India wants to question Kumaran Pathmanathan, the LTTE's chief arms procurer now in detention in Thailand, for possible involvement in the 1993 Mumbai blasts among other terrorist acts on Indian soil, an informed Sri Lankan official source told Hindustan Times in Colombo on Friday.
However, so far, there has been no word from India itself about KP's possible involvement in the Mumbai blasts which killed hundreds in 1993.
The Indian Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Director, Vijay Shanker, had said on Wednesday that India would ask Thailand to extradite Pathmanathan, better known as KP, to face investigations relating to the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. He had made no mention of the Mumbai blast case.
Clearly, India is keen on getting KP. But this is somewhat intriguing in the light of the fact that KP was not listed among the 41 charged sheeted in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. After thorough investigations, he was listed among the 20 odd "suspects" against whom there was "no clear evidence" as the chief investigator, DR Kaathikeyan, put it. Perhaps the fugitive may be involved in other acts of terrorism in the country. Kaarthijeyan said that his team wanted to interrogate KP because he was present in Mumbai on the day of Rajiv Gandhi's assassination and had disappeared a few days later.
Involvement with islamic terror groups
According to the website www.svik.org the LTTE is known to be linked with Islamic and other terror groups in the South East Asian region. It quotes the Washington-based Maritime Intelligence Group to say that the LTTE had trained the Islamic militant group Jamaah Islamiya (JI). The JI could attack ships and tankers with skills learnt from the LTTE, the think tank said. And the JI is linked to the Middle Eastern Abu Sayaf Group and the Al-Qaeda. The website recalls that the Indian think tank South Asia Analysis Group (SAAG) has consistently maintained that the LTTE is linked to several terror groups in the Asian region.
Lankan team heads for Thailand
Sources in the Sri Lankan government confirmed on Friday that a high level team from the foreign ministry and the police, assisted by a lawyer, had left for Thailand to secure the extradition or custody of KP.
Though the Thai authorities are denying that KP is with them, the Sri Lankan government is convinced that he is.
Sri Lanka does not have an extradition treaty with Thailand, but that is no bar against sending a fugitive to Sri Lanka because Sri Lanka and Thailand do have an agreement to cooperate in the fight against terror, a top Foreign Ministry official said.
"Extradition is a specific legal process. But fugitives can be handed over to another country under other agreements and conventions. There are 13 international conventions in regard to cooperation in combating terrorism.There is the UN Security Council Resolution 1373. And these conventions and resolutions are legally binding," the official said.
He cited several examples of countries sending fugitives to other countries for questioning outside the ambit of a formal extradition treaty.