The United States on Thursday dealt a major blow to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) by freezing the assets of Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO) on the charge that it has been raising funds in the US for the LTTE to buy arms.
Recently, the US gave the Sri Lankan armed forces three radars and 10 dinghies for the defense of the Tamil-speaking North-East against LTTE attacks. And on Thursday, the US Treasury froze the funds and other assets of the TRO in the US, and prohibited US citizens from doing any business with the TRO or its designees.
Washington had declared the LTTE as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation in 1997 and as a Global Terrorist Organisation in 2001. The ban on LTTE continues. The EU, Canada and India had also banned the LTTE.
"The TRO has raised funds on behalf of the LTTE through a network of individual representatives. According to sources within the organisation, the TRO is the conduit of funds from the United States to the LTTE in Sri Lanka," a US embassy release said.
"The TRO also has facilitated LTTE procurement operations in the US. Those included the purchase of munitions, equipment, communication devices and other technical equipment for the LTTE."
"The TRO's efforts world wide, reportedly have allowed the LTTE to use humanitarian aid the TRO collected from the international community after the December 24 tsunami to launch campaigns to strengthen LTTE military capacity," the US embassy said.
The TRO's headquarters is in Kilinochchi, which is also the headquarters of the LTTE. The organisation has branches in other parts of Sri Lanka, US, Canada, several countries of Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
The Sri Lankan government said on Friday that the LTTE had been collecting up to $ 30 million a month from Sri Lankan Tamil expatriates across the globe.
Praising the US Treasury for freezing the assets of the LTTE front — Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO), the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama told parliament that Sri Lanka could now expect a "significant decline" in the collections of the LTTE world wide which ranged from $ 20m to $30m per month.
The US government had become the "first foreign government to take tangible action against an LTTE front organization," Bogollagama said. But the minister warned that eternal vigilance was necessary because the LTTE had become an expert in circumventing curbs and bans.