kokkadicholai area. He was subjected to torture and intense interrogation for four days. The man cracked under heavy pressure and pain. He confessed he was Mike and had been helping Captain Nilam and his LRRP team. He was shot dead on January 20.

It saw the beginning of a campaign of arrest, interrogate and kill. On February 10, Lance Corporal "Clarry" was abducted in a secret operation in Chenkalady in Batticaloa. Soon, details of how agent Mike worked with Captain Nilam began to unfold. LTTE Intelligence cadres and pistol gangs fanned out from Batticaloa to mount surveillance on the names of the operatives and informants that had emerged. Similar exercises were also carried out in Batticaloa and Amparai districts.

By July, 2002, Tiger guerrillas had obtained a fuller picture of the LRRP operations and how they were conducted with the help of Mike. On July 3, 2002 guerrilla cadres abducted Lance Corporal Saundrarajan, a key operative who had taken part in an abortive attack on "Jim Kelly," an LTTE cadre. He had also taken part in the attack on guerrilla area leader Babu on September 17, 2001 and the abortive attempt on Karikalan. He had also later taken part in the ambush and attack on two other guerrillas, Swarnaseelan and Devadas on November 26, 2001.

By December, 2002, guerrilla intelligence cadres had tracked down some of those assisting the LRRP and were moved from the East to Colombo. On December 11, 2002, the first informant, Ganesha Moorthy alias Thilakaraj was shot dead by a pistol group. This was followed by the murder on January 3, 2003, of Lance Corporal Pulendrarasa. He was an operative who had worked closely with Mike. Another close associate of Mike, Kadirgamathamby Ragupathi alias Ragu was shot dead on March 18, 2003.

Neither the Security Forces nor the Police were able to launch any cordon and search operations to track down the Tiger guerrilla intelligence operatives or the pistol gangs. They had not only infiltrated the City but were operating with impunity. The UNF Government did not to want to order any crackdown on their activity for fear that the Ceasefire Agreement with the LTTE would be affected.

The guerrillas continued their witch hunt. On April 2, 2003, Sinnathambi Ranjan alias Varadan, who worked closely with Mike was shot dead. On April 26 of the same year, Lance Corporal Devarasa, an operative who took part in LRRP operations and worked closely with Mike was shot dead. He had left a military camp where he was living for reasons of security to visit his family in Dehiwala when the incident occurred.

In the wake of these killings, requests made by state intelligence agencies to senior officials in the then Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Interior to launch a comprehensive "search and clear" operation in the City were not heeded. This was after intelligence reports that guerrillas had increased their Safe Houses and smuggled in more military hardware into them.

A guerrilla pistol gang, who had conducted surveillance and kept following Lance Corporal Paramanthan Ravindrakumar trapped him at a City intersection. They poured six bullets into his body on July 15, 2003, wounding him seriously. He survived after surgery and was moved to a safe location thereafter.

Amidst public controversy and rising number of incidents in the killing of operatives as well as informants, President Chandrika Bandarnaike Kumaratunga appointed a Commission of Inquiry to probe the Safe House fiasco. It was headed by retired Appeal Court Judge D. Jayawickrema.The Commission held that the raid was a "total betrayal and absolute treachery to the nation." The Commission report listed the names of those responsible for the omissions and commissions in the Army and the Police.

The senior most officer in the Army to be dealt with by the Commander, Lt. Gen. Lionel Balagalle, was the Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Ivan Dassanayake. The Army Commander ordered General Dassanayake a pre-mature retirement from March 31, 2004, on the charges for not informing the Army Commander about the raid.

Colonel Parakrama Dissanayake, the Deputy Commandant of the Army Training Centre Diyatalawa and Major Najith Karunaratne, Head of Military Intelligence in Jaffna were relegated to civilian status from January 30, 2004 after being stripped of their commissioned ranks in the Army. Colonel Dissanayake was the former Commanding Officer of the Military Intelligence Corps and a staff officer at the Directorate of Military Intelligence at the time of the Safe House raid. The 2 officers were charged for attempting to obtain the Safe House address.

Commission disclosed the fact that Lt. Col. Padmasiri Udugampola, SLCMP, brother of ASP Kulasiri Udugampola, Major General Ivan Dassanayake and Colonel K.H.N.S.S. Dharmaratna, Major A.C.A. de Soysa, SLCMP, Major A.S.P. Podiralahamy, SLCMP, Major K.U. Jayanetti, SLCMP, Major B.M.A.N.S.K. Karunaratne MIC Corps, J.H.A.P. de Silva, JHAT-MIC, Corp. M.P.A. Peiris, JHAT-MIC were all aware of the impending raid and have directly and indirectly assisted Kulasiri Udugampola in raiding this Safe House.

"If these officers had any doubts about the Safe House they should have brought it to the notice of the Army Commander and moved the Military Police to investigate. But these officers, without doing so, have conspired with Kulasiri Udugampola to raid this Safe House for their own personal benefits. Moreover, none of these officers have informed the Army Commander or the Director, DMI, about the raid before the raid." Commission reported.

The Supreme Court, the nation's highest judicial body, has ruled that the fundamental rights of Captain Nilam and his LRRP team, were violated by Mr Udugampola. He has been ordered to pay within three months a sum of Rs 50,000 each to five of the LRRP operatives. The State has been ordered to pay Rs 750,000 each for them.

In 2005, Kulasiri Udugampola was indicted with 19 counts in Kandy High court by the Attorney General. The charges include revealing secrets useful to enemies of the state violating the Official Secrets Act, arresting and detaining seven Army officials for three days and making false accusations against them and many others.

High Court Judge DSC Lekamwasam released the accused on bail in the sum of Rs. 10,000 and two personal bail of Rs. 100,000. The Judge ordered the police to take finger prints of Kulasiri Udugampola and ordered him not to travel abroad without court’s permission.


Related:
1) Kulasiri Udugampola - A traitor of the nation and the state


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