Camelia Nathaniel in Ceylon Daily News, 4 August 2020, where the title reads “Forces thwart attempts to revive LTTE terror”
Since the LTTE’s defeat in 2009, there have been several attempts over the years to revamp the terror outfit. From 2012 there have been 12 such attempts that are on record. All of these incidents have had some form of foreign hand in them. Intelligence units are investigating these incidents and the international connections.
In March 2012 there was an incident reported in Trincomalee where an assassination attempt was made on a former EPDP member. Investigations had revealed that the attempt was orchestrated by an LTTE network overseas. Then in November the same year an LTTE flag was raised at a telephone tower in Jaffna in line with the LTTE heroes’ week. That too was found to have been orchestrated from overseas.
Then in April 2014, another major incident happened in Vavuniya where a group of LTTE suspects had an encounter with the Army and were shot. They were identified as Sundaralingam Kajeepan alias Thevihan, Selvanayagam Kajeepan alias Gobi and Navaratnam Navaneethan alias Appan.
There are reports that Tamil Diaspora groups mandated Gopi to lead a Tiger revival. In July 2015, there was another attempt by LTTE groups who had come from India to revamp the banned outfit. In March 2016 a suicide jacket was found from Jaffna. The suicide jacket and a stock of explosives and ammunition were recovered from a house. In June 2018 a uniform, a flag, bombs and several military type equipment belonging to the LTTE were taken into police custody while they were being transported in a three-wheeler in Oddusuddan, Mullaitivu.
Two individuals including the driver of the three-wheeler were arrested in connection with this incident, while the third suspect had escaped.
Then again in January 2019 in Puliyankulam the Puliyankulam Police had received a tip-off that a person with a suspicious bag was seen in the Puliyankulam, Puthur area. Upon the arrival of the police, the suspect had abandoned the bag and fled. The police had recovered four hand grenades, a pistol, ammunition, two phones, a solar powered phone charger and protein pills and several other items. The phones had contained footage of LTTE training, according to the Security Forces.
In August 2019 the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) officers arrested six suspects in the North believed to have been planning some terrorist activity. The arrests came after information was elicited from the Palai Hospital JMO Dr. Sinniah Sivaruban who had been earlier detained on suspicion. Dr. Sivaruban was arrested by the Army for suspected terrorist activities on August 18, 2019 and handed over to the Jaffna branch of the TID.
An alleged plan hatched to assassinate former Minister and EPDP Leader Douglas Devananda and former LTTE Military Wing Leader Vinayagamoorthy Muralidaran alias Karuna Amman had also been uncovered during the interrogation of Dr. Sivaruban.
Then in October 2019 in Trincomalee a person was arrested with a T-56 and investigations revealed that he had been aiming to assassinate Karuna Amman. This incident too was traced back to overseas connections.
Most recent attempt
Then just prior to the Covid-19 outbreak in March this year (2020) a person was arrested in possession of a drone camera and other military equipment in the Palai area. In all of these incidents investigations have led to international connections and according to reliable sources, the funding and instigation to conduct these incidents has come from overseas and the main aim is to engage the ex-LTTE cadres and attempt to revamp the LTTE military wing. Some parties based overseas are said to be attempting to instill in the young Tamils in the North a sense of Tamil ultra-nationalism.
The latest incident was the explosion in Iyakkachchi, Kilinochchi where an ex-LTTE cadre was injured while manufacturing an explosives device suspected to be used on Black Tiger Day.
This ex-LTTE member identified as Thangarasa Thevathasan alias Gangai Aathman who was a rehabilitated former LTTE cadre, was undergoing treatment at the Anuradhapura Hospital after being transferred from Kilinochchi Hospital.
According to the police, the deceased was making bombs to mark the Black Tiger day, which falls on July 5th when one of the home-made devices exploded prematurely in his house. He has operated under many names such as Thangarajah Thevathasan and his LTTE name Gangai Athman alias Kavinjan. He joined the LTTE in 1994 and having participated in many operations he worked under the LTTE Intelligence Wing.
During a search of his house, the police found two home-made bombs and detonators.
Following the explosion, the Terrorist Investigation Division of Police arrested the victim’s wife, who is a school teacher from Iyakkachchi and another suspect. It has been reported that the wife is also a former LTTE cadre.
He was then trained as a special intelligence operative by the LTTE where he would be sent to befriend the Security Forces personnel by pretending to be disgruntled with the LTTE and once he gets the trust and confidence of the Security Forces personnel he gathers information from them for the LTTE. He has also worked to get around and recruit military personnel to provide information to the LTTE. Similarly, he had been trained in classic intelligence operations.
In 2005 he came to Vavuniya for one of the LTTE missions to recruit army or police personnel as informants for the LTTE. Then he came to Colombo in 2006 and engaged in LTTE activities together with senior LTTE members. There he worked under a senior LTTE leader named Muttappan who lead LTTE operations in Colombo. He then works in Colombo under Muttappan for around one year. He then had gone overseas. However, this is not confirmed.
