SPECIAL REPORT : Part 99November 24, 2015, 5:14 pm
by Shamindra Ferdinando
The French response to Nov. 13 Paris massacre should be examined against the backdrop of Sri Lanka having to address accountability issues during eelam war IV (Aug 2006-May 2009).
In accordance with overall Western strategy, France, a current member of the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), pushed for war crimes probe, targeting Sri Lanka. The Western project was meant to undermine the previous government of war - winning President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Western powers accused Sri Lanka of atrocities, as well as excesses. However, French counter-terrorism operations, launched in the wake of the Paris massacre, underscored the use of maximum force against a ‘target,’ according international media. Obviously, the French wanted the alleged ‘mastermind’ of the Paris massacre dead.
The French police fired over 5,000 rounds at a safe house, at Saint Denis, where Abdelhamid Abaaoud, 27, the suspected ‘mastermind’ of the Paris massacre was hiding. The French tracked down the jihadist within days after gunmen killed 130 persons in coordinated attacks.
According to the media, the suspect was first hit in the head by a police sniper and then blown to pieces by numerous grenades, during the raid in the suburb of Saint-Denis. The French had to conduct forensic tests to identify the mutilated body. The media, quoted Paris prosecutors, as having said the suspect’s body had been ‘riddled with bullets’, adding that it was unclear whether Abaaoud had detonated a suicide belt.
Three persons died in the assault, namely the Paris attack mastermind, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, his cousin, Hasna Ait Boulahcen, and another man who detonated his own suicide bomb which caused a massive explosion, (not Ait Boulahcen as previously thought).
France also dispatched her only nuclear aircraft carrier, Charles de Gaulle, to join the ongoing assault on ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria. The warship left for the Persian Gulf on Thursday (Nov. 19), six days after the massacre.
French delegation meets Army Chief
French Ambassador, in Colombo, Jean-Marin Schuh, and Rear Admiral Antonie Beaussant, Joint Commander of the French Forces in the Indian Ocean, paid a courtesy call on Friday afternoon (Nov 20) on Army Commander Lt. Gen. Crishanthe De Silva. Rear Admiral Beaussant arrived in Colombo to attend the sixth edition of the Galle Dialogue 2015 International maritime conference, organized by the Navy. Having expressed condolences, Lt. Gen. De Silva offered to share Sri Lanka’s experience in combating terrorism.
Sri Lanka can share her experience in fighting terrorism with France, as well as other members of the European Union. In spite of on and off setbacks and shortcomings, Sri Lankan police and military gained vast experience in fighting small groups of terrorist infiltrators, not only in the then operational areas, but Colombo, as well. Having sponsored terrorism, in Sri Lanka, in accordance with her Geo-political strategies, India, too, experienced small groups of Sri Lankan infiltrators, mounting attacks in the late 80s and early 90s.
Before further discussing India’s experience, in hunting down Sri Lankans, and Indians, involved in the May 1991 Rajiv Gandhi assassination, it would be pertinent to recollect the unprecedented LTTE assault on the World Trade Centre, and the Hotel Galadari, before a small group of terrorists seized control of a section of Lake House, during Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga’s presidency. The LTTE struck around 7, on the morning of Oct 15, 1997, three days after the opening of the World Trade Centre. In spite of heightened security, in the city, and its suburbs, and severe restrictions on the movement of people from areas under LTTE control, to the South, the LTTE succeeded in infiltrating again. Prabhakaran mounted a devastating attack, on the Central Bank, on the morning of January 31, 1996.
The LTTE developed a fine strategy for infiltration. Those tasked with mounting attacks even used places of religious worship to coordinate attacks.
Europe under ISIS pressure
The ISIS would have found it relatively easy to infiltrate Paris due to lax border controls. Absence of effective security measures, within French borders, obviously facilitated the largest ever coordinated assault, within EU borders. The French assault, on the Saint Denis hideout, revealed their inexperience in handling such a situation. The firing of over 5,000 rounds of ammunition, during the siege, on the suspects safe house, revealed the absence of a clear strategy. Obviously, two hugely embarrassing incidents,, in the wake of Russia having to acknowledge the possibility of ISIS planting a bomb in a Russian airliner, last month. The Oct 31 blast, over Sinai, killed 224 persons, on their way from Egypt to Saint Petersburg.
