Tiger operatives indicted in US Court under Material Support Law
The Federal Court in Brooklyn
Piratheepan Nadarajah (36) and Suresh Sriskandarajah (32), two
alleged operatives of Sri Lanka's now defunct Liberation Tigers of Tamil
Eelam (LTTE), a US-designated foreign terrorist organisation, referred
to as the Tamil Tigers, were arraigned last Thursday before the United
States Magistrate at the Federal Courthouse in Brooklyn, New York
following their extradition from Canada.
The two men, who were born in Sri Lanka and became naturalised
Canadian citizens, had been sought by the United States since 2006. Each
has been charged with conspiring to provide material support to the
Tamil Tigers, a law that was upheld by the US Supreme Court last year
when LTTE operatives in the US challenged it, after their separatist
military movement was defeated three years ago after more than 25 years
The men’s fight against extradition ended this month after the
Supreme Court of Canada dismissed their appeals, clearing the way for
them to be sent to the United States.
The two Tamil-Canadians pleaded not guilty to criminal charges before
a Brooklyn judge on Thursday, years after US prosecutors first accused
them of ties to the Sri Lankan terrorist organisation, the Tamil Tigers.
A decade ago, the Tamil Tigers were on their way to carving out a
separate state within Sri Lanka. But the guerrillas’ continued use of
suicide bombings, child soldiers and political assassinations led the
Canadian, US and European governments to blacklist the movement as
terrorists – and take steps to cut them off from their supporters in the
global Tamil refugee Diaspora.
The 26-year-old conflict ended in 2009 when the Sri Lankan Government
Army vanquished the Tigers.
In 1997, the LTTE was designated by the US State Department as a
Foreign Terrorist Organisation and therefore may not legally raise money
or procure equipment or materials in the United States.
In 2006, US prosecutors first alleged that Sriskandarajah and
Nadarajah were Canadian cogs in the Tigers’ global procurement machine.
Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn said Nadarajah and several
co-conspirators had engaged in negotiations in 2006 with an undercover
FBI agent to buy 20 SA-18 heat-seeking missiles, 10 missile launchers
and 500 AK-47 assault rifles.
The other defendant, Suresh Sriskandarajah, assisted Tamil officials
in researching and acquiring aviation equipment, submarine and warship
design software and communications equipment, a criminal complaint
Part of cycle
Loretta E. Lynch, the United States attorney in Brooklyn, said the
defendants “were part of the cycle of sophisticated arms and large sums
of money that fuelled” the Tamil Tigers, an organisation that
authorities said had used suicide bombings and political assassinations.
Nadarajah and Sriskandarajah were both wearing khaki jumpsuits and were
cuffed at the ankles when they entered not-guilty pleas before
Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom. A bail hearing was set for January 9.
Nadarajah is charged with conspiring and attempting to acquire $1
million worth of anti-aircraft missiles, missile launchers and other
military equipment, and conspiring and attempting to provide material
support to the LTTE. Sriskandarajah is charged with conspiring to
provide material support to the LTTE and dealing in the property of a
especially designated terrorist group. At the request of the United
States, Nadarajah and Sriskandarajah were previously arrested in Canada
with a view to extradition, pursuant to warrants requested in the
Eastern District of New York.
An LTTE bombing in Colombo
As detailed in the superseding indictment and other court filings,
between July 1, 2006 and August 19, 2006, Nadarajah and several
co-conspirators engaged in negotiations with an undercover FBI agent to
purchase and export $1 million worth of high-powered weapons and
military equipment for the LTTE, including 20 SA-18 heat-seeking,
surface-to-air, anti-aircraft missiles; 10 missile launchers; and 500
Nadarajah and his associates attempted to acquire these weapons at
the direction of senior LTTE leadership in Sri Lanka, including Pottu
Amman, then the LTTE’s chief of intelligence and procurement and the top
deputy to then-LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran. The anti-aircraft
weapons were to be used by the LTTE to shoot down Kfir aircraft used by
the Sri Lankan military.
