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DateLine Sunday, 18 November 2007

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US worthy of emulation

The United States has set an example in the global drive against terrorism by becoming the first to take tangible action against an LTTE front organisation.

The US Government froze all assets of the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO ), an LTTE front, in the USA in furtherance of its declared aim of financially isolating terrorist groups and their support networks. The US Government arrived at this decision following detailed investigations

The TRO, which styles itself as a charitable organisation, acts as a front to facilitate fund-raising and procurement for the LTTE. It has been already declared a terrorist organisation in the US, Britain, Canada, India and the European Union.

While forcing Tamil expatriates to pay 'taxes' the LTTE terrorists continue to raise large volumes of funds from their own community and sympathisers in various countries through front organisations that seemingly have no connection to the LTTE.

As pointed out by Sri Lanka for sometime the proscription of the LTTE has been undermined by certain front organisations of the LTTE, particularly the TRO to continue collecting funds to beef up the LTTE arsenal.

The freezing of assets of the TRO and other allied bodies would no doubt set a precedent to several other countries which are also investigating LTTE front organisations to take tangible action against these fronts.

Many people here had their reservations on the conduct of some Western countries, which seem to have turned a blind eye against activities of terrorist organisations in developing countries.

However, in taking such a timely and appropriate action against a 'shadow wing' of a ruthless terrorist organisation such as the LTTE, the US Government has proved its sincerity.

The United States has declared the LTTE as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist Organisation since 2001 and a Foreign Terrorist Organisation since 1997. The TRO has now been designated under Executive Order 13,224 which is aimed at financially isolating terrorist groups and their support networks. It freezes any assets held by designees under US jurisdiction and prohibits US persons from transacting with designees.

The TRO raised funds in the US on behalf of the LTTE, through a network of individual representatives.

According to a source within the organisation, the TRO is the preferred conduit of funds from the United States to the LTTE. The TRO has also facilitated LTTE procurement operations in the United States. Such operations included the purchase of ammunition, equipment, communication devices, and other technology for the Tiger terrorists, clashing with the legitimate Government in Sri Lanka.

The TRO's efforts worldwide reportedly have allowed the Tiger terrorists to use humanitarian aid, which it collected for the international community after the December 2004 tsunami, to launch new campaigns to strengthen the LTTE's military capacity. The TRO runs an office in Kilinochchi and operates branch offices throughout the island and in many countries.

It is well-known that the LTTE oversees the activities of the TRO and other LTTE-linked NGOs both here and abroad. The directives issued by the Tigers suggest that LTTE-affiliated branch representatives are expected to co-ordinate their efforts with the TRO representatives in their locations and report all activity to the LTTE.

It has now been proved that the LTTE has ordered INGOs in Tiger-held areas to provide all projects funding through local NGOs, which are managed collectively by the TRO.

This allows the TRO to withdraw money from the local NGO accounts and provide a portion of the relief funds to the LTTE to finance their terror acts.

The LTTE has reportedly exerted pressure on a few international NGOs that resisted. The LTTE more often than not tried to give a human face to the TRO so that it could attract more finances.

It has been a well-organised move to raise funds for a terrorist organisation that has been banned in the US since October, 1997, with a subsequent amendment as Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT).

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Minister Rohitha Bogollagama played a major role in exposing the true nature of the LTTE and TRO before the international community.

We earnestly hope the countries battling against world terrorism would take the cue from the United States. At the same time, the Tamil community both here and the world over should realise that this is a move against global terrorism and not against a particular ethnic group.

As the US Ambassador Robert Blake has said, the purpose of freezing the TRO assets in the US was to block funds to the LTTE and not for Tamil civilians.

While the Government makes a sincere effort to find a negotiated settlement - an honourable peace acceptable to all communities here, through the All Party Representative Committee (APRC), we must continue the nation's drive against terrorism. We cannot allow the LTTE to heap misery on innocent civilians anymore.

The bold decision of the US Government is an eye opener to one and all. By doing so, the Bush administration has proved its sincerity to eradicate world terrorism. All peace-loving people and those who campaign for anti-terrorism would hail the US decision and hope that other countries too would follow suit.

As President Mahinda Rajapaksa has quite often emphasised at various international fora, including the recent UN General Assembly, terrorism anywhere in the world is terrorism. There can't be two types or definitions to terrorism in the East and West.

Terrorism should be defeated at any cost as it is a big threat to world peace.

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