Gov. Christie’s slammed Hillary at RNC over Boko Haram, but her Tamil Tiger connections need closer scrutiny
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie addressing the Republican National Convention in Cleveland July 19, slammed Hillary Clinton over several of her failures while serving as secretary of state, presenting them as indictments and asking the audience to decide “Guilty, or Not Guilty.”
One of the indictment charges dealt with terrorism which Americans cite as the second most important issue on which they will elect the next occupant of the White House (the first is the economy). Christie presented details of Clinton’s handling of Nigeria’s Boko Haram during her tenure as secretary of state and the audience roared back, “guilty.” Here’s what he said:
Orlando, San Bernardino Massacres would be OK with Hillary if the Tigers had carried them out?
“In Nigeria, Hillary Clinton amazingly fought for two years to keep an al Qaeda affiliate off the terrorist watch list. Now, what happens because of this reckless action by the candidate who is the self-proclaimed champion of women all around the world. These Al Qaida terrorists abducted hundreds of innocent young women two years ago. These school girls are still missing today.” Christie went on to ask: “ And what was the solution from the Obama-Clinton team?” and answered: “ A hashtag campaign,’ referring to her tweet (“bring back our girls) that followed the kidnapping of 200 Nigerian school girls in April 2014.
CNN’s Reality Check Team came back quickly calling the accusation false because there was no proof the delay in designating BH could be directly traced to Clinton.
“While Clinton was head of the State Department at the time, Christie says she “fought” to keep them off the list and there is no evidence that she herself was personally responsible for the delay in the designation. Our verdict: false.”
CNN apparently does not believe in the buck stopping at the top.
“Terrorism is a tool … ” Click on image to listen to Hillary Clinton in 2007 giving a pass to Tamil Tigers, a group responsible for dozens of suicide bombing attacks on civilians.
For a smoking gun on the Democratic nominee’s reckless pandering to terrorist groups, Governor Christie would have done better to look at her connections to a group the FBI said in 2008 was “among the most dangerous and deadly extremists in the world,” viz., Sri Lanka’s Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, aka “Tamil Tigers.”
It’s a group for whom she’s advocated a “raisons d’être” approach, meaning, if the Tamil Tigers
had committed the San Bernardino or the Orlando massacres, Hillary Clinton would be OK with it.
This “nuanced” approach to justifying suicide bombings and child soldiers came out in an interview she had with the British national daily The Guardian on October 23, 2007. At the time, Mrs. Clinton was running against then Senator Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination in the 2008 primary.
The newspaper’s Michael Tomasky asked “do you think that the terrorists hate us for our freedoms, or do you think they have specific geopolitical objectives?”
Clinton’s response was that all terrorists are not alike and that one must try to understand their objectives:
“Well, I believe that terrorism is a tool that has been utilized throughout history to achieve certain objectives. Some have been ideological, others territorial. The bottom line is, you can’t lump all terrorists together. And I think we’ve got to do a much better job of clarifying what are the motivations, the raisons d’être of terrorists,” — Hillary Clinton, Presidential Candidate 2008.
“Well, I believe that terrorism is a tool that has been utilized throughout history to achieve certain objectives. Some have been ideological, others territorial. The bottom line is, you can’t lump all terrorists together. And I think we’ve got to do a much better job of clarifying what are the motivations, the raisons d’être of terrorists,” she responded.
She went on to explain that “… what the Tamil Tigers are fighting for in Sri Lanka, or the Basque separatists in Spain, or the insurgents in al-Anbar province may only be connected by tactics. They may not share all that much in terms of what is the philosophical or ideological underpinning. And I think one of our mistakes has been painting with such a broad brush …”
Clinton’s approach was clearly at odds with US policy. The Tamil Tigers as well as the leading Basque separatist group Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) had been on the State Department’s designated list of foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs) and both had waged decades-long terror campaigns for separatism. As the FBI noted, the Tigers had “quite a resume” having:
- Perfected the use of suicide bombers;
- Invented the suicide belt;
- Pioneered the use of women in suicide attacks;
- Murdered some 4,000 people in the past two years alone; and
- Assassinated two world leaders—the only terrorist organization to do so.
(Right) Tamil Tiger supporter Raj Rajaratnam who bankrolled the terror outfit to the tune of $3.5 m. The hedge fund billionaire who is serving a 11-year term in federal prison for insider trading launched “Tamils for Hillary Clinton” to fundraise for her 2008 presidential bid. The group sought Clinton’s help to get the Tigers removed from the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations.
The Tamil Tigers used thousands of child soldiers, some as young as ten. Photo from The Telegraph
At the time Clinton had the infamous interview with The Guardian, over a dozen Tamil Tiger operatives were awaiting trial following arrests by the FBI in the US and Canada for attempting to buy weapons, including surface-to-air missiles, and trying to bribe State Department officials to have the Tigers removed from the list of designated Foreign Terrorists Organizations (FTO).
