US embassy cable - 95COLOMBO6003

SRI LANKA: 1995 ANNUAL TERRORISM REPORT

Identifier: 95COLOMBO6003
Wikileaks: View 95COLOMBO6003 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Colombo
Created: 1995-11-30 10:12:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: PTER CE
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
R 301012Z NOV 95
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 5575
INFO AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 
AMEMBASSY DHAKA 
AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 
AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 
AMEMBASSY LONDON 
AMCONSUL MADRAS 
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 006003 
 
 
DEPT FOR SA/INS AND S/CT FOR REAP/COLLINS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PTER, CE 
SUBJECT:  SRI LANKA:  1995 ANNUAL TERRORISM REPORT 
 
REF:  STATE 245276 
 
1.  THE FOLLOWING IS POST'S RESPONSE TO REFTEL 
REQUESTING INPUT FOR THE DEPARTMENT'S 1995 ANNUAL 
TERRORISM REPORT.  THE GOVERNMENT OF SRI LANKA (GSL) 
CONTINUED TO BATTLE AGAINST THE INSURGENT LIBERATION 
TIGERS OF TAMIL EELAM (LTTE), THE ONLY TERRORIST 
ORGANIZATION CURRENTLY BELIEVED TO BE ACTIVE IN SRI 
LANKA.  ALTHOUGH THE LTTE OPERATES LARGELY WITHIN 
THE BORDERS OF SRI LANKA, IT IS AN QINTERNATIONALQ 
TERRORIST ORGANIZATION AS DEFINED IN REFTEL, BECAUSE 
IT HAS ENGAGED IN OPERATIONAL ACTIVITIES IN INDIA 
(MOST NOTABLY THE 1991 ASSASSINATION OF INDIAN PRIME 
MINISTER RAJIV GANDHI) AS WELL AS IN SRI LANKA. IT 
IS ALSO BELIEVED TO LOOK TO FOREIGN SOURCES FOR THE 
TRAINING OF AT LEAST SOME OF ITS CADRES AND FOR MUCH 
OF THE SUPPLIES IT NEEDS TO SUSTAIN ITS CAMPAIGN 
AGAINST GSL -- ESPECIALLY WEAPONS, EXPLOSIVES AND 
AMMUNITION.  THE FOLLOWING RESPONSES ARE KEYED TO 
QUESTIONS A THROUGH H IN PART 3 OF REFTEL. 
 
2.  (A)  THERE WERE NO GSL PROSECUTIONS OF PEOPLE 
INVOLVED IN INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM OR SIGNIFICANT 
ACTS OF DOMESTIC TERRORISM.  A NUMBER OF SUSPECTED 
MEMBERS OF THE LTTE HAVE BEEN ARRESTED AND DETAINED 
UNDER THE EMERGENCY REGULATIONS AND THE PREVENTION 
OF TERRORISM ACT.  WHILE SOME OF THOSE DETAINED HAVE 
BEEN CHARGED WITH RELATIVELY MINOR OFFENSES SUCH AS 
WITHHOLDING INFORMATION, NO IMPORTANT LTTE LEADER 
HAS EVER BEEN APPREHENDED AND PROSECUTED.  THERE 
HAVE BEEN NO TERRORIST ATTACKS INVOLVING AMERICAN 
CITIZENS OR FACILITIES. 
 
(B)  THERE WERE NO USG REQUESTS TO SRI LANKA FOR 
EXTRADITION OR ASSISTANCE IN TERRORIST CASES.  THE 
GOVERNMENT OF INDIA IN JUNE 1995 OFFICIALLY 
REQUESTED THE EXTRADITION OF LTTE LEADER VELUPILLAI 
PRABHAKARQN, LTTE INTELLIGENCE CHIEF POTTU AMMAN AND 
LTTE WOMEN'S WING LEADER AKILA (WHO HAS SINCE BEEN 
REPORTED TO HAVE DIED IN BATTLE IN NORTHERN SRI 
LANKA) FOR THE ASSASSINATION OF RAJIV GANDHI. 
(THESE INDIVIDUALS HAVE BEEN DECLARED QPROCLAIMED 
OFFENDERSQ BY A MADRQS SPECIAL COURT.)  AS OF 
NOVEMBER 1995, THE ATTORNEY GENERAL WAS PREPARING 
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE DEFENSE MINISTER WHO WILL 
DECIDE WHETHER TO AUTHORIZE THE COLOMBO HIGH COURT 
TO BEGIN EXTRADITION PROCEEDINGS.  HOWEVER, IF THE 
GSL DECIDES TO PROCEED WITH THE EXTRADITION 
REQUESTS, THE CHANCES OF APPREHENDING THE TWO 
REMAINING LTTE LEADERS ARE SLIM AS THEY REMAIN WELL- 
PROTECTED IN LTTE-CONTROLLED AREAS IN THE NORTH OF 
THE COUNTRY. 
 
(C)  WE ARE AWARE OF NO SIGNIFICANT IMPEDIMENTS TO 
GSL PROSECUTION AND/OR EXTRADITION OF SUSPECTED 
TERRORISTS.  TERRORISM IS ILLEGAL UNDER THE 
PREVENTION OF TERRORISM ACT.  IN ADDITION, SRI 
LANKAN EXTRADITION LAW PERMITS EXTRADITION TO OTHER 
COMMONWEALTH COUNTRIES.  MOREOVER, SRI LANKA IS A 
SIGNATORY TO THE SOUTH ASIAN ASSOCIATION FOR 
REGIONAL COOPERATION (SAARC) REGIONAL CONVENTION ON 
THE SUPPRESSION OF TERRORISM.  THEREFORE, THE GSL 
SEEMS OBLIGED TO COOPERATE WITH THE OFFICIAL 
REQUESTS FROM INDIA FOR THE EXTRADITION OF 
PRABHAKARAN AND POTTU AMMAN--THOUGH IT IS LIKELY 
THAT ITS OWN PROSECUTION WOULD TAKE PRECEDENCE. 
 
