By Camelia Nathaniel/Daily News
Colombo, August 4: Since 2009 after the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was militarily defeated, there have been several attempts to revamp the LTTE military outfit. From 2012 there have been 12 such attempts that are on record. All of these incidents have had some form of foreign hand in them. The intelligence units are investigating these incidents but international connections in them are already more than evident.
In March 2012, there was an incident reported in Trincomalee where an assassination attempt was made on a former Eelam Peoples’ Democratic Party (EPDP) member. Investigations had revealed that the attempt was orchestrated by an LTTE network overseas. Then, in November the same year, an LTTE flag was raised at a telephone tower in Jaffna in line with the LTTE heroes’ week. That too was found to have been orchestrated from overseas.
Then in April 2014, there was another major incident happened in Vavuniya, where a group of LTTE suspects had an encounter with the Army and were shot. They were identified as Sundaralingam Kajeepan alias Thevihan, Selvanayagam Kajeepan alias Gobi and Navaratnam Navaneethan alias Appan.
There are reports that Tamil Diaspora groups mandated Gopi to lead a Tiger revival.
In July 2015, there was another attempt by LTTE groups who had come from India to revamp the banned outfit. In March 2016 a suicide jacket was found in Jaffna. The suicide jacket and a stock of explosives and ammunition were recovered from a house there. In June 2018 a uniform, a flag, bombs and several military equipment belonging to the LTTE were taken into police custody while they were being transported in a three-wheeler in Oddusuddan, in Mullaitivu district. Two individuals including the driver of the three-wheeler were arrested in connection with this incident, while the third suspect had escaped.
Then again in January 2019 in Puliyankulam, the local police had received a tip-off that a person with a suspicious bag was seen in the Puliyankulam- Puthur area. Upon the arrival of the police, the suspect abandoned the bag and fled. The police had recovered four hand grenades, a pistol, ammunition, two phones, a solar powered phone charger, protein pills and several other items. The phones had contained footage of LTTE training, according to the security forces.
In August 2019, Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) officers arrested six suspects in the North believed to have been planning terrorist activity. The arrests came after information was elicited from the Palai Hospital JMO Dr. Sinniah Sivaruban who had been earlier detained on suspicion. Dr. Sivaruban was arrested by the Army for suspected terrorist activities on August 18, 2019 and handed over to the Jaffna branch of the TID. An alleged plan hatched to assassinate former Minister and EPDP Leader Douglas Devananda and former LTTE Military Wing Leader Vinayagamoorthy Muralidaran alias Karuna Amman had also been uncovered during the interrogation of Dr. Sivaruban.
Then in October 2019, in Trincomalee, a person was arrested with a T-56 and investigations revealed that he had been aiming to assassinate Karuna Amman. This incident too was traced back to overseas connections.
Most recent attempt
Then just prior to the COVID-19 outbreak in March this year (2020) a person was arrested in possession of a drone camera and other military equipment in the Palai area. In all of these incidents investigations have led to international connections and according to reliable sources, the funding and instigation to conduct these incidents has come from overseas. The main aim was to engage the ex-LTTE cadres and attempt to revamp the LTTE military wing.
The latest incident was the explosion in Iyakkachchi, in Kilinochchi, where an ex-LTTE cadre was injured while manufacturing an explosives device suspected to be used on Black Tigers’ Day. This ex-LTTE member identified as Thangarasa Thevathasan alias Gangai Aathman who was a rehabilitated former LTTE cadre, was undergoing treatment at the Anuradhapura Hospital where he died. He had been transferred from Kilinochchi Hospital.
According to the police, the deceased was making bombs to mark Black Tigers’ day, which falls on July 5th when one of the home-made devices exploded prematurely in his house. He had operated under many names such as Thangarajah Thevathasan his LTTE name Gangai Athman alias Kavinjan. He joined the LTTE in 1994 and having participated in many operations, he worked in the LTTE Intelligence Wing. During a search of his house, the police found two home-made bombs and detonators.
Following the explosion, the Terrorist Investigation Division of the police arrested the victim’s wife, who is a school teacher from Iyakkachchi and another suspect. It has been reported that the wife is also a former LTTE cadre. Thevathasan was trained as a special intelligence operative by the LTTE. He would be sent to befriend security forces personnel by pretending to be disgruntled with the LTTE. Once he got the trust and confidence of the security force personnel he would gather information from them for the LTTE. He had also worked to get around and recruit military personnel to provide information to the LTTE.