As detailed in the superseding indictment and other court filings,
between September 2004 and April 2006, Sriskandarajah and several
co-conspirators assisted a principal LTTE procurement officer to
research and acquire aviation equipment, submarine and warship design
software and communications equipment.
Sriskandarajah used students as couriers to smuggle prohibited items
into territory in Sri Lanka then controlled by the LTTE. Additionally,
Sriskandarajah helped the LTTE launder its proceeds in the United States
Weapons and equipment
“As alleged, these two defendants were part of the cycle of
sophisticated arms and large sums of money that fuelled their terrorist
organisation. As Tamil Tiger operatives, the defendants were bent on
procuring high-powered weaponry and high-tech equipment and designs for
the LTTE, an organisation that has waged a long-standing war of terror
using suicide bombings that often targeted innocent civilians.
They would stop at nothing to achieve their goals, even using
students to smuggle prohibited items into Sri Lanka,” stated United
States Attorney Lynch. “Thanks to the combined efforts of our law
enforcement partners in the United States and abroad, there is no safe
haven for supporters of terrorist groups like the LTTE.”
“The defendants allegedly set out to provide material support for
high-level members of the LTTE, a known terrorist organisation
responsible for civilian massacres and other heinous crimes, by
attempting to use our country and its resources as a gateway for
But after more than six years of fighting their extradition to the
United States, they will finally face the justice they couldn't evade.
This serves as a fine example of how our law enforcement partners
both here and around the world are successfully combining their efforts
against terrorists and terrorist groups alike,” stated Assistant
Director in Charge Venizelos.
“The subjects in this case attempted to exploit perceived
vulnerabilities in the United States to provide material support to a
violent terrorist organisation. Although their immediate goal was not to
do harm to the United States, political motivations can and do quickly
change, and it’s important that law enforcement be steadfast in its
pursuit of terrorism regardless of ideology,” stated Special Agent in
Incidents involving LTTE outside Sri Lanka 2012
LTTE child soldiers
November 23: A local court in Chennai, Tamil Nadu closed a criminal
charge filed against slain LTTE chief Prabhakaran, pending before it for
many years. The VII Additional Sessions Judge (In charge) Kaliamoorthy
declared the charge as “abated,” following the Crime Branch-CID request
to close it on the ground that Prabhakaran's body was recovered from the
Nandikadal area of Sri Lanka in 2009.
November 13: Two Sri Lankan men were charged with the murder of
Parithy, a former ‘commander’ of the LTTE in Paris. The two suspects,
both born in Sri Lanka in 1979, were arrested on November 11 and are
being held in custody in Paris. One of them is suspected of ordering the
murder and the other of carrying out the hit on the Sri Lankan-born
French national. They have been charged with murder and immigration
November 8: A prominent LTTE leader and leader of the Pro-LTTE TCC
Nadarajah Matheenthiran alias Parithy was killed in Paris, France, as a
result of internal rift. Police said that Parithy belonged to the LTTE's
Nediyawan faction. Since the death of Prabhakaran, an internal rift
occurred between LTTE Europe Leader Nediyawan and V. Rudrakumaran who
was also a prominent LTTE leader based in the USA.
October 28: An Australian report said that former LTTE combatants
wanted for their crimes in Sri Lanka are being funded to migrate to
Australia as asylum seekers by former members of the terrorist group who
have already migrated to Australia. The report said that six former
combatants who posed as asylum seekers were arrested leaving Sri Lanka
this year, with another six people who were apprehended as alleged
June 17: The Belgium Government said that it would continue to remain
vigilant against any activities by the LTTE on its soil.
June 11: Swiss prosecutors have planned to interview the head of
finance of the LTTE who is imprisoned in the Netherlands. They have also
planned to question some 25 senior ranked LTTE members; some of whom are
currently imprisoned in Sri Lanka. They are investigating into suspected
money laundering by 12 members of the Swiss LTTE to the Netherlands and
Sri Lanka. The prosecutor office suspects that the Tamils used fake pay
slips of Sri Lankans resident in Switzerland to obtain loans of $73,000
June 6: Swiss Director of Prosecutions revealed that the LTTE had
taken fraudulently substantial funds as loans from financial
institutions on the basis of false documents, reports Lanka Web. It was
also revealed that these funds were channelled to the LTTE for purchase
of arms through S. Ramachandran, a leader in the LTTE overseas front.
