Terror attacks in Europe, and the relevance of LTTE
By K. Jayasinghe
Regrettably, when these horrors were being orchestrated, the UK allowed the LTTE headquarters to be situated in Eelam House located at 202, Long Lane, London SE1. Even now, European governments continue to pressure Sri Lanka to prosecute some segments of the armed forces for excesses, little realizing that we went through hell.
As Sri Lankans, our hearts reach out for the victims of the horrific terror attacks in London and Manchester bombing. Having undergone such horrors for almost three decades, we can understand their fears, physical pains, and tears shed by victims and their loved ones. However, there are parallels between these current horrors and what we Sri Lankans faced that need to be explored by security experts and historians.
Sri Lanka faced terrors that were hundred-fold more that what London is facing because of LTTE, (Liberation Tigers) which was determined to establish a separate state. The brutality of LTTE was unsurpassed. It pioneered the use of suicide bombers (especially females). According to the FBI and reported in the TIME magazine, they invented the suicide vest, similar to the fake one worn by the attacker in Manchester. (See “A Brief History of The Tamil Tigers By Kate Pickert TIME Jan. 04, 2009”). The same source states that the LTTE is the only terrorist group to have assassinated two world leaders (The President of Sri Lanka Mr Ranasinghe Premdasa and former Indian PM Mr Rajiv Gandhi) and indicates how they used almost 200 suicide attacks in our small country.
The LTTE’s attacks were also aimed at maximizing civilian casualties, similar to what the terrorists in the UK are doing now. They attacked civilians in places of religious worship using machine guns (rather than knife attacks in London). They used suicide bombers (usually females who were coerced) in crowded places (as in Manchester) and almost annihilated the country’s democratic machinery. The latter tally included one elected president, two presidential candidates, a president blinded but escaping death, 3 cabinet ministers, Tamil political leaders, and civilian institutions. They use vans which were bomb-laden vans to explode the Central Bank, Colombo’s World Trade Centre, Colombo airport, train stations in capital, and the main bus terminal in Colombo. In 2009, they conducted air raids over Colombo! In effect, Sri Lanka endured many horrors similar to 9/11 for 30 years and thousands-fold more than what Europe is undergoing now.
According to press reports from Al Jazeera, LTTE maintained close contact with the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), sent explosive experts to the southern Philippines to train members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Falk Rovik, the chief spokesperson for Norwegians Against Terrorism, has described how the LTTE sold hundreds of stolen Norwegian passports to al-Qaeda. (http://www.aljazeera.com/focus/2008/11/2008112019115851343.html). Just like current terror groups active in the middle east, they pioneered the use of child soldiers (see report by Human Rights Watch in https://web.archive.org/web/20070516141422/http://www.hrw.org/reports/2004/childsoldiers0104/16.htm
The LTTE funding machine and extortions were active at least until a decade ago (see the report by Human Rights Watch in https://www.hrw.org/report/2006/03/14/funding-final-war/ltte-intimidation-and-extortion-tamil-diaspora).
Thus the current spate of terrorist acts in the Western capitals begs the following questions: What was the role of the LTTE in influencing these currently active terror outfits? Are former LTTE operatives still playing a role in terror attacks in Europe by providing logistic and technical support? Would the current activities of terror groups in Europe evolve in the same path as the LTTE?