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Tigers use Malaysia, Singapore to channel funds: Mangala

KUALA LUMPUR: Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) funnel contributions through Malaysia and Singapore to buy weapons in Thailand and Cambodia, a newspaper reported yesterday. Samaraweera told The New Straits Times in Kuala Lumpur that the Government has asked for help from those countries to curb fundraising and weapons purchases by LTTE.

The Tigers rely heavily on contributions from expatriate Tamils living in North America and Europe.

"The process of channeling funds raised in European Union nations and the United States to Malaysia and Singapore is rather complicated. That is why we are seeking the cooperation of countries like Malaysia," Samaraweera said in an interview with the Times.

"The Malaysia, Thai and Cambodian Governments are taking this very seriously," he said.

Most funds are used to buy weapons in Southeast Asia, especially Cambodia and Thailand, the newspaper reported Samaraweera as saying. The foreign minister was in Malaysia for a meeting of the 116-nation Nonaligned Movement.

He said he has asked Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar to help and offered to share intelligence with Malaysia's security agencies. He told the newspaper that some of the funds may be deposited in banks in Malaysia and around the region, but that the LTTE may also be investing in legitimate businesses in Southeast Asia.

"One of the best ways to help the peace process is to ensure that the LTTE's moneymaking capabilities are curtailed," Samaraweera said.

Samaraweera hailed the EU's decision on Monday to put the Tigers on a terrorist blacklist, saying it would deprive the LTTE of vital funds from the Tamil Diaspora in Europe.

"The ban will curtail their fundraising activities and cripple the LTTE's ability to continue with its campaign of terror," the Minister said, adding that it would encourage the Tigers to return to the negotiating table.

The United States, Canada and India already list the LTTE as a terrorist organisation, hindering the Tigers' efforts to raise money from expatriate supporters there - a crucial funding source for their rebellion.

Malaysia, Wednesday, AP

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