Tamils in Australia helping LTTE: FBI

The FBI has said that Tamils in Australia have been funding the LTTE to carry out terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka.

india Updated: Sep 02, 2006 17:51 IST

The Australian police have launched investigations into several Tamil organisations in this country, after the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) accused the Tamil community here of supporting rebels in Sri Lanka.

The FBI has said that Tamils in Australia have been funding the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to carry out terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka.

The FBI accusation comes on the heels of the arrest of 13 men in the US last week who were allegedly plotting to buy Russian-made shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles and assault rifles for the Tamil Tigers.

Though it is not known whether those arrested had any links with anyone in Australia, Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers have been investigating the activities of several Tamil organisations in Sydney and Melbourne.

According to sources, FBI documents tendered in a New York court said Australia played a key role in the global fundraising efforts for the rebels.

"The LTTE relies heavily upon supporters in Europe, US, Canada and Australia to raise and launder money, acquire intelligence and purchase technology and military arms and equipment," the report quoted the FBI as saying.

In December last year, a series of raids were conducted after reports that Tamils in Australia were helping the LTTE. However, no arrests were made.

Prior to those raids, Sri Lanka had warned the Australian government that charity donations given by Australians after the 2004 tsunami in South Asia might have been used to fund the Tamil rebels.

The Australians had given over $1 million Australian dollars to the Sri Lankan victims of the tsunami, largely through two Tamil organisations, the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO) and the Tamil Co-ordinating Committee (TCC).

However, both the organisations have strongly refuted the charge.

But, the FBI has maintained that the North American offices of these two organisations were "fronts" for the clandestine channelling of financial and military aid to the rebels.

"The LTTE relies on front charitable organisations, including the TRO and World Tamil Co-ordinating Committee among others to give their fundraising activities the appearance of legitimacy" the FBI was quoted as saying in the report.

"These organisations are also used to smuggle goods to the LTTE in Sri Lanka," it added.

A TCC spokesman, Perambalam Senthooran, said that that the organisation had received legal advice that its fundraising activities did not breach Australian law.

TRO's head in Australia, a Melbourne-based gynaecologist named Rajan Rasiah, has, however, said that the TRO had no choice but to cooperate with the Tamil Tigers in directing charitable contributions because they controlled northeastern parts of Sri Lanka.

"You have to work with the permission, with the approval and with the support of the LTTE if you want to work in the northeast," Rasiah said.

He has, however, denied the charge that the TRO is funding the Tamil Tigers.

There are over 50,000 Tamils in Australia, both of Indian and Sri Lankan origin.

First Published: Sep 02, 2006 17:51 IST