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Al Qaeda Terrorists Use Tamil Diaspora and LTTE to funnel Money and Weapons for Jihadist Activities!

Interesting Article: "Link Grows Between Terrorism, Organized Crime, Officials Say" by Karen Parrish, American Forces Press Service, Washington, D.C.

An interesting article mentioned that the two missions of fighting terrorism and combating global organized crime are increasingly linked.

“Terrorism, drug trafficking and other forms of transnational organized crime are increasingly intertwined,” Michael A. Sheehan, assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict noted, adding that his office -- which is responsible for overall supervision of special operations forces -- is uniquely positioned to provide policy guidance and program oversight to the department’s efforts in both missions.

William F. Wechsler, deputy assistant secretary of defense for counternarcotics and global threats noted trends in terrorism and transnational crime:
-- Terrorist groups are adopting criminal techniques, including drug trafficking, to raise funds;
-- Criminal organizations are adopting terrorist techniques, such as beheadings;
-- Terrorist organizations and criminal organizations that have been separate are now “working together in ways that previously we hadn't seen.

An analyst may begin by asking this question in another way; “Why would terrorist organizations and illicit actors not work together? Assessing this type of relationship depends not entirely on the nature of what a terrorist organization or illicit network is, by definition, but also on the methodologies these entities and actors employ and where they operate in order to achieve their objectives. Transnational criminal organizations and terrorist groups may not be linked strongly by ideological purpose in all cases; however, both such actors and their networks rely on a hierarchy of needs including two main “resources”: people and money.

Countering the nexus of terrorist and criminal activity demands the robust capability to identify and penetrate emerging and established networks in order to de-link the chains that service exploitation streams for participating organizations and affiliate units.

Would you like to know more?

UPDATE AS OF MAY 2014: Lankan with Al-Qaeda links arrested in Malaysia



This type of link is seen more so in Europe that in the states through organizations such as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), one of the most dangerous terrorist organizations on the planet. Their perfection of suicide bombings, their recruitment of women and children, their innovation in IEDs, have been emulated by other terrorist groups worldwide, from al-Qaeda to Hezbollah. Over more than three decades, the LTTE perfected suicide terrorism by loading all sorts of vehicles with explosives: cars, boats and even bicycles. They devoted a unit especially to suicide bombing, recruited cadres of child soldiers known as "baby tigers" and launched a women's unit commanded by women. They attacked the government by air and by sea and used operatives who defied terrorist profiling.

The LTTE's improvised explosive devices (IEDs) set the industry standard. Using a combination of military-grade explosive packed with ball bearings that performed like buckshot, the belts were far more deadly and effective than anything used by jihadi terrorist groups or suicide bombers in the Middle East and elsewhere. In 2001 al-Qaeda made inquiries into whether the group would share its advanced technology and IED blueprints.   

As the years went on, the human trafficking networks, the gang network and the diaspora network has been of greater interest to Al Qaeda and its affiliates in Europe. By watching how the LTTE blended into the European society, Al Qaeda is utilizing the same methodology to integrate into these countries and funnel money back to their organizations in order to fund further terrorist actions around the world, and serve as a way to radicalize and gain new entrants.

In his book, Leaderless Jihad, Marc Sageman presents a bottom up model for al-Qaeda terrorist radicalization, claiming that individual level social factors are responsible for radicalization, to the extent that “al Qaeda had no need for a separate recruitment program”. He posits that European Muslims are particularly sensitive to radicalization because of an increased rate of failure to assimilate. This basis of this theory is that the logic behind radicalization doesn’t have a lot to do with ideology itself. It is instead connected to social factors such as the influence of family and friends, “it turns out that joining the global Islamist terrorism social movement was based to a great degree on friendship and kinship”. This is why diasporic populations in Europe are more vulnerable to radicalization then Muslims living in their home countries or America: alienated, they hang out at mosques and join other young Muslim men, eventually going from ‘just a group of guys’ to terrorists. “Al Qaeda is much like a shark, which must keep moving forward, no matter how slowly or incrementally, or die. Al Qaeda must constantly adapt and adjust to its enemies’ efforts to stymie its plans while simultaneously identifying new targets. The group’s capacity to survive is also a direct reflection of both its resilience and the continued resonance of its ideology,” Hoffman.
The LTTE provides similar manner in which young radicalized Tamils in Europe engage in criminal activities along with Muslim radicals that operate within the same circles. By having working together using the Tamil networks and experiences, Al Qaeda has, for many years, worked closely with the Tamil Diaspora to move weapons, drugs, people, and perhaps even explosives into Europe.
A wave of muggings, credit card frauds and drug pushing is flourishing in Britain because the authorities are ignoring it. The Tamil Tigers are taking hold in the UK while the Government focuses on Islamic extremists, a worrying investigation has found. There are also fears that the terrorist group from Sri Lanka, known to have links internationally with Al Qaeda, may carry out attacks for Osama bin Laden's outfit in the UK as "hired suicide bombers". The scenario echoes the early 90s when security services focused on the IRA and turned a blind eye to Islamic terrorists - allowing groups like Al Qaeda to take hold.

