The Web Sri Lanka In Focus

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

More time to question Tamil three

DETECTIVES were yesterday granted another eight days to question three men suspected of raising funds for a banned terrorist group.

City of Westminster magistrates gave police permission to hold the three men, aged 33, 39 and 46, until next Tuesday. Two of them were arrested in Powys.

They are suspected of raising funds for the Tamil Tigers, who have waged three decades of guerrilla fighting in Sri Lanka.

Police staged a series of early morning raids in Wales and London last Tuesday.

Government officials and senior police officers believe large sums of money are collected in Britain to fund Tamil Tiger attacks.

Members of the group are suspected of credit card fraud and extortion.

The two aged 39 and 46 were arrested at separate addresses in Newtown, and the third man, aged 33, was held in Mitcham, London.

Source: icwales

New fighting in Sri Lanka kills 16 rebels, 2 soldiers

Clashes broke out between government forces and ethnic Tamil separatists across northern Sri Lanka, killing 16 rebels and two soldiers, the military said Tuesday.

In the worst of the fighting Monday, nine rebels were killed during a series of battles in the Vavuniya district, the military said in a statement.

The military also accused the rebels of targeting a leading Buddhist monk in the north with a roadside bomb. The cleric was uninjured, the military said.

Rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan was not immediately available for comment.

It was not possible to independently verify the military's claims because the media are banned from the northern jungles where much of the fighting takes place. Both sides commonly exaggerate their enemy's casualties while underplaying their own.

The military, which has promised to crush the rebels by the end of the year, also said it captured about 1 square kilometer (0.39 sq. mile) of rebel-held territory in the Mannar area.

The Tamil Tigers have been fighting since 1983 for an independent homeland for minority ethnic Tamils, who have been marginalized for decades by governments dominated by the Sinhalese majority. More than 70,000 people have been killed in the fighting.

The newly announced battles broke out as the warring sides fought two other battles in the north. The rebels said they killed eight soldiers in the Muhamalai area Monday and three sailors in Mannar. The government said it killed 10 rebels, while two soldiers were killed and another was missing from the fighting.

Source: gmanews

Tiger leader sought $3M from Canada

RCMP counterterrorism investigators in Toronto have seized a letter signed by the leader of Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers guerrillas directing Canadian Tamils to send him $3-million, according to police files released yesterday by the Federal Court.

The rebel leader's letter, found during a search of the Toronto office of the World Tamil Movement, discusses the need to "intensify the struggle" and ensure that Tamils are "strong enough" to fight "with our full breath," according to the newly unsealed files.

Velupillai Prabhakaran adds that he looks "forward to receiving substantial contribution from the displaced people of Tamil Eelam" and advises the "Canadian office" to provide 15 of the 100 "crores" he needs. A crore is the equivalent of just over $200,000.

The RCMP cited the 2002 letter as evidence the WTM is the "Canadian branch" of the Tamil Tigers, a rebel group fighting a civil war against Sri Lankan government forces. The Tigers want an independent ethnic Tamil state.

Also known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE, the Tigers are an outlawed terrorist group in Canada because of tactics that include suicide bombings and political killings. But many Canadian Tamils say the Tigers are freedom fighters defending the country's ethnic Tamil minority against state terror.

The solicitation from Mr. Prabhakaran is contained in hundreds of pages of materials the RCMP took to a Federal Court judge last month as part of an application to seize the WTM's bank accounts. The judge approved the seizures.

The documents remained sealed until yesterday, although some parts remain blacked out. Last Friday, the courts released documents concerning a related investigation into the WTM office in Montreal.

The documents detailing the Montreal and Toronto terrorist financing investigations (some of which were revealed in the National Post on Saturday and Monday) provide the first indication the Canadian Tamil groups serve as "foreign branches" of the guerrillas, police claim.

The documents also spell out the money trail, showing how the WTM has collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in Quebec and Ontario and shipped it overseas, allegedly to pay for arms and other materials for the Tamil independence struggle -- although WTM officials deny the claims and no charges have been laid.

"As a result of my four-year involvement with this investigation, I believe that the World Tamil Movement is involved in terrorist financing activities in Canada," according to an affidavit by RCMP Corporal DeAnna Hill, a member of the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team in Ontario.

Cpl. Hill says the WTM uses everything from bake sales to the sale of Tamil Tigers paraphernalia to generate money. But the investigation, called Project Osaluki, also uncovered one lucrative "terrorist financing scheme" that targets Canadian Tamils who visit Sri Lanka, she says.

Travelling Canadian Tamils who try to enter Tamil Tigers-held territory in Sri Lanka are taken aside and pressured into signing a pre-authorized payment form allowing the WTM to make a monthly withdrawal from their bank account, the police documents say.

"These persons, out of fear, compliance or empathy, completed a pre-authorized payment form at a checkpoint operated or enforced by the LTTE in Sri Lanka," Cpl. Hill writes. "Upon their return to Canada, these persons were visited by representatives of the World Tamil Movement to exact the collection of the stipend."

Some of the forms were seized by the Canada Border Services Agency. Police also interviewed those who signed them. The close co-operation on the scheme between the LTTE in Sri Lanka and WTM in Toronto shows an "inextricable link" between the two, she says.

"Moreover, I believe this sequence of events provides irrefutable evidence that the World Tamil Movement acts on behalf of the LTTE in Canada and participates in active fundraising for the LTTE."

The Canadian government outlawed terrorist financing in 2001. The investigation into the WTM Toronto branch began on April 22, 2002, and climaxed with a police raid in 2006.

The case, together with the related probe in Montreal, marks the first time Canadian police have gone to court to seize real estate and bank accounts because of alleged involvement in terrorist financing.

Source: nationalpost