Saturday, March 7, 2009

Sri Lankan report links LTTE with LeT

COLOMBO: Military links between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the militant based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) organization go back to the early 1990s, the Sri Lankan Presidential Secretariat said on Friday.

As early as 1992, LTTE leader Sathasivam Krishnakumar alias Kittu had negotiated an arms deal with the militants based in Peshawar, the presidential research unit said in a report.

The links date back to 1992, the report said, when Kittu, a prominent strategist of the LTTE at the time, negotiated arms purchases for the LTTE in Peshawar. In 1993, an Indian intelligence agency identified the vessel in which Kittu was transporting the weapons for the LTTE. The ship was destroyed at sea and Kittu was killed.

There had also been speculations, the report said, that the LTTE might have had external help in firing missiles which brought down two Avro aircraft near Palali airbase in April 1995, killing a large number of civilians. ‘It was believed at the time that the LTTE may have used mercenaries with links to Peshawar or Afghanistan, to fire the missiles which hit the aircraft, links which have remained till today.’

Intelligence sources were aware that LTTE’s links with the LeT continued and there were ‘substantiated reports’ of the Sri Lankan terrorists group and LeT exchanging terrorist expertise, LeT supplying arms to the LTTE, and both carrying out joint training.

Suspicions about LTTE’s hand in the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team emanated from the aspects of planning and the resources that were available to the attackers, the report said.

‘The information that the attackers had planned to take the Sri Lankan players hostage, is also being viewed by intelligence sources in South Asian capitals, in the context of LTTE’s current position of near defeat, and the search for a bargaining tool for its call for a ceasefire.’

The report said that some Indian analysts were of the view that had ‘the attackers been successful and taken all or any of the Sri Lankan players hostage, and used them for bargaining with Sri Lanka, or either with India or Pakistan or both, it would have led to a major diplomatic crisis in the region.’

The reports cite a statement by the US State Department, which says that it was an attack, not only on innocent civilians, but also on the positive relations between Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

The presidential statement said that the US viewpoint came very close to suspicions of well-informed intelligence sources that the LTTE might have been trying to seek revenge for the strong support that Pakistan had given to Sri Lanka in its fight against terror.

‘This high-level support has gone on from 1999, and has contributed much to the LTTE’s current position of being on the brink of defeat,’ the report said