June 4: British Sri Lankans in London held a peaceful demonstration
against violent methods adopted by the LTTE rump in UK.
May 11: A United States Federal Judge in New York sentenced a top
Tamil Tiger, who pleaded guilty to terrorism charges, to time served in
jail and freed the man. The defendant, Karunakaran Kandasamy (55), had
pleaded guilty to, among others, a charge of conspiring to provide
material support to the LTTE.
April 30: The United States Department of Justice seeks a 15-year
prison sentence for a Canadian Tamil man who pleaded guilty in a United
States district court to charges of conspiring to provide material
support to the LTTE, a proscribed organisation in the US. Mylvaganam, a
Canadian citizen who previously lived in the US, was arrested by
Canada's RCMP officers in Toronto and extradited to the US in 2009,
following his indictment in the Eastern District Court of New York. He
pleaded guilty on February 8, 2012 to conspiring to procure
sophisticated technology, including submarine design software and night
vision equipment for the LTTE in 2006. Mylvaganam faces a maximum term
of 15 years’ imprisonment.
March 10: Sri Lanka's ambassador to Germany, Sarath Kongahage, said
that the LTTE and its sympathisers are fast fading in Germany. Several
attempts made by them to raise funds by holding campaigns have failed.
The Sri Lankan community in Germany is around 60,000.
March 9: Media spokesperson for Sri Lankan Australians in Melbourne,
Nagesha Wickramasuriya said that separatist activists and LTTE
supporters are attempting to lobby support from federal Parliamentarians
in Australia into making a statement and to pressurise the UNHRC to take
action against Sri Lanka.
March 8: Activists of various pro-LTTE movements disrupted an
international conference and forced the organisers to send away a Sri
Lankan academic. The members of Naam Tamizhar Iyakkam May 17 Movement,
Sri Lankan Tamils Protection Federation, as well as MDMK cadre barged
into the conference venue at Manonmaniam Sundaranar University (MSU) in
Tamil Nadu and protested against the participation of Jeeva Niriella,
faculty of law, lecturer, University of Colombo. This is the second such
incident of a Sri Lankan visitor facing a protest by pro-Tamil outfits.
In January this year, Thirukumaran Nadesan, husband of Nirupama
Rajapaksa, suffered an even harsher treatment when slippers were hurled
at him in Rameswaram where he visited to offer prayers in the temple.
January 16: A suspected sympathiser of the LTTE was arrested by Kochi
city Police from Chengalpettu in Chennai in connection with a human
trafficking case involving Sri Lankan Tamils.
January 15: The US granted President Mahinda Rajapaksa immunity from
a law suit filed in a US court against him by the pro-LTTE Tamil
Diaspora. The US filed a “Suggestion of Immunity” at the United States
District Court for the District of Columbia on January 13 for President
Rajapaksa, recognising him as the “sitting head of state of a foreign
The External Affairs Ministry has directed the country's missions in
Europe to keep a close watch on the activities of LTTE front
organisations in their respective countries.
January 3: The French Ambassador confirmed the publication of 360
stamps by La Poste. However, after the French Ministry of Foreign
Affairs has informed La Poste that the LTTE is a terrorist group banned
by the EU in 2006, the mail service has assured that no such stamps will
be printed further. Peiris urged the French Government to ensure that
publications like the four stamps issued by La Poste of France,
depicting images related to the LTTE, including its insignia, should not
happen and their publication be cancelled.
October 21: A Dutch court convicted and sentenced five Dutch citizens
of Sri Lankan Tamil origin, accused of extorting money from other Dutch
Tamils to fund terrorist activities.
September 30: Sri Lankan-born American hedge fund founder Raj
Rajaratnam, who was found guilty on all counts in the high-profile
insider trading trial and awaiting sentencing in the United States, also
financed the LTTE, in its decades-long terrorism.
