Our Monday’s news item was based on ongoing investigations into the LTTE’s vast international arms procurement network and countries and various individuals involved with the group for massive financial gains. Interrogation of Kumaran Pathmanathan aka ‘KP’by Sri Lankan intelligence services has helped the government to identify some of those directly involved with the LTTE as well as Sri Lankan officials, who benefited from the so-called peace process. Authoritative defence sources told The Island Sri Lankan politicians and officials could have been bribed by way of foreign jaunts and special grants for projects. Sources said that inquiries should also be made to establish whether any Norwegians or Sri Lankans had secretly received cash awards for their role.
Although Norwegian Ambassador Tore Hattrem has denied Norway helping the LTTE to establish links with Eritrea for arms deals and contacting the Maldivian government in May 2007 after the Maldivian Coast Guard intercepted an Indian trawler Sri Krishna commandeered by the LTTE, The Island could now reveal that a Colombo-based Norwegian diplomat contacted a Maldivian diplomat also in Colombo to explore the possibility of saving the vessel. We revealed the Norwegian attempt in a front-page lead story headlined ‘Foreign embassy tried to help LTTE arms vessel escape’ on May 26, 2007 issue, though we did not name the country. The Norwegian diplomat raised the issue with the Maldives but nothing could be done as Sri Krishna was no more. The Maldivian High Commission did not dispute our lead story.
Responding to our queries, sources said that Eritrean end-user-certificates which facilitated purchase of US$ millions worth arms, ammunition and equipment from China had not been available to the LTTE before the launch of the second Norwegian peace effort. The first Norwegian peace bid was made during the then President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s tenure. The Norwegians and their side-kicks simply abandoned Sri Lanka when the LTTE resumed hostilities in April 1995 with the sinking of two Chinese gun boats anchored at Trincomalee.
Government sources said that Norwegian diplomats had been previously benefited by their involvement in international negotiations, a case in point was Mona Juul, Oslo’s Ambassador in Tel Aviv and her husband Terje Roed Larsen, the then Oslo’s Middle Eastern envoy receiving US$ 100,000 reward from an Israeli NGO founded by former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres for helping finalising the failed Israel-Palestinian Accord of 1993. Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan Petersen publicly discussed the issue in May 2002, a few months after Norway brokered a deal between Sri Lanka and the LTTE. Recalling that Norwegian Minister Erik Solheim had publicly represented the LTTE’s macabre cause, sources said Sri Lanka intended to conduct a cohesive investigation.
Sources pointed out that Juul had moved up the diplomatic ladder and taken the post of Norway’s Ambassador to the UN. Recently she slammed UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, calling him weak and incompetent.
The LTTE could not have run its arms procurement ring without receiving support from influential sections of the international community. Knowing the difficulties faced by Sri Lanka in obtaining her defence needs at the height of the war, those who now shed crocodile tears for Tamil civilians accommodated at welfare centres in the north could have easily crippled the LTTE network if they really wanted to, sources said.
Sources said that the bottom line was that the LTTE could not have expanded its arms procurement network without tacit support of international players. Sources said that an FBI investigation a few years ago revealed an LTTE attempt to bribe a senior US State Department official with one million US$. The same investigation led to the arrest and prosecution of a retired Marine General of an Asian country, sources said. A former top official of the Amnesty International as well as top US justice official, too, had represented the LTTE at international forums, sources said adding nothing could be as ridiculous as believing foreigners, irrespective of their standing would throw their weight behind a terrorist organisation free of charge.
~ island.lk ~ by Shamindra Ferdinando