Is LTTE’s new global wing chief wanted by Interpol?

February 1st, 2009 - 5:11 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 1 (IANS) Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers, facing the worst ever crisis, have formed a new global front to possibly resume peace parleys. But is its first head the same man who is sought by India and the Interpol?Websites sympathetic to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) identified the chief of the newly set up Department of International Relations as Selvarasa Pathmanathan.

The TamilNet reported Jan 30 that the LTTE leadership - a euphemism for Velupillai Prabhakaran - had “recently” made the appointment and described Pathmanathan as “a high profile representative of the movement”.

“Pathmanathan will be representing the movement in any further peace initiatives and will be the primary point of contact for engaging with the international community, according to a letter sent to various international actors by the LTTE’s Department of International Relations,” it said.

TamilNet added that Pathmanathan will work abroad “with required mandate from the LTTE leadership” and that he had “begun corresponding with international actors”.

The announcement gave no details about Pathmanathan but Indian officials say he is none other than Prabhakaran’s long-time loyalist popularly known as Kumaran Pathmanathan alias ‘KP’.

If the officials are correct, then KP is the same one who is listed in the records of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Interpol liaison in India, as Shanmugam Kumaran Tharmalingam.

KP, who should now be 53, is wanted in India on charges of criminal conspiracy and violation of the Indian Explosives Act among other things.

The CBI lists him as a Sri Lankan who is proficient in English, Sinhalese, Tamil and French.

KP has for decades been the LTTE’s chief procurer of arms, ammunition and electronic equipment. He also helped raise finances abroad in the initial years of the LTTE and set up its many offices in foreign countries.

More important, he laid the foundation of a clandestine LTTE shipping network that became the Tigers’ virtual lifeline. He is known to have several aliases and once possessed many Indian and Sri Lankan passports.

Born to a fisherman father and educated in Jaffna, KP was among the young Tamils who became radical in the 1970s due to Tamil-Sinhalese tensions.

After initial association with the Federal Party and the Tamil United Liberation Front, he joined the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation, one of half a dozen militant groups of the early 1980s.

According to those who know him, KP fled to India in 1981 after being suspected in a bank robbery in Jaffna. He reportedly met Prabhakaran for the first time in Tamil Nadu in 1982.

After the 1983 anti-Tamil riots in Sri Lanka, KP joined the LTTE. Prabhakaran, noticing his talents, asked him to raise a secret global network to raise finances and keep the Tigers supplied with weaponry.

As Tamil militancy galloped, KP toured the world extensively, visiting one country after another, in all the continents, using passports both genuine and forged. His mission was to ship arms to Sri Lanka’s northeast.

For years he remained in the background, so much so that he got released twice in India after being arrested in the early 1980s because Indian officials had no idea who he really was.

Throughout his eventful career, even as the LTTE’s global network expanded so much that he had to be divested of some of the charges, he was resolutely loyal to Prabhakaran.

He was not formally linked to the 1991 assassination of former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, for which the LTTE was blamed.

But the CBI began to hunt for him because he was believed to have procured the grenades and grenade pellets linked to Gandhi’s killing and the earlier slaying of K. Pathmanabha of a rival Tamil group. Both men were murdered in Tamil Nadu.

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