US Lax on Anti-Lanka Terrorism

Despite repeated appeals by the Sri Lankan government for assistance to tackle terrorist elements among the Tamil Diaspora in the US and other Western countries, the US has chosen to ‘limit’ counter-terrorism cooperation with Lanka.

The US State Department’s Country Reports on Terrorism for 2013, which was released on May 1, stated that counter-terrorism cooperation between the US and Lanka was ‘limited’. The US had made no arrests related to the terrorist threat to Sri Lanka and the Lankan police did not participate in the State Department’s Anti-terrorism Assistance (ATA) program in 2013, it said.

While acknowledging that the Lankan government was worried that the international financial network of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was active even four years after the end of Eelam War IV and that revival of terrorism was possible, the report said that the US had opted for non-cooperation because it was concerned that Lanka had not investigated the widely reported allegations of ‘atrocities and violations of international law’ committed by the government and the LTTE during the war.

The report accused Lanka of using the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) “to sometimes stifle dissent among political opponents or others critical of the government.” It also noted that there were criticisms that the Lankan government’s search for the financial network of the LTTE was “extended well beyond its utility and expanded to target legitimate political opponents of the government.”

Camelia Nathaniel, a Lankan specialist on the LTTE, says that the worrying aspect is the involvement of top politicians of the West and neighbouring Tamil Nadu in the activities of pro-LTTE groups. She recalls that on February 24, 2010, the then British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, and the Shadow Foreign Secretary, William Hague, attended  the inauguration of the Global Tamil Forum (GTF) headed by Rev S J Emmanuel, a close associate of LTTE chief Prabhakaran.

Closer home, the pro-LTTE Diaspora has strong links with TN politicians Vaiko, P Nedumaran, S Seeman and T Thirumavalavan, Nathaniel points out.

Last month, the Lankans designated under UN Security Council Resolution 1373, 16 entities and 424 individuals in the Tamil Diaspora for having links with the LTTE, branded as a terrorist body.

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