Arrest of Nanthagopan: Turning point in battle against LTTE remnants
Posted on April 12th, 2014

By Manjula Fernando– Courtesy The Daily News

The recent arrest of key LTTEer Nanthagopan while attempting to flee to UK and his repatriation by Malaysian authorities for questioning in Colombo, is claimed to be a turning point in Sri Lanka’s second war with the LTTE on the diplomatic front.


Prof. Rohan Gunaratne

International Terrorism Expert Prof. Rohan Gunaratna based in Singapore said that Subramanium Kapilan (45) alias Nanthagopan was the senior most leader of the LTTE international secretariat and is even senior to Perinpanayagam Sivaparan alias Nediyawan who heads one of the major LTTE international factions today.

At the time of his arrest the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees had been processing his application for refugee status not knowing his background as a key member of the LTTE.

Excerpts of the interview with Prof. Rohan Gunaratna:

Q: The Nanthagopan (who was arrested in Malaysia) is said to be one of the two deputy leaders of Nediyawan faction of the LTTE. How important is this arrest for the Sri Lankan Government in its objective to dismantle LTTE international network and do you believe that the LTTE is trying to make a comeback in Sri Lanka and revive its military wing?

A. With the centre of gravity of the LTTE shifting to the international arena, the international law enforcement and security and intelligence services are concerned about the regrouping of the LTTE.

They do not want their host countries to be exploited by the LTTE to target another country. To fight the revival of the LTTE, there is extensive counter-terrorism cooperation and collaboration. After the return of Selvarajah Pathmanathan alias Kumaran Pathmanathan alias KP, the head of International Affairs in 2009, the return of Nanthagopan is the most significant operation.

After Castro committed suicide, Nanthagopan was the senior most leader of the LTTE International Secretariat. Nediyavan was junior to Nanthagopan. There has been half a dozen plots targeting Sri Lanka since May 2009. The security platform during the three phases – humanitarian assistance, socio-economic development and political engagement – prevented a revival.

The LTTE overseas lobbying focused on dismantling the security platform in Sri Lanka to make a surreptitious come back. Like terrorism returned in Iraq and Afghanistan, terrorism will return if government dismantles the security platform. Committed to long term stability, Secretary of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa understands separatist sentiments, intentions and strategy and has resisted external and internal pressure.

Q: Was Nanthagopan playing a pivotal role in the international wing?

A: Subramanium Kapilan (Date of birth: November 4, 1969) alias Nanthagopan was the key advisor to the LTTE after its defeat in Sri Lanka. Previously, he served as deputy leader of the Wanni-based LTTE International Secretariat under Castro. In addition to managing LTTE branches and fronts overseas, the Secretariat also had a Media House that churned out propaganda.

The Secretariat coordinated political and financial activity, and also procurement. Nanthagopan was involved in a full range of activities.

Q: From where was he operating?

A: Nanthagopan was active in Southeast Asia but travelled to the Middle East.

He came to the attention of several governments and was under watch for a considerable period before arrest.

As Nanthagopan did not disclose he was a member of a terrorist group, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was processing his claim for refugee status.

International organisations and governments must honour claims for genuine asylum seekers. This is one of the many recent examples of how the existing international system is exploited by terrorists and terrorist groups.

The gaps, vulnerabilities and loopholes of the system needs to be closed.

Q: Was he in Sri Lanka during the LTTE era and when did he migrate?

A: As a trained member of the LTTE, Nanthagopan served in Jaffna until the Sri Lankan security forces cleared the peninsula. Thereafter, Nanthagopan operated in the Wanni directly reporting to Castro until the LTTE was dismantled in May 2009. One of the many functions of Nanthagopan was to run the Media House of the LTTE where they produced large volumes of misinformation and disinformation that fed diplomatic missions in Colombo, western governments, INGOs, NGOs, especially human rights organisations, mass media and the expatriate community.

Instead of surrendering to the authorities and undergoing rehabilitation – like over 11,000 cadres did – Nanthagopan illegally left Sri Lanka and continued to revive the LTTE.

He linked up with the LTTE network that had supported terrorism for three decades.

He engaged in attempts to revive the LTTE in Sri Lanka.

Q: What is Nanthagopan’s background? How did he join the LTTE ?

A: Nanthagopan came from a respectable family. His father Subramaniyam from Jaffna was a middle level government servant or a grama sevaka.

Reasonably well educated, Nanthagopan was politicised and radicalised by the environment.

Q: Could there have been a connection between his arrest and the issuance of the extraordinary gazette notice banning LTTE and 15 fronts, and 422 people for having terrorist links?

A: The designation of the LTTE, its entities and people under UN Security Council Resolution 1373 is a dynamic process. The Ministry of Defence under Secretary Rajapaksa will continue to review people and institutions engaged in terrorism periodically.