More worrying in the long term are the links of the LTTE and Al Qaeda. Intelligence reports unearthed by my probe link the Tigers to Al Qaeda – and there are fears from intelligence officers that they might work together with Osama bin Laden's outfit on future attacks.

The respected International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), which researches military power, outlines the LTTE's "possible commercial link with Al Qaeda" in its 2007 report. In layman's terms this means the two outfits work together raising money through their organized crime and trafficking networks - the main way terrorists raise cash.

And according to intelligence experts, it also raises the worrying prospect of Al Qaeda using the Tigers to attack Britain in exchange for money. "But groups like Al Qaeda - who want to attack Britain - will use the Tigers. There is no ideological link but money talks - and the Tigers main concern is raising money for its fight in Sri Lanka. "Tiger soldiers are attractive to use because they are well trained soldiers who know how to operate a suicide kit. It is not like taking a novice. Also, Tiger soldiers can slip under the net because they are not being monitored by UK intelligence agencies."

An earlier link between the two groups was in the early 90s when the LTTE provided forged passports to Ramzi Yousef, the man who carried out the first attack on the World Trade Center in New York in 1993. At a talk at the IISS in London this year, Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama said: "In fact there is evidence that the LTTE established linkages with the Mujahiddins in Afghanistan as far back as 1987.

Further to this, although not widely known, the LTTE has close links with many armed groups around the world. In one of its documents released as far back as November 1998, it declared its resolve to work in solidarity with the various national liberation movements, socialist states, and international working class parties.

The LTTE is known to have worked with Palestinian factions in the Middle East from whom they received advanced military training from 1978 to 1980, the Maoist Naxalite movement in India and the Khalistan movement which was agitating for a separate Sikh state in northwest India.
The LTTE shipping fleet has provided logistics support to Harakat-al Mujahideen, a Pakistani group with al-Qaeda affiliations, to transport a consignment of weapons to the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in the Philippines.

They also maintain close contact with the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK).

The LTTE is said to have sent two combat tacticians and explosive experts to the southern Philippines to train members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
On March 10, 2007, Falk Rovik, the chief spokesperson for Norwegians Against Terrorism, stated in Toronto that the LTTE gave hundreds of stolen Norwegian passports to al-Qaeda in exchange for money.

The LTTE, which opened its first overseas office in London in 1984, has front organizations in India, Botswana, Myanmar, Cambodia, Denmark, Germany, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Qatar, South Africa, Switzerland and Thailand, besides others.
Sources that keep a watch of terrorist activities and organizations claim that the LTTE maintains branches in 54 countries.

With such a large network, AL Qaeda has at its disposal a network that they use to move their own fighters, money, weapons and explosives, all the while hidden under the banner to the Tamil Diaspora.

As recently as last year, WND.com, an independent news network operating in Washington also reported, quoting sources as saying that Iran was behind the Boston bombings and pointed to the collaboration of the regime’s Quds Forces with Hezbollah and elements of Al-Qaeda with links to individuals in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Quds Force guidance, Hezbollah recruited Sunni terrorists allied with Al-Qaeda factions in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, who then entered the U.S. for terrorist activities.

The US-based research organization “Maritime Intelligence Group” had also said the Indonesian group Jemaah Islamiya, which has known links to al-Qaeda, had been trained in sea-borne guerrilla tactics by LTTE Sea Tiger veterans.

In 2005, the International Institute for Strategic Studies` publication Military Balance 2005-2006 lists the LTTE as a non-state armed group, adding that it carries out suicide attacks and has a `possible al-Qaeda link`...“It is possible that the LTTE is using its merchant ships to help transport weapons from al-Qaeda to its cells or support groups in other countries,”

The LTTE had further connections with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan in 1997-98. It launders narcotics trade money through its Eelam "Bank". Most of all, it is anti-India because of it's training to all terrorists organization operating in India, such as ULFA, Naxalites etc., and provides all kinds of nefarious patronage to Tamil organizations. Knowing Al Qaeda elements in Pakistan has been waging a war in India, it is through the Tamil Nadu elements that funding and logistics are clearly utilized to bring in Terrorists into India for operations.

