Sri Lankan Tamil to stand alone in US trial
Another accused in the second sting operation against the Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE), the Singaporean arms dealer Haniffa Bin
Osman pleaded guilty, United States Attorney Rod Rosenstein said in a
Isolating the only Sri Lanka Tamil accused in this case all others by
now have pleaded guilty.
Four Indonesians and Osman have so far pleaded in this case arising
out of a sting operation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with the
US Customs in which six people have been charged for conspiring to
smuggle sophisticated weapons to a group listed as foreign terrorist
group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam. The 55 year old Singaporean
became the latest person to plead guilty in this case.
"The disruption of the supply chain of this organisation should
reassure the public that the US government is committed to dismantling
terrorist groups worldwide," said FBI special agent William Chase. All
face long jail terms.
A Sri Lankan Tamil who is the sixth person in this case,
Thirunavukarasu Varatharasa, is scheduled to go on trial next month on
charges of conspiracy, attempting to export arms, money laundering and
illegal possession of weapons.
"Keeping sophisticated US weapons from falling into the hands of
terrorists has never been more important," said James Dinkins, special
agent for the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Baltimore.
"This three-year undercover investigation...highlights the reach and
impact of international arms trafficking."
The Tamil Tigers, another name for the LTTE have been listed as a
foreign terrorist organisation by the United States since 1997.
US attorney Rod Rosenstein said the Singaporean arms Agent, Haniffa
Bin Osman had pleaded guilty Thursday April 5 to the charges of
conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist
organisation and to money laundering.
In a statement, the Justice Department said that Osman conspired with
two Indonesians to buy 53 military weapons, including sniper rifles,
machine guns and grenade launchers as well as ammunition and
night-vision devices for the LTTE. They contacted an undercover business
in Maryland to request a price list and negotiate a deal... The
statement further pointed out.
As the undercover operation went on, Osman met in July with
undercover FBI agents in Baltimore to discuss transferring the arms to
vessels in the Indian Ocean to be delivered in Sri Lanka.
He made inquiries about the cost of unmanned aerial vehicles, and
test-fired several weapons including machine guns and sniper rifles in a
make shift poice firing range camouflaged.
Osman told the under cover agents that if the first order, for some
US$ 900,000 of supplies, went without a hitch a second one worth 15
million dollars could follow, the Justice Department statement said in a
In August some US$ 250,000 was wired from a Malaysian bank to an
undercover US bank account as a down payment for the weapons' purchase,
it further said.
Osman then travelled to Guam to inspect the weapons including two
surface-to-air missiles, and a second down payment of US$ 452,000 was
made. They wanted to buy the missiles to down the Israeli made kfirs.
Osman was joined in Guam by retired Indonesian General Erick Wotulo,
60, and they both met with undercover agents to discuss shipping the
weapons to Sri Lanka.
They were both arrested in September in Guam.
"We will issue all available legal tools to prevent terrorism,
including undercover operations targeting people who attempt to obtain
military weapons in violation of American law," US Attorney Rod
Rosenstein, further pointed out.
The other Indonesians charged in the case are Haji Subandi, 70;
Reinhard Rusli, 34 and Helmi Soedirja, 33.
They along with Wotulo are scheduled to be sentenced in the coming
months while, Osman is expected to be sentenced in June.