(D)  ITSELF A TARGET OF A TERRORIST ORGANIZATION, 
THE GSL HAS BEEN STRONGLY SUPPORTIVE OF 
INTERNATIONAL EFFORTS TO ADDRESS THE PROBLEM OF 
TERRORISM.  THE GSL HAS COOPERATED FULLY WITH THE 
GOVERNMENT OF INDIA IN THEIR INVESTIGATION OF THE 
RQJIV GANDHI ASSASSINATION AND HAS BEEN QUICK TO 
CONDEMN INTERNATIONAL TERRORIST ACTS. 
 
(E)  THE GSL IS CONDUCTING ON-GOING COUNTERTERRORIST 
AND COUNTERINSURGENCY OPERATIONS, INCLUDING MILITARY 
ACTIONS AND SPECIAL MEASURES TO PROTECT URBAN AREAS, 
IMPORTANT INSTALLATIONS AND GOVERNMENT LEADERS. 
THESE ARE AIMED AT WEAKENING THE LTTE AND INHIBITING 
THEIR ABILITY TO CONDUCT TERRORIST ATTACKS AS WELL 
AS MILITARY OPERATIONS. 
 
(F)  THE GSL DOES NOT SUPPORT INTERNATIONAL 
TERRORISM IN ANY WAY. 
 
(G)  THE GSL HAS MADE NO PUBLIC STATEMENTS IN 
SUPPORT OF A TERRORIST-SUPPORTING COUNTRY ON A 
TERRORISM ISSUE.  HOWEVER, THEY HAVE NOT ACTIVELY 
SUPPORTED INTERNATIONAL CONDEMNATION OF THE 
TERRORIST ACTIVITIES OF LIBYA, IRAQ AND IQQN. 
 
(H)  AT THE YEAR'S END, THERE HAD BEEN NO 
SIGNIFICANT CHANGE IN THE GSL'S ATTITUDE TOWARD 
INTERNATIONAL AND DOMESTIC TERRORISM. 
 
3.  1995 BEGAN WITH A CEASE-FIRE ON JANUARY 8 
BETWEEN THE LTTE AND THE GSL.  ON APRIL 19, 1995, 
THE LTTE BROKE THE TRUCE IN AN UNPROVOKED ATTACK 
WHEN IT BLEW UP TWO GOVERNMENT NAVAL VESSELS, 
KILLING 12 SAILORS.  IT ALSO SHOT DOWN TWO AIR FORCE 
TRANSPORT PLANES, KILLING ALMOST 100 SERVICEMEN. 
SUBSEQUENTLY, THERE HAVE BEEN ATTACKS AND COUNTER- 
ATTACKS BY BOTH THE LTTE AND THE GOVERNMENT.  THE 
LTTE ONCE AGAIN RESUMED ATTACKS ON CIVILIANS IN MAY, 
KILLING 42 INNOCENT MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN AN 
EASTERN VILLAGE.  IN AN APPARENT ATTEMPT TO KILL 
DEPUTY DEFENSE MINISTER ANURUDDHA RATWATTE, AN LTTE 
SUICIDE BOMBER EXPLODED A BOMB OUTSIDE A LOCAL 
GOVERNMENT OFFICE IN COLOMBO IN AUGUST, KILLING 23 
BYSTANDERS.  IN OCTOBER AND NOVEMBER, THE LTTE 
CONTINUED TO ATTACK CIVILIANS IN THE EAST, KILLING 
OVER 100 MOSTLY SINHALESE VILLAGERS LIVING IN BORDER 
AREAS.  IT ALSO ASSASSINATED TAMIL POLITICAL RIVALS 
IN THE NORTHERN AND EASTERN PARTS OF THE COUNTRY, 
INCLUDING THE DEPUTY MAYOR OF BATTICALOA TOWN. 
MOREOVER, THE LTTE ATTACKED VITAL GOVERNMENT 
INSTALLATIONS.  IN OCTOBER IT RAIDED TWO OIL STORAGE 
FACILITIES IN COLOMBO, DESTROYING 14 TANKS AND 
KILLING 21 GUARDS AND CIVILIANS.  IT ALSO ATTACKED 
OIL STORAGE TANKS IN BATTICALOA TOWN IN THE EAST. 
AN UNSUCCESSFUL ATTEMPT TO BOMB ARMY HEADQUARTERS IN 
COLOMBO IN NOVEMBER RESULTED IN THE DEATHS OF 16 
PEOPLE, MOSTLY CIVILIANS. 
 
4.  IN 1995 THE ELLALAN FORCE - WIDELY SUSPECTED, 
THOUGH NOT CONFIRMED, TO BE A FRONT FOR THE LTTE - 
CLAIMED RESPONSIBILITY FOR A BOMB PLACED AT 
KATUNAYAKE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT WHICH EXPLODED BUT 
DID CAUSE ANY CASUALTIES OR DAMAGE.  THE ELLALAN 
FORCE ALSO SENT SEVERAL LETTERS TO NEWS AGENCIES AND 
FOREIGN MISSIONS WARNING TOURISTS AND FOREIGN 
INVESTORS TO STAY AWAY FROM SRI LANKA OR FACE SEVERE 
CONSEQUENCES.  HOWEVER, THROUGH NOVEMBER, NO ACTION 
OF THE ELLALAN FORCE HAS KNOWN TO HAVE CAUSED INJURY 
TO PERSONS OR DAMAGE TO PROPERTY. 
 
BOARDMAN 

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