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National Post editorial board: Keep the Tamil Tigers out of Canada

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On Friday, Sri Lanka's army captured Kilinochchi, the de facto capital of the Tamil Tigers. This marks a crippling blow for the Tigers, a rebel militia and terrorist group that first took up arms more than a quarter-century ago. It also poses an indirect security risk for Canada: As the Tigers are routed from the battlefield, Ottawa must guard against fleeing Tiger leaders seeking sanctuary among this country's large Ontario-based community of expatriate Tamils.
The Tigers -- more formally known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) -- have been on the defensive for several years now. In the northern part of the country, the Sri Lankan army has taken a number of Tiger-held towns and outposts. In the eastern part of the country, the LTTE military apparatus has disintegrated completely, thanks largely to defections and infighting.

Western governments, too, have played a role. In the wake of 9/11, which brought increased attention to all manner of terrorist groups, our law enforcement agencies largely succeeded in shutting off the international money pipelines that funneled cash to the LTTE.

Here in Canada, much of the Tigers' "donations" came through the extortion of small Tamil-Canadian businesses in the Toronto suburbs. In this regard, Stephen Harper's Conservative government deserves some of the credit for Sri Lanka's success against the Tigers. Prime Minister Harper did what neither Paul Martin nor Jean Chretien had the courage to do: explicitly declare the Tigers a terrorist organization, thereby rendering their fund-raisers criminals.

The capture of Kilinochchi marks a decisive turning point in Sri Lanka's civil war. The LTTE captured the northern city a decade ago, and have turned it into their administrative centre, establishing government offices, courts, a clinic and even a Tiger bank.

The LTTE governed ruthlessly, making a mockery of its claim to be a group of honourable freedom fighters seeking justice for the island nation's Tamil minority. To raise funds, the Tigers diverted relief cash earmarked for victims of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, and captured relief supplies for resale on the black market. They swept through refugee camps press-ganging orphans as young as 10 into frontline combat against the Sri Lankan army. Expat Tamils' relatives still living in Sri Lanka were threatened with death until their relatives in Canada, Britain and Australia agreed to pay a "war tax" for their release. Tamils seeking to work for a democratic and peaceful solution to their people's grievances were murdered by the LTTE.

All this has been done under the orders of LTTE supreme leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, pictured, who has transformed the Tigers into a death cult. Sri Lanka -- its Tamil minority and Sinhalese majority alike -- will be better off when the Tigers are no more.

As it becomes harder for the Tigers to operate in Sri Lanka, their next logical move is to seek refuge abroad -- especially in Canada. There is certainly plenty of support for the Tigers among many of the Tamils living in Ontario's urban centers. It would come as no surprise if defeated LTTE leaders tried to set up base here until they can regroup in Sri Lanka. In the past, Tiger lieutenants have come to Canada as refugee claimants. No doubt, they will try that trick again.

We don't need such brutal people spreading their hate in Canada, and leaning on Tamil-Canadians to provide shelter or cash. Mr. Harper already has done the right thing by declaring the LTTE a terrorist organization. As the group's leaders flee their failing insurrection, the Prime Minister should make certain that Kilinochchi's erstwhile governors do not end up in Toronto, Scarborough or Markham.

National Post
 

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