THE AUSTRALIAN NEWSPAPER SAYS SHIPS THAT CARRY EX-FIGHTERS OF THE LTTE ARE REMNANTS OF THE TIGER FLEET THAT SMUGGLED WEAPONS
Posted on October 23rd, 2009

By Walter Jayawardhana

The Australian has revealed that the Tamils smuggled out of Sri Lanka to Australia and Canada are actually ex-fighters of the Liberation Fighters of Tamil Eelam and the ships used were the remnants of the same ships that were used to smuggle in weapons by the Tamil Tigers.

The Australian quoting Singapore based terrorism expert Dr. Rohan Gunaratne in Sydney said, “This is a very recent development. They’re mostly operating out of Indonesia, and 95 per cent of the time the ships are engaged in moving cargo like rice, sugar, cement and timber, but 5 per cent of the time the ships will be used to smuggle weapons and people.” Gunaratne was quoted out of a lecture he made there on terrorism threat to Australia.

The Australian also quoted Commander Dasanayaka of the Sri Lanka Navy as saying that the Sri Lanka Navy destroyed only eight ships of the terrorist groups and there is a remainder. He said, “We destroyed eight ships but we have information there are a few other ships operating.”

Rohan Gunaratne had said Tamil Tiger ships formerly used to smuggle weapons to guerilla fighters in Sri Lanka are now operating out of Indonesia as people-smuggling vessels.

He reportedly said Australian authorities were on the alert for Tamil Tiger ships in the region, “because there’s a real threat that one of these ships may try to enter Australian waters”, carrying fugitive members of the rebel force.

The newspaper said, “The Indonesian and Australian authorities are understood to be co-operating in surveillance of several metal junk ships known to be owned and operated by members of the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels, which were crushed by the Sri Lankan military forces last May”

The newspaper further reported that Senior government sources have told “ƒ”¹…”The Weekend Australian’ that a number of the Tamils detained on Christmas Island are suspected of being former fighters, citing the presence of shrapnel wounds as possible indicators of Tiger membership.

However, they stress, the newspaper said, this does not necessarily make them a threat to the Australian community, noting that the Tigers were known for forcing young men into military service.

The Australian further reported after many arrivals Sri Lankans currently comprise about half the population held at Christmas Island, with the overwhelming majority being ethnic Tamils.

Sri Lankan authorities confirmed to The Weekend Australian yesterday that remnants of the Tamil Tigers naval fleet were operating in regional waters, it further reported.

The Australian further said, “Another high-ranking Sri Lankan government official, who did not want to be named, confirmed several Tamil Tiger boats were operating as cargo carriers in Indonesian waters. “This is a problem for everybody; Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia … and all other countries, that accept Sri Lankan refugees,” he said.

The Australian further said that Sources in Sri Lanka said that at least two more boats carrying about 30 asylum-seekers each had left Kalkuda Beach, on the island’s east coast, in the past fortnight bound for Australia.

The latest two boats, one which left about two weeks ago and another on Wednesday night, are understood to have sailed from the same region as the vessel detained near Christmas Island on Thursday, suggesting Sri Lankan people-smugglers have opened up a new sea route to avoid detection.

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