Posted on March 11th, 2022


Selvarasa Pathmanathan a.k.a. Kumaran Pathmanathan a.k.a. “KP” (b. 1955) was an important figure in the Eelam war. Pathmanathan was a top LTTE official. He was the chief procurer of arms for the LTTE. KP functioned as the chief arms procurement agent for the LTTE throughout the Eelam war, starting from 1984. KP was the head of the most sophisticated weapons procurement net work operated by any terrorist organization   observed Shanaka Jayasekera.

Sri Lanka Army said KP” was born in Kankesanturai and belonged to the Karayar caste.  He had studied at Nadeshwar College in Kankesanturai and was studying commerce at University of Jaffna. On 25th March 1981 he robbed Rs. 7,909,813 from the People’s Bank in Neeraveli, Jaffna, and assassinated three police constables.

In an interview with Island newspaper, KP said that he was from Valvettiturai,  that Amirthalingam had introduced KP to Prabhakaran in the mid 70s, probably in 1976. He said, ‘we worked together thereafter.’ He was Prabhakaran’s best man at his wedding in India. KP kept a low profile.  He had direct contact only with Prabhakaran.He is one of the very few LTTE who had not received military training, Sri Lanka army observed. 

KP left Sri Lanka in 1983.  He was initially based in Malaysia. KP floated a company “Vikram Holdings” In 1989 at Kuala Lumpur, in partnership with three Malaysians of Sri Lankan origin. During the same period, he opened another company – “Point Pedro Shipping” – registered at Panama. This company was operating two ships “Sun Bird” and “Elicia”. The financing was done by K P.

 In 1990, Malaysia cracked down on LTTE activities, culminating in the seizure of an LTTE ship.  “Sun Bird”, flying the flag of Cyprus, was caught in Penang in December 1990, carrying communication equipment, underwater equipment, high speed boats.

KP then   moved to Thailand, married a Thai and settled down there.  Thailand was ideal for Eelam. Thailand was a short sea hop to Sri Lanka and had an excellent communications infrastructure.  Thailand provided easy access to   the former war zones of    Cambodia and Burma with their surplus weaponry.  Analysts observed that a terrorist organization with maritime capability needed to operate from foreign soil or a sea base in a remote island.

In Thailand KP established himself as the head of banking, procurement and shipping for the LTTE. KP ran a global network of LTTE offices which were engaged in weapons procurement, logistics and money laundering operations. Pathmanathan was solely responsible for   the elaborate   arms procurement operations for the LTTE and payments of large sums of money for the weapons (ordnance).

He managed the LTTE ships, procured supplies and provided guidance to the finance network, said Rohan Gunaratne., The LTTE was able to sustain a military campaign for so long only because Pathmanathan was able to procure its military requirements, observed analysts.

Around 1994 it is alleged that KP established a front company in Ukraine and procured weapon for the LTTE .Around 1998 he established. A front company in Dubai named Otherad cargo’ that facilitated weapons shipments to the LTTE.

Pathmanathan had a large network of contacts and links to the international illegal arms trade. He had an extensive list of illicit arms dealers,    Afghanistan, Soviet bloc, Yugoslavia, also Middle-East, Africa, and East-Asia including Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia.    KP obtained North Korea end user certificates.  Also an end user certificate from a weapons manufacturer in China.  In May, 2009 according to reports, he travelled to Kabul via Karachi to meet the Taliban government .

KP’s arms procurement operations were extremely secretive. Despite secrecy, some information has emerged on weapons purchasing. MV Swene carrying 60 tons of C4 explosives consigned to M/S Carlton Trading Co. Ltd., 60/61, Delugh Commercial Area, Dhaka, Bangladesh and a consignment of detonators consigned to E G C T International Ltd., Rangoon, Burma had left port of Nikolaev on 19/8/94 and sighted past Istanbul on 25/08/94. There had been no record of her voyage till she was reported leaving the Port of Lagos for the Port of Banjul in Gambia and intelligence indicated that in the intervening period of this north bound voyage she had off loaded the cargo to LTTE having entered the Indian Ocean.

The explosives had been purchased from Rubezhnoe Chemicals Plant “ZARYA” in Lugansk Region, Ukraine using end user certificate No: DP 816955 in the name of H.D. Hashin Noor Rahman. KP transferred US $ 50,000 from City bank account in Singapore in June 1994 to the Chemical Plant. (   Source: Aide memoire from Sri Lanka Foreign Ministry, June 2009)

KP’s arms procurement branch was known as the “KP Department”.  He procured modern hardware, paid for them through secret bank accounts, and shipped them to the LTTE using a merchant shipping network known as the “Sea Pigeons”, operated through the KP Department.

 KP was in charge of the shipping fleet too. Prabhakaran had instructed Kittu to meet Captain David, a merchant Navy officer who was on holiday at his home in Jaffna in February 1984. Captain David was asked to meet Prabhakaran regarding establishment of an LTTE shipping service.

 Captain David met Prabhakaran in Chennai in March 1984. Together with ‘KP,’ they chalked out an elaborate strategy to float maritime companies in Southeast Asia, based mainly in Singapore and Malaysia. ‘Arasu Maritime Private Ltd’ was one of their first ventures. Several firms were floated to make enquiries about military wares. ‘Captain David and Associates’ was one such firm. The support of Singapore-based Tamils was enlisted for this purpose.

An old Chinese vessel, ‘Sun-Hing,’ was purchased from a Mumbai based shipping magnate. The name of the ship was changed to ‘MV Cholan ’and the ship was registered in Panama in October 1984. Cholan was for smuggling arms and  equipment to the LTTE .

‘MV Cholan’ started its voyage in 1985 with general cargo from Southeast Asia to Vishakhapatnam in India. It also carried powerful boat engines, communication equipment, machine guns, tinned food, packet food, camouflage uniform items, tents and raincoats.”

LTTE got permission from Burma to establish a modest shipping concern based in the island of Twante located off the Irrawaddy delta. In 1990 they also had a niche in Phuket in Thailand.

The LTTE shipping fleet flouted the international laws governing international shipping operation. Ships would bring weapons from North Korea to the equator where the goods were transferred to small ships and subsequently into small fast boats. ( CONTINUED)

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