Generally, a tactic used by the LTTE is to say they have fled from the LTTE and act as an informant for the military, but in fact this is just a plot to get the military confidence. Then once the military recruits them as an informant and they gain access to their information which they then pass on to the LTTE.
Thevathasan then left for Qatar in late 2006 and returned in early 2007. Upon his return, he was apprehended by the TID and he confessed that he was in the LTTE but as he was disgruntled he left the group and fled to Qatar but as the job was not satisfying he had returned. Then while the investigation was ongoing, he was remanded and eventually sentenced. After the war ended in 2009, the process of rehabilitating these ex LTTE cadres was initiated. Thevathashan was sent for rehabilitation in 2012 and released in 2013 after completing a year in rehabilitation.
After his release, he returned to Jaffna, his native place and renewed his past links and reactivated through an overseas network run by a person named Manirasan. Intelligence information gathered regarding all of the above incidents attempted at reviving the LTTE revealed that have all attempts been manipulated from various countries in Europe mainly Switzerland, Norway and France and from India.
Manirasan from France is one of the key figures who is engaged in trying to revamp the LTTE military outfit using vulnerable Tamil youth and ex-LTTE cadres. Thevathasan has had close contact with this Manirasan in France.
Thevathasan was married previously in 2007 but after his imprisonment and the fall of the LTTE, the marriage ended and then he lived with a school teacher from Iyakkachchi who was also arrested by the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) over the recent incident. A former terrorist, she shared the same ideology of creating a mono-ethnic separatist state. They settled in Iyakkachchi.
Thevathasan had also contested the 2015 election under the Crusaders for Democracy as a candidate for Jaffna.
Manirasan had been calling Thevathasan from France constantly and pushing him to keep the LTTE sentiment alive. The Black Tiger day is celebrated on July 05. Hence, they had planned a series of events to coincide with this commemoration. Earlier it was significant to the LTTE but currently, this is a very special period for the Tamil Diaspora. During the month of July these LTTE figures had carried out several small incidents within the span of around two weeks. Among them were a doll packed with explosives being left near an Army camp and a light switch being left again near a camp which was wired to explode. However, these attempts were thwarted by vigilant military personnel.
Thevathasan had then started making Improvised Explosive Devices (IED’s) locally by packing empty tuna cans with explosives. He had made several earlier and buried them in his garden and when he was making another two such IED’s it accidently exploded. Knowing that this would be problematic, several other supporters had also gathered and buried the remnants and they made up a story that the wife had come with a candle while he was filling petrol into his motorcycle and that it had exploded. They had then taken Thevathasan to hospital.
However, when the Security Forces examined the site of the explosion with the sniffer dogs, the dogs had led the military investigators to a spot at the back garden of Thevathasan’s house. When they dug up the spot they had found several other tuna cans filled with explosives and made into IED’s. This proved that there was something more than just a bottle of petrol exploding due to a candle.
The next day another spot in the garden was dug up and a banner designed for Black Tiger day and several other IED’s were found. Then it was very clear to the military what had taken place. Upon investigating Thevathasan’s background his past story came to light.
Investigations conducted so far revealed that Thangarasa Thevathasan had acted on the instructions of one Manirasan, an ex-LTTE intelligence wing cadre operating from France. Technical analysis of his phone by the intelligence units found a few numbers connected to France; +33786xxxxxx and +3375xxxxxxx. He had contacted the latter number via Viber at 1100 hours on 03.07.2020, on the day of the explosion.
During interrogation Thevethasan had revealed that he maintained contact with Manirasan from France since 2018 and provided information of Tamil persons providing information to Security Forces, persons involved in crimes / illegal activities and other details of interest / activities in Jaffna and Kilinochchi areas to him. Manirasan has sent money to Thevathasan from France to conduct these activities and a large sum of money has been sent during June 2020 to purchase a motorcycle in aid of his activities. Further, Manirasan directed Thangarasa Thevathasan to conduct some activities in Jaffna and Kilinochchi areas to show the presence of the LTTE and to create panic in the community.
Thevathasan built three IEDs for this purpose and got injured whilst making the fourth IED. He was to explode these IEDs on 05.07.2020 to coincide with the Black Tiger Day which falls on July 5 and to display the banner close to a Kovil at Maradankerni. There were a few isolated incidents in Jaffna and Kilinochchi areas during the recent past and some of the items recovered in those incidents have matched the items recovered during this incident. Thangarasa Thevathasan confessed his involvement in those incidents as well.
Currently, investigations are ongoing regarding Manirasan’s connections with Thevathasan and his role in the attempt to revive the LTTE. The authorities are also investigating whether Manirasan in France is the same person who had been an LTTE leader. There is also a doubt whether Manirasan had died during the final war or whether he had fled the country or if this is another person who is posing as Manirasan. Perhaps this could also be another Manirasan linked to the LTTE and running the France LTTE network.