Friday, March 6, 2009

Harkat-u-Mujahideen could be LTTE’s foreign hand - Security expert B. Raman

India’s top security expert said that five South Asian countries hit by the menace of terrorism should form a common brain trust to jointly deal with the threat. Security expert B. Raman, Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies said this in Chennai while referring to the attack on Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore.

Asked about the speculation that the terrorist group Harkat-u-Mujahideen (HUM), which maintained close links with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) could be responsible for the :Lahore attack, Raman said in an interview, "If it turns out that the HUM had a hand in it, either it might have carried it out at its own instance to express its continuing solidarity with the LTTE or at the instance of the LTTE, which has not been able to carry out any successful terrorist strike in Sri Lanka recently."

The expert also warned that as the LTTE is finally defeated and its terrorist infrastructure in Sri Lanka neutralised, it could try to keep the movement alive through acts of terrorism in foreign countries.

"Jihadi terrorism emanating from the sanctuaries in Pakistani territory has assumed a pan-sub-continental dimension equally threatening all the countries of the sub-continent-- Afghanistan, Pakistan, , India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka," he said. "It is time these countries constitute a common counter-terrorism brains trust to deal with this threat jointly. Otherwise, they will continue bleeding separately."

Raman pointed out that HUM is the closest ally of the LTTE in Pakistan. "LTTE has had a long history of relationship relating to arms supply and drug smuggling with HUM".

He also said that Pro-LTTE members of the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora and the terrorist organisations of the world with which it has had fraternal ties such as the Hizbollah and the HUM would come in handy especially at a time the movement is routed in Sri Lanka.

Raman said that it was illogical for the BBC to rule out the possibility of either the direct or indirect involvement of the LTTE on the ground that there are Tamils like Muthtiah Muralitharan in the Sri Lankan team. "The LTTE had killed a number of prominent Tamils of Sri Lanka, who had distinguished themselves in various fields. It has been using thousands of Tamil civilians as human shields to protect itself from final defeat. Why should it have qualms over the killing of Sri Lankan Tamil cricketers?" he asked. "The LTTE is now a desperate organisation. It can do desperate things."

Raman said that the HUM came to the notice of the Indian intelligence for the first time in 1993 when it supplied a consignment of arms and ammunition to the LTTE, which was loaded into an LTTE ship at Karachi with the complicity of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

It came to notice in Kashmir in 1995 when it kidnapped some Western tourists under the name Al Faran. It was after this that the US designated it as a foreign terrorist organisation in October,1997, under its then name of the Harkat-ul-Ansar.