The LTTE introduced the concept of “soft target suicide operations” that effectively delivered a low-cost high visibility outcome to boost the image of the group. This radically transformed the tactical nature of all future suicide operations globally. Suicide operations were less about the target, and more about building profile and augmenting the image of the group. The LTTE innovated and improved detonation devices and concealment methods contributing significantly to the advancement in the technology used for suicide operations. With the beginning of the second Intifada in Gaza and the West Bank in September 2000, the use of mass-scale “soft target suicide operations” proliferated as part of the tactical repertoire of terrorist groups in the Middle-East. Thereafter from 2004, the Jama Al Tawhid wal Jihad, headed by Sunni cleric Al Zarqawi, which later affiliated itself with the Al Qaeda and conducted the largest number of soft target suicide operations in Iraq.



See below LTTE connections in different theaters:

Kurdish European Network

The LTTE maintained close relations with the Kurdish Support Group in France in the 1990s. The European network of the LTTE was modeled largely on the diaspora support networks operated by the Kurdish groups. The former head of the LTTE international office, Lawrence Thilagar received a special invitation to speak at the inauguration of the Kurdish Parliament in Exile (KPE) on 12 April 1995 in The Hague, Netherlands. It is reported that the close contact between the LTTE and PKK resulted in the LTTE acquiring 11 surface to air missiles of Greek origin from the PKK.

Afghanistan and the Taliban

During the period 1998 -2001 the Taliban regime in Afghanistan operated a major weapons procurement operation based at the Ariana Airline office in Sharjah. Much of the military hardware that the Taliban acquired through the Sharjah network was supplied by the infamous Russian arms dealer Victor Bout also known as the Merchant of Death. Victor Bout and his business associate Sanjivan Ruprah have supplied weapons and training to several West African rebel groups and are accused of involvement in the illicit diamond trade. Victor Bout operated an air cargo service at the Sharjah airport known as Air Cess, which together with Ariana Airlines co-handled most of the military deliveries between Sharjah and Afghanistan. It is estimated that the Sharjah network operated 3 to 4 flights daily between Sharjah and Kandahar transporting weapons and supplies to the Taliban. During this period 17km away in Dubai, the LTTE also operated a cargo company known as Otharad Cargo, headed by Daya the younger sibling of Nithi a Canadian based member of the LTTE’s KP Unit. It is suspected that Otharad Cargo acquired several consignments of military hardware as part of consolidated purchase arrangements with the Taliban’s Sharjah network. It was also the function of Otharad Cargo to service the operations of the LTTE shipping fleet in the Gulf region. Officials of an Asian security agency believe Kumaran Pathmanadan (KP) head of the LTTE procurement unit (KP unit) traveled from Bangkok through Karachi to Kabul on 19 May 2001 and had meetings with Taliban officials on matters relating to the Sharjah network.

Information recovered from a Laptop Computer of a LTTE procurement agent now in the custody of a Western country provided detailed information on LTTE activities in Pakistan. The LTTE had registered a front company in Karachi which had procured several consignments of weapons for the LTTE and several other Pakistani groups. A shipment of weapons procured by this front company and en-route to Sri Lankan waters was intercepted by the Sri Lanka Navy and destroyed in September 2007.

Brian Joyce in an article in the Jane’s Intelligence in November 2002 on Terrorist Financing in South Asia states that the LTTE shipping fleet provided logistics support to Harakat-al Mujahideen, a Pakistani militant group with Al Qaeda affiliations to transport a consignment of weapons to the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in the Philippines. The LTTE used a merchant vessel registered by a front company in Lattakia, Syria until 2002 to service most of the grey/black charters.

