US embassy cable - 98COLOMBO3592

SRI LANKA: 1998 ANNUAL TERRORISM REPORT

Identifier: 98COLOMBO3592
Wikileaks: View 98COLOMBO3592 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Colombo
Created: 1998-11-06 11:08:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: PTER CE
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
R 061108Z NOV 98
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 3686
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 003592 
 
DEPT FOR S/CT FOR REAP 
 
DEPT ALSO FOR SA/INS 
 
E.O.  12958:  N/A 
TAGS:  PTER, CE 
SUBJECT:  SRI LANKA: 1998 ANNUAL TERRORISM REPORT 
 
REF:  (A) STATE 202128, (B) COLOMBO 2736 
 
1.   THE FOLLOWING IS POST'S RESPONSE TO REF A 
REQUESTING INPUT FOR THE DEPARTMENT'S 1998 ANNUAL 
TERRORISM REPORT.  THE GOVERNMENT OF SRI LANKA (GSL) 
CONTINUED TO BATTLE THE SEPARATIST LIBERATION TIGERS 
OF TAMIL EELAM (LTTE), THE ONLY TERRORIST GROUP 
CURRENTLY BELIEVED TO BE ACTIVE IN SRI LANKA.  ON 
OCTOBER 8, 1997, THE DEPARTMENT DESIGNATED THE LTTE AS 
A FOREIGN TERRORIST ORGANIZATION UNDER PROVISIONS OF 
THE ANTI-TERRORISM AND EFFECTIVE DEATH PENALTY ACT OF 
1996.  THROUGHOUT 1998 THE GSL CONTINUED INTENSIFIED 
MILITARY OPERATIONS AGAINST THE LTTE.  BETWEEN MAY 
1997 (WHEN THE GOVERNMENT LAUNCHED A MAJOR OFFENSIVE 
TO OPEN A LAND-ROUTE TO JAFFNA) AND THE END OF 1998, 
OVER 5000 COMBATANTS ON BOTH SIDE COMBINED WERE KILLED 
IN THE FIGHTING.  LTTE TERRORIST ACTIVITIES CONTINUED 
DURING THE YEAR, WITH, FOR EXAMPLE, A SHIP HIJACKING, 
A TRUCK BOMBING AT THE PRINCIPAL BUDDHIST TEMPLE IN 
SRI LANKA, ANO A VEHICLE BOMBING IN COLOMBO WHICH LEFT 
28 CIVILIANS DEAD.  THERE IS ALSO COMPELLING EVIOENCE 
THE LTTE WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR SHOOTING DOWN A CIVILIAN 
AIRCRAFT ON SEPTEMBER 29, KILLING ALL 55 PASSENGERS 
AND CREW ONBOARD.  THERE WAS NO EVIDENCE THE LTTE WAS 
USING THE INTERNET TO ATTACK GSL EMBASSIES OR OTHER 
TARGETS. 
 
THE FOLLOWING RESPONSES ARE KEYED TO QUESTIONS A 
THROUGH K IN PARA 3 OF REFTEL. 
 
2.   (A)  THERE WERE NO GSL PROSECUTIONS OF PEOPLE 
INVOLVEO IN INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM OR SIGNIFICANT 
ACTS OF OOMESTIC TERRORISM.  MANY SUSPECTEO MEMBERS OF 
THE LTTE HAVE BEEN ARRESTED AND DETAINED UNDER THE 
EMERGENCY REGULATIONS AND THE PREVENTION OF TERRORISM 
ACT AND SOME HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH RELATIVELY MINOR 
OFFENSES SUCH AS WITHHOLDING INFORMATION.  NO 
IMPORTANT LTTE LEADER HAS EVER BEEN APPREHENDED AND 
PROSECUTED.  LTTE HEAD VELUPILLAI PRABHAKARAN AND NINE 
OTHER LTTE MEMBERS REMAIN INDICTED FOR COMPLICITY IN 
THE JANUARY 31, 1996 CENTRAL BANK BOMBING. 
 
