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LTTE shows the way in terror

SUICIDE KILLINGS: The 1983 suicide bombing of the Beirut barracks by Islamic Jihadists which killed 241 US servicemen and 58 French paratroopers is considered the decisive turning point of the entry of the terrorist suicide killings into the field of modern conflict.

From that time until the rise of suicide killings in Iraq with the emergence of the Iraqi insurgency against the US-led occupation there, which has led to a huge daily toll in suicide killings, it was the LTTE in Sri Lanka that has established itself as the largest single use of suicide killings to achieve its military and sectarian objectives.

If those Islamic Jihadists blazed the new trail of terror in from Beirut in 1983, incidentally the year of the Black July in Sri Lanka, which did help nurture many a Tamil militant movement in Sri Lanka, as well as spawn the LTTE, it is now seen that in the matter of terrorist innovation, the LTTE has been showing the way to others engaged in terror throughout the world.

Reports of terror

That LTTE in Sri Lanka has led the way in innovations for terrorism in other countries too, says the important annual assessment of terrorism worldwide submitted recently to the United States Congress.

"Many LTTE innovations, such as explosive belts, vests, and bras, the use of female suicide bombers, and waterborne suicide attacks against ships, have been copied by other terrorist groups," says US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in the latest - 2006 - Country Reports of Terrorism submitted to the US Congress.

U.S. law requires the Secretary of State to provide Congress, by April 30 of each year, a full and complete report on terrorism with regard to those countries and groups meeting criteria set forth in the legislation. This annual report is entitled Country Reports on Terrorism.

The US State Department has interesting observations about the LTTE and its commitment to terrorism in its latest Country Report on Sri Lanka.

In its South and Central Asian section the report said, while the Maoists in Nepal signed a peace agreement in contrast the LTTE continued with its terrorist attacks.

"In Nepal and Sri Lanka, terrorism carried out by the Maoists and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) posed a severe challenge to those governments."

The report adds: "On an encouraging note, in November, the Maoists signed a peace agreement with the Government of Nepal that provided, under certain disarmament conditions, that the Maoists could be admitted into an interim government.

In Sri Lanka, the LTTE continued attacks including targeted assassinations against political and military opponents."

As reported in the State Department's web site, the Secretary of State told the US Congress that, the LTTE financed itself with contributions from the Tamil Diaspora in North America, Europe, and Australia, and by imposing local "taxes" on businesses operating in the areas of Sri Lanka under its control.

Using this money, LTTE weapons were purchased on the international black market or captured from the Sri Lankan Army.

Winged Tigers

The report adds: "The LTTE conducted a campaign of targeted assassinations against political and military opponents.

This included the April assassination attempt of Sri Lanka Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka and the assassination of the Army Third-in-Command; the August 12 assassination of the Government of Sri Lanka's Secretariat for the Coordination of the Peace Process, Deputy Director Ketheshwaran Loganathan; and the December 1 suicide bomber's attempt on the life of Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, the President's brother.

The Karuna faction, a dissident faction of the LTTE, conducted its own assassination campaign against the LTTE and pro-LTTE civilians in the East.

The fact that the report to the US Congress had to be made by April 30 would have prevented mention of the LTTE's latest offensive and hostile act, which is the use of aircraft for attacks on the Sri Lankan Armed Forces and its targeting of economic centres.

In his recent address on the fourth anniversary of his now ridiculed "Mission Accomplished" speech in Iraq, President George W Bush gave many examples to show how the US and its allies had succeeded in making headway in the war on terror that it launched shortly after the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York.

The US President made reference to the new Pentagon initiative in seeking to have an anti-missile shield in Europe, which has already earned the wrath of President Putin and Russia.

Interestingly, what President Bush says is that the anti-missile shield is not against any states that have legitimate missiles but possible terrorist groups or "rogue states" that may acquire them in the future.

All this remains in the realm of the imagination for us in this part of the world facing our own problem of terrorism, which the US State Department now realises has been showing the way to others by way of terrorist innovation.

There was a time the LTTE had some missiles which they did use on aircraft, including those flying civilians. But at that time there was the general belief that the Tigers of Sri Lanka were a Liberation Movement.

Funding of Tiger wings

It has taken some time for large sections of the world opinion to be disabused of such an overly simplistic view of the LTTE. Many are the countries that have now taken the step of naming the LTTE as a terrorist organisation, banning it in their countries or regions, and initiating action against its terrorism related activities.

Gladly, the United States of America is among the first countries, other than India, to impose such restrictions on the LTTE. The LTTE which at one time claimed to be the world's best guerilla organisation, changed tune in the more recent past and paid greater importance to its sea operations,.

In fact, the leader of its Sea Tigers, Soosai, is on record stating that the real battle of the LTTE will be won at sea and not on land. This showed a major change of tactics, possibly with the realisation that its guerrilla activity on land was not going the way it expected.

New reality

There is the new reality that with the operations of the LTTE at sea being stymied by the increased strength and maneuverability of the Sri Lanka Navy and Air Force, there is less being said of success at sea, and more bombast being made about success in the air.

It will be left for time to show the actuality of the LTTE's boasts about how its "air power" will bring about the birth of the ever evasive Eelam.

However, there is one interesting thought about the LTTE and its flying machines. It is that the LTTE would not have come to own them, to threaten the Sri Lankan State as well as the South Asian Region and the international community, had many a foreign country and government taken serious note of what Sri Lanka was telling the world about the true intent and purpose of the LTTE.

It was the money raised both legally and illegally, mainly in the West, that provided the funds for the LTTE to purchase its knocked down aircraft. The smuggling in of the parts for these aircraft was largely done in gross violation of the Ceasefire Agreement with the Government of Sri Lanka.

When dealing with a innovator in the field of terror, it is not too late for the world to take serious note of what the LTTE is today, and how it can threaten the world further if those who speak so often against terror do not take more effective action to prevent it moving onto the next stage of escalation in terror.

The US State Department has noted the LTTE's innovations in terror. Is it not time for the world to stop this terrorist innovator in its tracks today and prevent it introducing more innovations of terror to the world?

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