Eritrea and Al Qaeda Affiliates

Since the United Nations arms embargo on Eritrea and Ethiopia, the Horn of Africa has evolved into a major hub for the informal arms trade. In opposition to Ethiopian military support to the Transitional Government in Somalia, the Government of Eritrea is accused of providing material support to the Islamist rebels in Somalia led by the Islamic Courts Union (ICU). The Islamic Courts Union which controls areas in Southern Somalia is a constituent member of the Union of Islam (Al Ittihad al Islamiya) headed by Hassan Dahir Aweys having close affiliations with the Al Qaeda. The Bakaaraha arms market near Irtogte in South Mogadishu is considered the central distribution point for the informal arms trade in the Horn of Africa. A report by the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia under Security Council Resolution 1724 (2006) dated 18 July 2007, provides explicit evidence of Eritrean involvement in the transport of weapons to Somalia. The report provides evidence relating to the purchase of cargo aircraft by Eriko Enterprises in Asmara which is believed to be a front company of the Eritrean government to make regular weapons deliveries to Somalia.
The same company is also referred to by The London Times in a February 2007 article in which it claims to have evidence that General Tambi, of the Eritrean Defence Forces used Eriko Enterprises to charter several Antonov and Ilyusion transport aircraft from Aerolift Aviation to move large quantities of men and material to Somalia. In addition, the UN report also states that the Eritrean government delivered a consignment of six SA-18 surface-to-air missiles to the Islamic Court Union in Somalia.

Eritrea has emerged as a major transshipment point and sanctuary for key players in the informal arms trade. The LTTE established a presence in Eritrea primarily to operate in the informal arms market. It is believed the LTTE maintains regular interactions with many armed groups including groups affiliated to the Al Qaeda operating in the Eritrean Network. The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee report dated 15 December 2006, explicitly stated that the Government of Eritrea provides direct support to the LTTE. The Eritrean connection is extremely important to the LTTE, in fact LTTE leader Velupillai Prabakaran sent a personally signed fax to President Isaias Afewerki of Eritrea on 24 May 2006, communicating directly with a Head of State. President Afewerki, prior to the secession of Eritrea from Ethiopia in 1993 led the Eritrea People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) a rebel movement for the independence of Eritrea.

The UN report also indicates that most of the weapons flights to Somalia originate from the port city of Massawa in Eritrea. The report documents several Aerogem Aviation aircraft operated by Fab Air making regular deliveries to Somalia. The LTTE shipping fleet is known to have a presence in several East African ports. In fact, on 23 May 1997, the LTTE vessel MV Limassol took delivery of a consignment of Motars from Zimbabwe Defence Industries at the Port of Beira in Mozambique. The sea access from Massawa port in Eritrea provides convenient shipping facilities for the LTTE to transport weapons to international waters off the coast of Sri Lanka.

MILF and Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines

The LTTE had established a longstanding business relationship with Islamic groups in the Philippines. In 1990s, LTTE procurement agent Dharmakulaseelan was responsible for transferring funds from Canada to the Philippines for the procurement of specialized weapons. Dr. Rohan Gunarantna in an article in the Jane’s Intelligence in July 2001 on Islamist Rebels in the Philippines states that the LTTE sent two Combat Tacticians and Explosive Experts to Southern Philippines to train members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). In April 2007, Police Supt. Rodolfo Mendoza, of the Philippines Police stated that intelligence reports had alerted the Philippine authorities to several Tamil Tiger members visiting Abu Sayyaf camps in Southern Mindanao.
LTTE Activity in the Middle East

Unlike in Europe and North America, LTTE front organizations have not actively engaged in publicly mobilizing the Tamil expatriate community in the Middle East. This was mainly due to the less permissive environment and low tolerance regimes in the region. However, over the last two years LTTE members in Qatar have engaged in regular fundraising events. In November 2007, the LTTE cell in Qatar held a public celebration for LTTE Heroes Day in the Ar-Rayyan area in Doha. The LTTE members are also involved in violent intimidation of dissident Tamil supporters in Qatar. It is alleged that LTTE member Sukasan had brutally murdered a member of the Karuna Group in Sanya, Doha in February 2006. The LTTE has also established an embryonic cell to promote fundraising and shipping activity in Nicosia, Cyprus.
The LTTE has an international network of support among the Tamil diaspora and, because of Sri Lanka's strategic location astride shipping lanes, its own fleet of sea-going vessels. So it is well positioned and continues to play a role in trans-national terrorist activity.

References:
http://www.aljazeera.com/focus/2008/11/2008112019115851343.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jim-luce/in-sri-lanka-explaining-t_b_211249.html
http://www.asiantribune.com/?q=node/9873
http://www.dawn.com/news/856678/al-qaeda-taliban-copying-ltte-tactics
http://counterterrorismblog.org/2007/03/ltte_alqaeda_an_assessment_1.php
http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2008-01-12/news/27726099_1_ltte-sri-lankan-government-suicide-belt
http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2008/january/tamil_tigers011008

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