In the aftermath of the May 21, 1991, suicide bombing that killed the then Congress leader, Rajiv Gandhi, at Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu, India launched a major manhunt for those responsible. The wanted included both Sri Lankans and their Indian accomplices. The operation, spearheaded by the Special Investigation Unit of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), lasted nearly 100 days. Perhaps, Europe should closely study the LTTE infiltration, as well as the Indian search operation, leading to the elimination of the killer squad. There had never been an operation similar to that undertaken by India against a foreign undercover team.
At the time of humiliating security failure, Tamil Nadu had been under direct rule of the Central Government of India due to dismissal of the then DMK government. The take over took place after the Centre blamed the DMK for rapid deterioration of law and order situation.
The French tracked down the Belgian mastermind, of the Paris massacre, after having followed Hasna Ait Boulahcen, who also died in the police raid, whereas India was lucky to have retrieved a camera, from the Gandhi assassination site, which contained a series of shots of the scene, before the blast, captured by an Indian, on the LTTE’s payroll. The Indian photographer had been positioned close to the blast and he, too, perished. As the digital technology hadn’t been available at that time, the Indians didn’t realize the paramount importance of available evidence until the film roll in Chinon was developed. If not for the LTTE overwhelming desire to have the Gandhi’s assassination captured on film, the killer squad could have easily returned to Jaffna, across the Palk Strait.
The killer squad (remember, the team comprised Sri Lankans and Indians) carried out a ‘dry run’ at a propaganda meeting of the then Prime Minister V.P. Singh, at Chennai on May 7, 1991. Clearly, Indian security agencies hadn’t considered a real threat from the LTTE though its battlefield capabilities were known.
Israeli ambassador on LTTE
Former New Delhi-based Israeli ambassador to Sri Lanka, Mark Sofer, during an interview with this writer, in early 2011 said that his country was a victim of suicide bombing, pioneered by the LTTE. Sofer said that many Israeli civilians had been killed and wounded due to human bombs and Sri Lanka should be proud of achieving military victory over the LTTE. Sofer emphasized the strongest possible measures against terrorism and those sponsoring violence. At that time, Europe wouldn’t have at least considered the possibility of ever experiencing a security nightmare. Of the 10 ISIS personnel, killed in Paris, on Nov 13 and Nov 18, at least four certainly committed suicide by exploding explosives-laden vests.
Sofer said that the LTTE had influenced those causing mayhem in the Middle East. He alleged that LTTE suicide attacks had inspired those targeting Jewish targets.
It would be pertinent to recall that India created the LTTE, in the 80s, and the West paved the way for gradual build-up of the ISIS in accordance with its overall political-security strategy until it was too late. Having received Western financial and military backing, including advanced training, ISIS took on the West with devastating success.
LTTE inspires Oslo massacre
The LTTE, which once received the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) recognition as the sole representative of the Tamil speaking people, inspired violence abroad. Norway’s worst atrocity is a case in point.
Norwegian Anders Behring Brevik massacred 77 persons, in July, 2011, in two separate attacks in Norway. Before the mass slaughter,
Breivik, in his 1,518 manifesto, which was released hours before he carried out the massacre, said had felt that Europe should follow the LTTE example of expelling the Muslims from Sri Lanka He had interpreted the expulsion of Muslims, from the North, in October/November 1990, by the LTTE, at gun point, as a move by the then government of Sri Lanka to drive out the Muslim community.
The killer’s manifesto also referred to the Anuradhapura massacre, in 1985, and the slaughter of Muslims at the Kattankudy Mosque, in August 1990.
Remember, the al Qaeda attack on USS Cole in the port of Aden, on Oct 12, 2000, prompted the LTTE to proudly claim the operation was inspired by its own tactics. The mission killed 17 US personnel and injured 39 others.
The international community never bothered to examine the LTTE influence in grooming international terrorism.
The state-of-the-art Destroyer was rammed by a small craft, laden with explosives, which blew a 40 foot hole in the side of the guided missile ship.
