US backs Lankan claim of existence of LTTE`s int`l network

The US has backed the Sri Lankan claim that an international network of sympathisers of the LTTE exists, channelling funds for the banned outfit to procure arms and other supplies.

Colombo: The US has backed the Sri Lankan claim that an international network of sympathisers of the LTTE exists, channelling funds for the banned outfit to procure arms and other supplies.

"The LTTE employed charities as fronts to collect and divert funds for their activities in North America, Europe, and Asia to procure weapons, communications, funding, and other needed supplies," according to US State Department`s Bureau of Counter-terrorism 2013 annual report.

"Despite its military defeat at the hands of the Sri Lankan government in 2009, the LTTE`s international network of sympathisers and financial support persists," the report released yesterday said.

In early 2009, Sri Lankan forces recaptured the LTTE`s key strongholds, including their capital of Kilinochchi.

In May that year, government forces declared victory over the LTTE after defeating the last fighting forces of the outfit and killed their leader Prahbakaran. The military onslaught brought an end to nearly three-decade-long civil war in the country in which up to 40,000 Tamil civilians were believed to be killed.

"There have been no known attacks in Sri Lanka that could verifiably be attributed to the LTTE since the end of the war, but LTTE`s financial network of support continued to operate throughout 2013," it said.

The report further notes that while the LTTE remains listed as a foreign terrorist organisation in the US, the rebels are known to be operating from Sri Lanka and India.

According to the report, the Sri Lankan government remained concerned that there existed an international network of financial support to the LTTE.

Colombo maintains a strong military presence in the post-conflict areas in the north, fearing a possible re-emergence of pro-LTTE sympathisers. On April 11, government troops killed three key operatives of the LTTE.

Sri Lanka`s top defence official Gotabhaya Rajapaksa had recently said: "Extremist elements within the diaspora were mobilised by LTTE operatives and front organisations in more than 30 countries around the world to help fund terrorist activities in Sri Lanka."

He had said the terrorist funds mobilised by groups linked to LTTE is estimated to have been between USD 50 to 75 million on an annual basis from 1993 to 2002, and USD 200 million per annum from 2002 to 2008.

In late March, Sri Lanka designated some 16 organisations and over 400 individuals living in various parts of the world as those raising funds to support the banned outfit.

Sri Lanka has already alerted the Interpol for the arrest of Nediyavan, regarded as the current LTTE leader and believed to living in Norway.

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