Revelations of ops could hinder efforts to seize LTTE assets
Media hindered move to take over LTTE aircraft – FM

Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama said that Sri Lanka’s efforts to seize LTTE assets overseas, including some aircraft could be jeopardised by reports revealing the ongoing negotiations with the international community. He told The Island that recent press reports concerning several aircraft owned by the LTTE kept in a particular country had hindered Sri Lanka’s efforts to take them over.

He urged the UNP and Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe to be patient until the government concluded the ongoing operation. He said that the government would definitely share information with the Opposition once the military achieved its objectives.

He said: "It is a well known fact that the LTTE, through its international network, has amassed a vast amount of assets for terrorist purposes. These assets comprise bank accounts, ships and aircraft for the conveyance of weapons, resorting to human smuggling and drug trafficking, commercial establishments, educational institutions etc. No foreign government would ever wish to admit the presence or the build-up of such assets by terrorist organisations on their soil as there would be severe international ramifications. This holds true with regard to the LTTE’s international asset bases, especially considering the number of countries which have proscribed that organisation.

The accepted methodology is that when taking action against a terrorist organisation’s international network, a government would seek to work confidentially through intelligence sources and the concerned foreign governments and agencies in order to avoid sabotage and succeed. This exactly is the process followed by the Government of Sri Lanka in relation to the arrest of K. Pathmanathan (KP), the head of the LTTE’s Procurement Wing. It may be recalled that the operation of bringing Pathmanathan to Sri Lanka was carried out behind a heavy curtain of confidentiality and secrecy. Else, we may not have succeeded.

I wish to also refer to the destroying of arsenals in mid-sea by the Sri Lanka Navy during the height of the conflict with the LTTE. In this instance, too, intelligence was received with regard to the LTTE having ships laden with ammunition on the high seas. The destruction of the ships by the Navy was reported only after the event. If we had publicised the same ahead of the said operation, no government would have ever helped us.

On the other hand, there was much media speculation on the ownership of light aircraft by the LTTE parked in a particular country. I myself met the relevant counterparts in this connection but due to certain media reports speculating on the action by Sri Lanka, hindered seizing these assets. Furthermore, this aspect was also used as a psychological operation by the LTTE viz-a-vis the defensive action which needed to be mounted by the security forces personnel.

There are a number of actors sharing information with the Government of Sri Lanka on money laundering, human smuggling and arms procurement, including former LTTE cadres and sympathizers in the Diaspora and the international community. In fact, the information became public on the efforts to establish a Provisional Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam in a third country, and on receiving this information, the Foreign Ministry acted swiftly to arrest any further developments in this connection.

It is blatantly clear that giving pre-publicity to such confidential operations would only undermine and jeopardise their success and threaten the national security of Sri Lanka. I believe, therefore, that the Leader of the Opposition should bear this in mind in order to avoid endangering the very sovereignty of the people and the country and above all, the efforts of the government of Sri Lanka taken to be successful in seizing the terrorist assets.

I leave it to the learned public of Sri Lanka to decide whether the Leader of the Opposition is working in the best interests of the country by demanding the revelation of the action the Government of Sri Lanka is seeking in order to take control of the international asset bases of the LTTE. Any success in this regard will be shared with the public and the Parliament of Sri Lanka."

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