The process will continue as long as the threat persists. The process is assisted multiple streams of information. The Sri Lankan authorities recovered a huge LTTE archive including Castro’s holdings. This included Castro’s diaries where he maintained meticulous records of people, organisations, events, conversations, visits and finances.

The designation is based on a review of multiple streams of raw and processed information, past and present.

In addition what foreign governments have shared, access to high value detainees and others transformed and reintegrated, helped to verify existing data banks. When the existing gazette is revised, Nanthagopan’s vast knowledge of LTTE branches, fronts and individuals will be useful.

Q: Will this arrest lead to more overseas arrests in the near future?

A: Nanthagopan’s arrest and deportation is a process that will end when the threat diminishes. The worst is over but remnants seeking to regroup is a common feature.

The Sri Lankan government will focus on dismantling the LTTE network as long as there is a threat to the country.

After the end of terrorism in May 2009, the LTTE network started with propaganda and gradually supported the building of cells to mount attacks. Despite the geopolitical differences and strategic challenges, governments will continue to cooperate on security as long as terrorism remains a tier one threat.

Q: Are we seeing good progress in the diplomatic front to win our other crucial war with the LTTE?

A: Sri Lanka has won the war on the ground but lost the media war. The LTTE has largely transformed from a terrorist group to a propaganda organisation disseminating misinformation and disinformation.

The impact of this transformation is manifested in resolutions against the government in Colombo and a hostile human rights lobby. Sri Lanka defeated one of the most brutal terrorist groups in the world but the international narrative is influenced by negative reporting about the huge progress and development.

This is a direct result of Sri Lanka failing to counter the terrorist and separatist information campaign and its missions oversees neglecting the Tamil expatriate community driven and hijacked by LTTE propaganda.

Sri Lanka should proactively engage those living abroad, inviting Sri Lankan expatriates to invest and participate in the development and peace building process. Sri Lanka should work with the Tamil media, both training and retraining and mainstream their reporting.

Sri Lanka should groom a young generation of political leaders who are not racists. Ultra nationalism whether by Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims, has no place in history.

There should be a harmony act and laws to punish those who insult others religions and ethnicities. While building upon the sound security platform, government should recruit more Tamils and Muslims to the security forces.

To counter false news and promote the truth, a strategic communication ability should be built throughout government departments. By strengthening its diplomatic service, Sri Lanka should engage the human rights NGOs and restore relations with the West.

Prof. Gunaratna is the head of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, one of the largest counter terrorism research and training centres in the world.


Friendship tour: A group of rehabilitated ex LTTE cadres on a tour of the South organised by the Rehabilitation Department. (File photo)

12 Responses to “Arrest of Nanthagopan: Turning point in battle against LTTE remnants”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    RELEASING “rehabilitated” LTTE cadres is MOST foolish. 15+ years of brainwashing cannot be reversed in less than 10 years.

    Govt. wasted too much on them. The VAST Tamil community DOES NOT appreciate it.

  2. Ananda-USA Says:

    The GOSL should now CAPITALIZE ON THIS ATTEMPT to revive the LTTE violence in Sri Lanka, to HALT the REDUCTION of the Armed Forces in the former WAR ZONES in the North and East of Sri Lanka, and INSTEAD to INCREASE their PRESENCE PERMANENTLY in these areas.

    Sri Lanka has suffered 150,000 dead and sacrificed its future during 30 YEARS of unremitting warfare against Tamil Terrorists, because successive Govts of Sri Lanka listened to the MANTRA chanted by Foreign Powers that the “War Cannot be Won by Military Means” and that we should NEGOTIATE and ABDICATE to our TERRORIST TORMENTORS.

    Now they are AGAIN counseling “RECONCILIATION” to allow RACIST TERRORISTS to transform into Wailing Victims, so they can gain through SUBTERFUGE and BLACKMAIL in PEACE as WAILING VICTIMS what they failed to win by VIOLENCE in WAR as MURDEROUS TERRORISTS!

    I urge the GOSL to REJECT this FALSE RECONCILIATION, which Foreign Proponents of it NEVER PRACTICED THEMSELVES in their own struggles for survival, and to PUNISH all past, present and future terrorists without FEAR!

    REPEAL the 13th Amendment that ENCOURAGES the REVIVAL of the separatist stuggle for Eelam and ENFORCE STRICTLY the Laws of Our Country, under the 6th Amendment to our Constitution, against TREASON!

    DO IT FAST, DO IT NOW! Wonder not for whom the Bell Tolls, it Tolls for Us … the Patriotic Law Abiding People of Sri Lanka!

  3. Nanda Says:

    Ananda,
    ” REPEAL the 13th Amendment that ENCOURAGES the REVIVAL of the separatist stuggle for Eelam and ENFORCE STRICTLY the Laws of Our Country, under the 6th Amendment to our Constitution, against TREASON!
    DO IT FAST, DO IT NOW! Wonder not for whom the Bell Tolls, it Tolls for Us … the Patriotic Law Abiding People of Sri Lanka!”
    Yes, I like to join you with this mantra, but very sceptical on this.
    I feel sorry for you.