(B)  THE GSL DID NOT EXTRADITE OR REQUEST THE 
EXTRADITION OF SUSPECTED TERRORISTS FOR PROSECUTION 
DURING THE YEAR.  THE U.S. GOVERNMENT DID NOT REQUEST 
ANY EXTRADITIONS OR ASK FOR ASSTSTANCE IN TERRORIST 
CASES.  IN JUNE 1995, THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA 
REQUESTED THE EXTRADITION OF LTTE HEAD PRABHAKARAN AND 
TWO OTHER SENIOR LTTE MEMBERS (INTELLIGENCE CHIEF 
POTTU AMMAN AND WOMEN'S WING LEADER AKILA, THE LATTER 
OF WHOM IS NOW BELIEVED DEAD) FOR THE ASSASSINATION OF 
RAJIV GANDHI.  EXTRADITION PROCEEDINGS HAVE NOT BEGUN, 
AND IT SEEMS UNLIKELY THAT THESE LTTE LEADERS WILL BE 
APPREHENDED IN ANY EVENT. 
 
(C)  POST IS AWARE OF NO SIGNIFICANT IMPEDIMENTS TO 
GSL PROSECUTION AND/OR EXTRADITION OF SUSPECTED 
TERRORISTS.  THE GSL, HOWEVER, WOULD LIKE TO NEGOTIATE 
A NEW EXTRADITION TREATY WITH THE USG SINCE THE 
CURRENT TREATY PRE-DATES SRI LANKA'S INDEPENDENCE AND 
HAS BEEN SUBJECT TO INCREASING LEGAL CHALLENGES DURING 
COURT CASES IN SRI LANKA.  IN SRI LANKA, TERRORISM IS 
ILLEGAL UNDER THE PREVENTION OF TERRORISM ACT.  SRI 
LANKAN EXTRADITION LAW PERMITS EXTRADITION OF 
INDIVIDUALS TO OTHER COMMONWEALTH COUNTRIES. 
MOREOVER, SRI LANKA IS A SIGNATORY TO THE 1988 SOUTH 
ASIAN ASSOCIATION FOR REGIONAL COOPERATION (SAARC) 
REGIONAL CONVENTION ON THE SUPPRESSION OF TERRORISM, 
WHICH DESIGNATES CERTAIN ACTS SPECIFICALLY AS 
TERRORIST ACTS AND NOT AS POLITICAL ACTS, THEREBY 
NULLIFYING ATTEMPTS BY TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS TO 
CLAIM POLITICAL MOTIVATIONS FOR VIOLENCE.  THE GSL 
THEREFORE SEEMS OBLIGED TO COOPERATE WITH THE REQUESTS 
FROM INDIA FOR THE EXTRADITION OF PRABHAKARAN AND 
POTTU AMMAN, THOUGH IT IS LIKELY THAT ITS OWN 
PROSECUTION WOULD TAKE PRECEDENCE -- ESPECIALLY NOW 
THAT PRABHAKARAN HAS ACTUALLY BEEN INDICTED FOR A 
TERRORIST ACT. 
 
(0)  ITSELF A TARGET OF A TERRORIST ORGANIZATION, THE 
GSL HAS BEEN STRONGLY SUPPORTIVE OF INTERNATIONAL 
EFFORTS TO ADDRESS THE PROBLEM OF TERRORISM.  THE GSL 
COOPERATED FULLY WITH THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA IN THEIR 
INVESTIGATION OF THE RAJIV GANDHI ASSASSINATION.  SRI 
LANKA HAS BEEN QUICK TO CONOEMN INTERNATIONAL 
TERRORIST ATTACKS IN OTHER COUNTRIES, AND IS A 
SIGNATORY TO THE TOKYO, THE HAGUE AND MONTREAL 
CONVENTIONS AGAINST TERRORISM, AND HAS PASSED THE 
NECESSARY ENABLING LEGISLATION FOR ALL THREE 
PROTOCOLS. 
 
(E)  THE GSL IS CONDUCTING ONGOING COUNTER-TERRORIST 
ANO COUNTER-INSURGENCY OPERATIONS AGAINST THE LTTE, 
INCLUOING MILITARY ACTIONS AND SPECIAL MEASURES TO 
PROTECT URBAN AREAS, IMPORTANT INSTALLATIONS ANO 
GOVERNMENT LEADERS.  THESE ARE AIMED AT WEAKENING THE 
LTTE AND INHIBITING ITS ABILITY TO CONDUCT TERRORIST 
ATTACKS AS WELL AS MILITARY OPERATIONS.  THE GSL 
ADDRESSED TERRORISM ISSUES THIS YEAR IN SEVERAL 
INTERNATIONAL FORA INCLUDING THE UNGA IN NEW YORK AND 
THE UNHRC IN GENEVA. 
 
(F)  THE GSL DOES NOT SUPPORT INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM. 
 