In 2005 he came to Vavuniya on one of his LTTE missions to recruit army or police personnel as informants for the LTTE. Then he came to Colombo in 2006 and engaged with LTTE activities together with senior LTTE members. There he worked under a senior LTTE leader named Muttappan who led LTTE operations in Colombo. He then worked in Colombo under Muttappan for around a year. He then reportedly went overseas.
Generally, a tactic used by the LTTE was to say they had fled from the LTTE and act as informants for the military, but in fact this was just a ploy to get the military’s confidence. Then once the military recruited them as an informant and they would gain access to their information which they would then pass on to the LTTE.
Thevathasan left for Qatar in late 2006 and returned in early 2007. Upon his return, he is apprehended by the TID and interrogated. He confessed that he was in the LTTE but as he was disgruntled he left the group and fled to Qatar. But as the job was not satisfying he had returned. Then while the investigation was ongoing, he was remanded and eventually sentenced. After the war ended in 2009, the process of rehabilitating these ex LTTE cadres was initiated and through a court order Thevathashan was sent for rehabilitation in 2012 and released in 2013 after completing a year in rehabilitation.
After his release, he returned to Jaffna, his native place, enewed his past links and was reactivated through an overseas network run by a person named Maniarasan. Intelligence revealed that the revival was done being attempted at the behest of parties in Europe, mainly Switzerland, Norway and France, and from India.
Maniarasan from France
Maniarasan from France is one of the key figures engaged in trying to revamp the LTTE military outfit using vulnerable Tamil youths and ex-LTTE cadres. Thevathasan had had close contact with this Maniarasan in France. Thevathasan was married previously in 2007 but after his imprisonment and the fall of the LTTE the marriage ended. He then lived with a school teacher from Iyakkachchi who was also arrested by the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) over the recent incident. A former terrorist, she shared the same ideology of creating a mono-ethnic separatist state. They settled in Iyakkachchi. Thevathasan had also contested the 2015 election under the Crusaders for Democracy as a candidate for Jaffna.
Manirasan had been calling Thevathasan from France constantly and pushing him to keep the LTTE sentiment alive. July is a special month for the LTTE and black Tigers’ day is celebrated on July 05th. Hence, they had planned a series of events to coincide with this commemoration. This is a very special period for the Tamil Diaspora. During July LTTE figures had carried out several small incidents within the span of around two weeks. Among them were a doll packed with explosives being left near an army camp and a light switch being left again near a camp which was wired to explode. However, these attempts were thwarted by the vigilance of the military personnel.
Thevathasan had then started making Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) locally by packing empty tuna cans with explosives. He had made several earlier and buried them in his garden. It was he was making two such IEDs one accidently exploded. Knowing that this would be problematic, several other supporters had also gathered and buried the remnants of the explosion. They made up a story that the wife had come with a candle while he was filling petrol into his motorcycle and that it had then exploded. They had then taken Thevathasan to hospital.
However, when the security forces went to examine the site of the explosion with sniffer dogs, the dogs had led the military investigators to s spot in the back garden of Thevathasan’s house. When they dug up the spot they had found several other tuna cans filled with explosives and made into IED’s. This proved that there was something more than just the bottle of petrol exploding due to a candle.
The next day another spot in the garden was dug up and a banner designed for black tiger day, several other IEDs were also found. Then it was very clear to the military what had taken place. Upon investigating Thevathasan’s background his past story came to light.
Investigations conducted so far revealed that Thangarasa Thevathasan had acted on the instructions of one Maniarasan, an ex-LTTE intelligence wing cadre operating from France. Technical analysis of his phone by the intelligence units found a few numbers connected to France; +33786xxxxxx and +3375xxxxxxx. He had contacted the latter number via Viber at 1100 hours on 03.07.2020, on the day of the explosion.
During interrogation Thevethasan had revealed that he maintained contact with Manirasan from France since 2018 and provided information of Tamil persons, providing information to the Security Forces, persons involved in crimes / illegal activities and other details of interest. Manirasan had sent money to Thevathasan from France to conduct these activities and a large sum of money has been sent during June 2020 to purchase a motor cycle.
Currently, investigations are on regarding Maniarasan’s connection with Thevathasan and his role in the attempt to revive the LTTE. The authorities are also investigating whether the Maniarasan in France is the same person who had been an LTTE leader. There is also a doubt if this is another person who is posing as Maniarasan.