On November 15, 2007, just 3 weeks after the interview, the US Treasury stepped in to strip the Tamil Tigers of its main funding source in the US by naming the Maryland-based Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under Executive Order 13224. “TRO passed off its operations as charitable, when in fact it was raising money for a designated terrorist group responsible for heinous acts of terrorism,” Adam J. Szubin, Director of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said at the time.
Clinton’s Guardian interview had the effect of energizing the Tamil diaspora that supported the terror outfit by running efficient propaganda machines and raising substantial funds through extortion, drugs, and human trafficking. Tamilnet, the Tamil Tigers’ quasi-official organ headlined Clinton’s words as a call to “a nuanced” approach to terrorism. Five weeks later, the LTTE carried out 2 deadly attacks targeting civilians. In the second attack, November 28, a parcel bomb at a crowded Department Store in Colombo killed 20 civilians.
Regardless, of its intensive terror campaign, candidate Clinton continued warming up to the Tamil Tigers. Among those seeking Clinton’s help to get the group removed from the US State Department’s designated list was a US Tamil diaspora organization that raised funds for her presidential bid under the mantle “Tamils for Clinton.” In December 2007, she reportedly managed to get the fundraising group a meeting with then former President Clinton to enable it to press its case on behalf of the Tigers.
When it comes to Clinton controversies, there’s usually a billionaire in the picture. In the Nigerian story, there’s Gilbert Chagoury, a construction magnate who donated millions to the Clinton Foundation in addition to contributing thousands to an outside group that helped re-elect President Bill Clinton in 1996. While Chagoury was not directly connected to Boko Haram, as founder of one of Nigeria’s largest construction conglomerates, he is believed to have had a financial interest in the impact on Nigeria if the US designated Boko Haram a foreign terrorist organization.
With the Tamil Tigers, there’s Raj Rajaratnam the hedge fund billionaire who is currently serving time in federal prison after being found guilty in 2011 for what is considered the biggest insider trading racket in the US.
An ABC News article credits Rajaratnam with founding Tamils for Clinton, a diaspora group which raised funds for Clinton’s 2008 presidential bid. In December 2007, Hillary managed to get the group a meeting with then former President Clinton to enable it to press its case for removing the Tigers from the State Department’s FTO list.
Rajaratnam contributed as much as $3.5 million to the Tigers’ fundraising arm, the Maryland-based Tamil Rehabilitation Organization which was shut down in 2007. For his role in bankrolling terror, Rajaratnam is currently being sued in US court by Sri Lankan victims and families of those killed in several bombings carried out by the Tigers.
The Wall Street tycoon and his wife were major contributors to the DSCC and to a number of individual Democratic congressional and senate campaigns. Recipients of the Rajararatnam largesse included Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer and the presidential campaigns of Mrs. Clinton and Barack Obama. Rajaratnam also contributed $30,800 to President Obama’s inauguration fund.
Rajaratnam served as a major trustee of the American India Foundation (AIF), founded in 2001 at the initiative of Bill Clinton. It so happens that several AIF trustees ended up being accused of or convicted of insider trading, campaign finance violations, and other illegal activities. Among them, hotelier Sant Chatwal who, pled guilty in 2014 to a conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws. He was accused of illegally funneling $180,000 through straw donors to political candidates, including Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.
Federal investigators reportedly recorded Chatwal talking to an informant about using contributions to influence politicians.
“Without that nobody will even talk to you. When they are in need of money…the money you give then they are always for you,” he said. “That’s the only way to buy them, get into the system. … What, what else is there? That’s the only thing.”
In the final days of the war in May 2009, with the Sri Lankan military closing in on the LTTE forces who were cornered into a sliver of land and holding thousands of Tamil civilians hostage, Clinton tried a last ditch attempt to save the terror outfit from certain defeat. In the cache of her emails released last year by the State Department were some from the last days of the war which indicate that Clinton sympathizing with the Tigers had been pressuring the International Monetary Fund to withhold funds from the Sri Lankan government. An email dated May 4, 2009 suggests IMF displeasure at the Secretary of State “ordering/telling” the IMF to suspend crucial funding. The email also suggests that Clinton stepped on Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s toes in her effort to save the Tamil Tigers from defeat.
In its latest Country Report on Terrorism, the State Department warns that despite the group’s military defeat, the LTTE’s financial network of support continued operations in 2015. “The group used its international contacts and the large Tamil diaspora in North America, Europe, and Asia to procure weapons, communications, funds, and other needed supplies. The group
employed charities as fronts to collect and divert funds for its activities.”
Tamils for Hillary Clinton continues to actively support Clinton’s 2016 presidential bid and has an audio recording of the Guardian interview on its Facebook page. On the same page, a reader questions (in Tamil) if America actually supports the Tigers, and gets the following response: “Hillary supports LTTE.”
By Hassina Leelarathna