(G)  THE GSL HAS MADE NO PUBLIC STATEMENTS IN SUPPORT 
OF A TERRORIST-SUPPORTING COUNTRY ON A TERRORISM 
ISSUE.  HOWEVER, IT HAS NOT ACTIVELY PARTICIPATED IN 
INTERNATIONAL CONDEMNATION OF THE TERRORIST ACTIVITIES 
OF LIBYA, IRAQ, IRAN AND SUDAN.  THE GSL'S SUPPORT OF 
U.S. STRIKES AGAINST TERRORIST TARGETS IN SUDAN AND 
AFGHANISTAN WAS ONLY LUKEWARM, WITH THE GSL STATING 
THAT THE STRUGGLE AGAINST INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM 
SHOULD BE CONDUCTEO "NOT BY UNILATERAL ACTION BUT IN 
FULL CONFORMITY WITH INTERNATIONAL LAW, THE PRINCIPLES 
OF THE UN CHARTER AND RESPECT FOR THE SOVEREIGNTY AND 
TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY OF ALL STATES" (REF B). 
 
(H)  THE GSL VIEWS THE OCTOBER 8, 1997 USG DESIGNATION 
OF THE LTTE AS A FOREIGN TERRORIST ORGANIZATION AS A 
MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH IN ITS ANTI-TERRORISM EFFORTS.  THE 
USG DESIGNATION HAS ENCOURAGED THE GSL TO MAINTAIN ITS 
APPROACH TO COMBATING TERRORISM BOTH DOMESTICALLY AND 
INTERNATIONALLY. 
 
(I)  THE GSL HAS ACCEPTED THE U.S. OFFER OF INCREASED 
ASSISTANCE UNDER THE ANTI-TERRORISM ASSISTANCE PROGRAM 
(ATA).  IN 1998, SRI LANKAN SECURITY FORCES PERSONNEL 
TOOK PART IN SEPARATE TRAINING PROGRAMS IN EXPLOSIVE 
INCIDENT COUNTERMEASURES, VITAL INSTALLATION SECURITY, 
AND POST-BLAST INVESTIGATION.  THE GSL HELPED DRAFT 
AND WAS THE FIRST COUNTRY TO SIGN THE INTERNATIONAL 
PROTOCOL AGAINST BOMBING AT THE UN IN JANUARY (THE USG 
SIGNED SECOND).  IN 1997, SRI LANKA RATIFIED THE 1988 
PROTOCOL FOR THE SUPPRESSION OF UNLAWFUL ACTS OF 
VIOLENCE AT AIRPORTS SERVING INTERNATIONAL CIVIL 
AVIATION.  IN ADDITION, IT IS EITHER A SIGNATORY, OR 
HAS TAKEN THE NECESSARY INTERNAL STEPS TO BECOME A 
SIGNATORY, TO THE 1979 CONVENTION AGAINST THE TAKING 
OF HOSTAGES, AND THE 1979 CONVENTION ON THE PHYSICAL 
PROTECTION OF NUCLEAR MATERIALS.  THOUGH THE GSL HAS 
YET TO RATIFY THE 1991 CONVENTION OF THE MARKING OF 
PLASTIC EXPLOSIVES FOR THE PURPOSES OF OETECTION, ANO 
THE 1988 CONVENTION FOR THE SUPPRESSION OF UNLAWFUL 
ACTS AGAINST THE SAFETY OF MARITIME NAVIGATION, THE 
MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS HAS INDICATED THAT THE GSL 
IS RECEPTIVE TO BECOMING A SIGNATORY. 
 
(J-1)  THE GSL HAS COOPERATED FULLY WITH U.S. 
OFFICIALS INVESTIGATING POSSIBLE VIOLATIONS OF U.S. 
LAW BY INTERNATIONAL TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS. 
 
(J2)  THERE HAVE BEEN NO CONFIRMED CASES OF TERRORIST 
ACTS DIRECTED AGAINST U.S. CITIZENS IN SRI LANKA. 
 
(K)    THE U.S. GOVERNMENT HAS MADE SEVERAL REQUESTS 
TO THE GSL FOR ADDITIONAL SECURITY MEASURES FOR U.S- 
PERSONNEL AND FACILITIES IN SRI LANKA.  ALL REQUESTS 
HAVE BEEN MET EXPEOITIOUSLY BY THE GSL.  THESE 
REQUESTS WERE MADE TO ENHANCE SECURITY IN GENERAL AND 
NOT IN RESPONSE TO ANY IDENTIFIABLE THREAT. 
 
DONNELLY 

Latest source of this page is cablebrowser-2, released 2011-10-04