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US freezes assets of Tamil charity for supporting LTTE

world Updated: Feb 12, 2009 12:07 IST
Arun Kumar
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The US has frozen the assets of US-based Tamil Foundation, a charity organisation accused of supporting rebel Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, and prohibited Americans from engaging in any transactions with it.

The action was taken by US Treasury Department on Wednesday to target "the support network of the Sri Lanka-based designated terrorist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)" by designating the Tamil Foundation under an Executive Order.

"The LTTE, like other terrorist groups, has relied on so-called charities to raise funds and advance its violent aims," said Adam J Szubin, director of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control.

"We will continue to aggressively target attempts by any terrorist group to hide behind charities, front companies, or name changes to propagate terror against innocents around the world."

The head of the Tamil Foundation is also president of the Tamils Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO) in the US. The TRO was named a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under a similar Executive Order on November 15, 2007.

Over the course of many years, the Tamil Foundation and the TRO have co-mingled funds and carried out coordinated financial actions, the Treasury said.

Additional information links the Tamil Foundation to the TRO through a matching gift programme. The common leadership of the TRO and the Tamil Foundation has facilitated these activities.

The TRO is a charitable organisation that acts as a front to facilitate fundraising and procurement for the LTTE, it alleged. Prior to its designation, Sri Lanka-based TRO operated offices in 17 other countries, including the US.

In the US, TRO has raised funds for the LTTE through a network of individual representatives. According to sources within the organisation, TRO is the preferred means for sending funds from the US to the LTTE in Sri Lanka, the department said.

The US Department of State designated the LTTE a Foreign Terrorist Organisation on October 8, 1997 and named it an SDGT on November 2, 2001.