September 28: Dutch prosecutors trying five Sri Lankan Tamil
nationals (who are all naturalised Dutch citizens now), accused of
extorting money from other Dutch Tamils in the Netherlands, are seeking
long prison terms. The prosecutors have demanded sentences ranging from
10 to 16 years for the five ethnic Tamils accused of organising illegal
lotteries and extorting cash from Tamils in the Netherlands with all
proceeds going to the LTTE, to finance its terrorism.
Nine persons who were arrested in Kerala in India on September 26 on
the charge of cheating 34 Sri Lankans at refugee camps in Tamil Nadu are
suspected by the Police to have links with the LTTE.
September 27: A senior American counter-terrorism official warned
Canadian authorities that two Sri Lankan migrants who arrived off the
British Columbia Coast in 2009 aboard a smuggling ship were suspected
cadre of the militant outfit LTTE.
September 17: A domestic Dutch criminal court, trying five Sri Lankan
Tamils for supporting Sri Lanka's defeated Tamil Tiger terrorist outfit,
will screen Britain's Channel 4 documentary ‘Sri Lanka's Killing Fields’
on a request made by the defence counsel.
August 27: Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the European Union (EU)
Ravinatha Aryasinha said that the EU was yet to respond to a request
from Sri Lanka on listing LTTE front organisations in Europe as
August 23: Prof Rohan Gunaratne, a specialist in terrorism research,
while addressing the fifth annual symposium of the Sir John Kotalawela
Defence University, said that despite the LTTE being wiped out in Sri
Lanka, their international presence still posed a threat to the country.
August 18: The overseas cadre of LTTE continued to procure weapons
while the LTTE Diaspora continued to support the organisation
financially, a report released by the (US) Department of State said. It
said that despite its military defeat in Sri Lanka at the hands of
Government Forces in May 2009, the LTTE's international network of
financial support persists.
August 1: The Sri Lankan Government updated a request to the EU to
list front organisations of the LTTE as terrorist entities.
July 27: Radio Netherlands claimed that Rehabilitated (LTTE) cadre
are ready to fight again if life doesn't improve.
July 21: Minister of Human Resources D.E.W. Gunasekera said that
international groups looked at the situation in the country from the
viewpoint of the LTTE.
June 16: In the wake of a documentary aired by Britain's Channel 4,
the United Nations renewed its call for Sri Lanka to investigate the
alleged violations of human rights during the last phase of the
three-decade long conflict with the LTTE militants.
June 15: Following the broadcasting of a documentary by the Channel 4
television, the United Kingdom pressed Sri Lanka to investigate the
alleged war crimes or face an international inquiry.
A team of Dutch officials investigating the financial network of the
LTTE leaders in the Netherlands arrived in Sri Lanka to interrogate
former and current LTTE leaders in the country.
May 25: Dutch authorities investigating the financial network of the
LTTE leaders in the Netherlands plan to interrogate former and current
LTTE leaders in Sri Lanka and are in the process of seeking permission
from the Sri Lankan authorities.
May 21: A Norway-based leader of the LTTE, Perinpanayagam Sivaparan
alias Nediyawan, was arrested by the Netherlands Police and produced in
a court in Oslo in Norway.
April 7: Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) asked the Canadian
Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) to deport a Sri Lankan Tamil migrant
for his role in the human smuggling operation that brought hundreds of
Tamil refugees to Canada aboard the Thai cargo ship MV Sun Sea in August
March 17: Canadian authorities ordered the deportation of a Sri
Lankan Tamil migrant who had entered Vancouver in August 2010 aboard the
Thai ship MV Sun Sea on the charge of being a member of the militant
February 25: The Canadian Government is mulling over the confiscation
of all LTTE banking and fund-raising activities in Canada. Minister for
External Affairs G.L. Peiris said that Canada was already in the process
of crafting the necessary legislation. The Minister said that Jason
Kenny, a Canadian Minister had taken the lead in this respect.
February 13: Central intelligence agencies communicated specific
inputs to the Tamil Nadu Police that suspected LTTE cadre are conspiring
to carry out attacks on VVIPs during forthcoming Assembly elections in
Courtesy: Asian Tribune