The operation was very much similar to the Black Sea Tiger hit on surveillance command ship, ‘Edithara’, in the Kankesanthurai harbour, in the mid 90s.
Sea Tigers employed similar tactics in another successful attack on another SLN vessel, ‘Abeetha’, off Point Pedro, on May 4, 1991.
Soosai on Al Qaeda attack on USS Cole
Thillaiyampalam Sivanesan, aka Soosai, in an exclusive interview with BBC’s Francis Harrison, during the Oslo-managed Ceasefire Agreement, boasted Al Qaeda copied tactics from the LTTE. Soosai is quoted as having said that other terrorist groups should learn from the LTTE as the Al Qaeda had already copied them.
The interview, with Soosai, recorded during the LTTE celebrations of Heroes’ Day, and broadcast over BBC Television, was posted on the BBC Website’s South Asia section, under the heading, "Tamil Tigers Reveal Suicide Secrets" as a video clip. The news feature introduced the Black Tigers as "the Original Suicide Bombers of the World."
Referring to the attack on USS Cole, Soosai said "They are using our tactics. I think in Yemen they used our strategy of suicide attack to blow up an American ship. That is exactly what we used to do."
Soosai is believed to have been killed, in May 2009, while crossing the Nanthikadal lagoon with LTTE leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, and his family.
Examination of LTTE’s project to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi, during the polls campaign in Tamil Nadu, should be a case study for Western intelligence services. The LTTE picked Pakischandran, of Udippidy, Jaffna, to spearhead the operation. The man was also identified as Raja Arumainayagam. The operative was also called ‘one-eyed Jack’, Sivarasan, Raghu and Raghu Anna. Having received military training from Indians, in the early 80s, Sivarasan had been a veteran undercover operative responsible for a spate of operations in India, including high profile killing of the EPRLF leader, Padmanabha, and 12 of his key associates, on June 19, 1990. India turned a blind eye to LTTE operations in Tamil Nadu. Having wiped out the EPRLF group, Sivarasan, who personally carried out the attack with another LTTE operative, returned to Jaffna. Although, Sivarasan could have crossed Palk Straits few times, subsequently to carry out Prabhakaran dictates though there was no record of such movements. However, the Sivarasan’s hit squad, assigned to assassinate Gandhi, reached Tamil Nadu on May Day, 1991, after leaving Madagal, on the previous day. The squad included two female suicide cadres. The squad stayed with Indians committed to the eelam cause until the May 21 assassination of Gandhi. Interestingly, Sivaran, wounded in action during Operation Liberation, was believed to have been moved by the Indian Air Force, Jaffna to India, soon after the signing of the Indo-Lanka Accord, in late July, 1987.
Sivarasan, and the other suicide cadre, evaded Indian security agencies for near 100 days until troops surrounded their Bangalore hideout, on Aug. 19, 1991. Following a 30 - minute exchange of fire fight, the Indians laid siege to the building with the Black Cats deciding to delay a frontal assault until the next day. When the Black Cats entered the building without facing resistance, they found seven bodies, two female and five men, including Sivarasan; the man with many aliases Sivaran shot himself in the head while others took cyanide. The dead included Subha, the second suicide bomber sent in case Dhanu, for some reason, couldn’t go through the operation.
India disposed the bodies of those Sri Lankans perished in crackdown. At least 21 Sri Lankans committed suicide to avoid arrest. In addition to them, suicide cadre Dhanu claimed the life of Rajiv Gandhi. India never offered to send bodies of those terrorists back, nor Sri Lanka ever asked for them.
Western media, particularly some British media outfits, glorified the LTTE. The BBC’s coverage of LTTE suicide cadres promoted those who believed in violence.
In the wake of the Paris massacre, Europe stepped up security with Belgium recently experiencing a massive security scare.
The unprecedented crisis will compel Western powers to review granting of citizenship to outsiders. Tamils, of Sri Lankan origin, received citizenship at Sri Lanka’s expense. Having obtained citizenship of a particular country, they put pressure on that government and also worked jointly with similar groups to achieve political objectives. Sri Lanka having to face international scrutiny is a case in point.