    As long as MR is there, 13A is there to stay. It is his grassroots, his power base , as he thinks. It is his downfall, destruction and death in reality.
    He SHOULD GRADUATE NOW to another level such as that of Mahathir ( no fear) and then to Lee Kuan Yew ( no corruption (except for a privileged few at very high level) + NO FEAR). This is his survival.

    At he moment he is almost as good as Mahathir but lack fearlessness, guts etc.

  4. Ananda-USA Says:

    Nanda,

    Don’t feel sorry for me, it will happen in due course.

    I cried in the wilderness for over 20 years advocating a military solution to the problem of LTTE terrorism. I was pilloried as a war monger by many others who counseled “peaceful” abdication to the terrorists, and who perhaps like you felt “sorry” for the delusional man. But it finally happened on that wonderful day of May 18, 2009, the happiest of my life.

    Likewise, Mother Sri Lanka will shake itself free itself of these Indian Chains that bind her hands and feet, and tarnish her Sovereign Crown some day … SOON … and I will be reborn again. I fondly hope that on that day … to come SOON … you will be around to share in that joy!

  5. Nanda Says:

    Ananda,
    Yes, that is the wish of every Sri Lankan who “loves the country”.
    When will that great leader who loves the country than politics and the pocket will appear ?
    Is that possible through the same political system ?
    All politikkos start from contesting money wasting, corrupt, stupid PC system ( 13A).

  6. Nanda Says:

    “Like terrorism returned in Iraq and Afghanistan, terrorism will return if government dismantles the security platform. Committed to long term stability, Secretary of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa understands separatist sentiments, intentions and strategy and has resisted external and internal pressure.”

    It appears whole thing is depended on 1 man, who did not come up though that crazy system.
    This man is not going to live for ever.
    So, it is Urgent to have another one of similar calibre as back up.

  7. jayasiri Says:

    It has taken more than 5 years for GOSL to proscribe LTTE & their affiliated orgs to be banned publicly. Too much has happened & now terrorist groups are at an advantage.

    They are well organized & have access to leaders of main countries where LTTE & other orgs operate. GOSL has realized it too late.

    As Ananda suggested NORTH & EAST must be FULLY manned by Military for to foeseable future. North ofcourse should & must be a permanent FIXTURE of the GOSL & MILITRY. No reductiion of forces, BUT INCREASE in force strengths is necessary……….J

  8. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    As I have proposed in some of my earlier comments the war against the creation of Eelam is far from over. I have also commented that the NGO’s that support the LTTE in various nations function solely to create Eelam. I have also suggested that since this existential threat not only exists in other nations (especially in India and in particular Tamil Nadu) and these nations are knowingly giving them shelter, assistance, voicing their voice in the UNHRC and for all practical purposes nations like the UK, US, to Canada have been feeding grounds for the next wave of insurgency against Sri Lanka FULLY BACKED BY THE GOVERNMENT OF THOSE NATIONS.

    This is not a “revealing issue” to London, New Delhi, Chennai, Washington D.C. or Ottawa. The secret service agencies are fully aware that their nations have played host to Tamil Terrorists during the war and after the war.. and it will not end with a sudden cooperation from them.

    Like Israel where many Nazi’s took refuge in many nations who knowingly harbored them and it took the Israeli secret service MOSSAD to take them out, Sri Lanka should take the offensive against the Tamil Terrorists and the NGO’s that support the LTTE to the very shores of other nations if those nations continue to turn a blind eye or actively support these terrorists. If the LTTE wants to make it a war with no borders then it leaves little choice for Sri Lanka but to engage them in that war with no borders. Hunt them down where ever they feel secure to launch attacks on Sri Lanka. Take a page from Israel or face the consequences of an Eelam.

  9. Fran Diaz Says:

    How can Tamil Separatism be over when the Vadukoddai Resolution (1976) has still NOT been officially revoked and the 6-A NOT activated against Separatists/Terrorists ?

  10. Lorenzo Says:

    ALL banned TERRORIST groups in the world are either TAMIL or MUSLIM!!

    Doesn’t it say A LOT?

    SL has to USE this OPPORTUNITY to bust both extremist groups. PIT one against the other and BUST them BOTH.

  11. Nimal Says:

    These terrorists that helped to bleed the country for over 30 years should not be treated leniently, just as in US our courts should be sent to prison for life. They should be only be paroled after 20 years if they have confessed to their vile deeds. Ours is the most unwise country to do a deal with ex terrorists and give them privileges. We seem to be weak to be benevolent to the enemy and utterly cruel and careless to ones own law-abiding people and that’s our folly. Who will respect us?

  12. Nimal Says:

    Too busy to read this article above. If this fellow Nanthagopan is in SL,then he should be arrested immediately and gather as much evidence as possible and try him in our courts.

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