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LTTE suspects in US include Indian

india Updated: Aug 25, 2006 12:09 IST
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Three of the eight alleged participants in a scheme to obtain arms for Sri Lanka's rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are American citizens with five others coming from Sri Lanka, Canada and India.

Arrested in the course of two sting operations orchestrated by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), all the eight have been denied bail.

But several other suspects, whose names were redacted from the two formal complaints filed August 21 in the US District Court in Brooklyn, New York, are still being sought by law enforcement agencies.

One of them is alleged to be a kingpin of the network, "a principal liaison" between the LTTE and its foreign supporters.

Only the names of the eight charged have been made public, but their individual nationalities are not known.

The eight are: Sathajhan Sarachandran, aka "Satha", Sahilal Sabaratnam, aka "Sahil", Thiruthanikan Thanigasalam, aka "Thani", Nadarasa Yogarasa, aka "Yoga", Murugesu Vinayagamoorthy, aka "Dr Moorthy" and "Vinayagamoorthy Murugesu", Nachimuthu Socrates, Vijayshanthar Patpanathan, aka "Chandru", and Thirukumaran Sivasubramaniam.

Charged with crimes "including conspiracy to provide material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organisation," they have been accused of attempting to procure Russian-made SA-18 surface-to-air missiles, missile launchers, AK-47s and other weapons, equipment and "dual use technology" for the Tamil Tigers.

According to FBI, Nadarasa Yogarasa (Yoga) and Sathajhan Sarachandran (Satha) met in Queens, New York, on July 31 and in a recorded conversation Satha "discussed the types of weapons he wanted to purchase on behalf of the LTTE, specifically, surface-to-air missiles to be used against 'the Kfir,' a reference to the Israeli-made Kfir fighter jet aircraft used by the Sri Lankan military against the LTTE".

On Aug 19, another meeting was arranged with Yoga, Satha, Sahilal Sabratnam (Sahil) and Thiruthanikan Thanigasalam (Thani).

They spoke with two undercover officers for several hours about their shopping list and financial arrangements, a conversation that also was recorded. Thani reportedly asked for weapons to destroy boats, among other items.

In a separate sting operation, which spanned more than a year, suspects Murugesu Vinayagamoorthy, Nachimutu Socrates and others met with undercover agents posing as US State Department officials to negotiate a $1 million "up-front payment" in return for getting the LTTE off the State Department's list of terrorist organisations.

The complaint states that in Dec 2005, Socrates paid a bribe of $1,000 for a document purported to contain classified information, but "it was created by the FBI for purposes of the investigation".

The FBI says e-mail accounts were used to inquire about purchasing arms, unmanned aerial vehicles for jamming radio transmissions and radar and other sophisticated technology.

Since 1997 the LTTE has been on the US list of Foreign Terrorist Organisations, which makes fundraising for them illegal in the US.

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