US embassy cable - 02COLOMBO1828

LTTE Update: Tigers reportedly have success in recruiting; Divisions in the LTTE re peace process?

Identifier: 02COLOMBO1828
Wikileaks: View 02COLOMBO1828 at
Origin: Embassy Colombo
Created: 2002-10-01 11:08:00
Classification: SECRET//NOFORN
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

011108Z Oct 02
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 COLOMBO 001828 
E.O. 12958:  DECL:  10-01-12 
SUBJECT:  LTTE Update:  Tigers reportedly have success 
in recruiting; Divisions in the LTTE re peace process? 
Refs:  (A) Colombo 1815 
-      (B) Colombo 1299, and previous 
(U) Classified by W. Lewis Amselem, Deputy Chief of 
Mission.  Reasons 1.5 (b, d). 
1.  (C) This update of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam 
(LTTE) activities reviews the following: 
-- Tigers reportedly having success recruiting 
-- Divisions in the LTTE regarding the peace process?? 
-- LTTE spokesman Balasingham said to be "obsessed" with 
the U.S. 
-- In a first, Tigers publish a newspaper in Sinhala, 
the language of the majority community 
Reported Success in Recruiting 
2.  (C) The LTTE seems to be having some success in 
recruiting.  According to various contacts, the LTTE may 
have added several hundred new cadre since the peace 
process started in December 2001.  (Note:  The LTTE is 
variously estimated to have approximately 8,000-12,000 
personnel.)  Jehan Perera, the head of a local think- 
tank, told us that he had heard that the LTTE was urging 
Tamils to join by asserting that "we have won the war, 
and now need supporters to help administer the north and 
east."  Perera said this type of pitch was reportedly 
effective, especially in Jaffna District, where 
government security forces have eased their long- 
standing clampdown, allowing the LTTE to emerge from the 
3.  (C) In addition to its calibrated pitch, the LTTE's 
recruiting drive seems quite sophisticated and 
extensive.  Tamil politicians report that trained LTTE 
recruitment teams have spread out across the north and 
the east.  The teams show videos of past LTTE 
military/terrorist exploits, hand out pamphlets, and 
then try to sign up volunteers on the spot.  To stay on 
cue, the teams are given prepared answers to possible 
questions from event attendees.  (Note:  While the 
recruitment drive events are intensive, G. Ponnambalam, 
a senior Tamil National Alliance MP, told us that they 
are much more low-key than the pro-LTTE "Pongu Tamil" 
festivals held earlier this year.  These events involved 
mammoth crowds surrounded by large posters of LTTE 
leader V. Prabhakaran and included ritualistic pledges 
in support of LTTE goals.) 
4.  (C) Comment:  With the peace process moving at full 
tilt, the LTTE is apparently searching for a different 
type of recruit.  In the past, the vast majority of the 
recruits were earmarked to join the LTTE's military 
wing.  Contacts report, however, that the LTTE's new 
focus is on recruiting for political and administrative 
positions in the expectation that the LTTE will soon be 
in the de facto position of governing the north and 
east.  This is not to say that military recruitment is 
not going on:  LTTE Trincomalee military chief Paduman 
recently officiated at a widely publicized "graduation 
ceremony" for about a hundred armed "cadets."  End 
Divisions re Peace Process? 
5.  (S/NF) Tentative reports are emerging of divisions 
in the LTTE regarding the direction of the peace 
process.  Milinda Moragoda, a key Sri Lankan government 
official involved in peace process issues (Amcit--pls 
protect), told us that the GSL had intercepted LTTE 
communications indicating that there was some dissonance 
toward LTTE spokesman Anton Balasingham's management of 
the peace process.  While it was not clear, Moragoda 
continued, the feeling among some in the LTTE (NFI) was 
that Balasingham was taking too soft a line toward the 
6.  (S/NF) Meanwhile, other contacts report that 
regional tensions in the LTTE remain a factor, with 
leaders in the east (Karuna, Karikalan) more hard-line 
than most of the leadership in the north.  That said, 
there are reports of hard-liners in the north, too: 
Ponnambalam told polchief that Colonel Banu, a high- 
level military official based at LTTE headquarters in 
Kilinochchi, was known to be quite apprehensive about 
the peace process and what he saw as its negative effect 
on the LTTE's military preparedness. 
7.  (S/NF) Comment:  Little is known about the nature of 
the LTTE decision-making process, except that 
Prabhakaran seems firmly in charge.  Thus, the real 
issue is who has influence on Prabhakaran.  What we are 
hearing is a bit fuzzy, but it potentially may indicate 
that a hard-line, irreconcilable element may be trying 
to marginalize Balasingham in order to slow down the 
peace process.  End Comment. 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
Balasingham said to be "Obsessed" with the U.S. 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
8.  (C) Despite the lack of direct contact, the LTTE 
seems to maintain a deep interest in the U.S.  Based on 
his recent meetings with Balasingham at the September 
peace talks in Thailand, Milinda Moragoda reported that 
the Tiger spokesman peppered him with questions on where 
the U.S. stands with regard to the conflict.  Moragoda's 
impression was that Balasingham was "obsessed" on the 
subject.  In one conversation, for example, when 
Moragoda noted that he was going to the U.S. after the 
conclusion of the talks, Balasingham sniffed, "What for? 
To buy arms?"  Moragoda said he had jokingly replied 
that he had done that during his last visit. 
9.  (C) Comment:  In comments tending to back up 
Moragoda's report, we have heard from other contacts 
that the LTTE is very worried about the stance of the 
U.S. toward the group.  This concern seems to have 
spiked in the aftermath of September 11 and continued on 
from that date.  At the heart of the LTTE's interest 
seems to be a nagging fear that the U.S. may one day 
directly confront the LTTE.  Many Sri Lankans, including 
Moragoda, believe that this concern about the U.S. and 
its reaction is one of the factors driving the LTTE's 
continued involvement in the peace process.  End 
LTTE Publishes in Sinhala 
10.  (SBU) For the first time in its history, the LTTE 
has published a paper in Sinhala, the language of Sri 
Lanka's majority Sinhalese community.  The first edition 
of "Dedunna" ("Rainbow") was published in September. 
The paper is a weekly and is published in Kilinochchi. 
It is not clear how many copies of the paper the LTTE is 
distributing.  It seems to be free and is of relatively 
high quality with colored photos. 
11.  (C) Comment:  In publishing the paper, the LTTE 
seems to be making an effort to reach out and explain 
its positions to the Sinhalese south.  For many years, 
the LTTE has been active in publishing with front 
organizations putting out Tamil- and English-language 
periodicals.  Of late, websites have also been 
established.  The LTTE has never published in Sinhala, 
however.  If the first edition is anything to go by, it 
is doubtful that the weekly will go over that well in 
the south:  its huge photo of Prabhakaran will probably 
not be a big draw, nor will photos of children in 
uniforms dancing under the sinister, North Korea-like 
slogan "peace through freedom."  End Comment. 
12. (U) Minimize considered. 

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