ST. JOHN'S, Newfoundland - In the four decades Gus Dalton has fished for cod in the North Atlantic, he has seen some strange things. Once he saw a sailing vessel, strung with lights like dewdrops on a spider's web, pass by and vanish into the night.
But there was no room in his imagination last Monday afternoon when he watched a large group of waving people emerge from the mist that perpetually clings to the fishing grounds 65 miles south of here. "I'm telling you, it's something to see 150 people coming up out of the water," he said.
He and his three-man crew moved the Atlantic Reaper in for a closer inspection. The people were crammed into two fiberglass lifeboats, only 12 inches separating their gunwales from the sea.
"They were talking a lot," said Dalton, 55, running his fingers through a white swatch of hair above his right ear. "And though we couldn't understand a thing they said, they were right excited."
His and two other fishing boats that came to the rescue gave food and water to the famished castaways. A few of the castaways who could speak English thanked Dalton profusely, saying they had been adrift for five days. One of them wrote down the country of their origin, Sri Lanka. Dalton had never heard of it.
Canada's first 'Boat People' came from an island which did not even share common territorial waters with it. Tamil men and women surely could not have drifted from thousands of miles away?
The group insisted they had embarked from India. The Canadians didn't buy it.
Investigations revealed that they had embarked from Germany.
Andrew Maykuth (The Philadelphia Inquirer's correspondent.)
And now the investigation has turned toward what an official of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees called "international racketeers," who West German police say charged the Tamil Hindus about $2,500 each for passage in a freighter from West German refugee settlements to the frigid Newfoundland shore.
No real Sri Lankan refugee can afford such a fare, let alone the other costs involved with such a journey across the globe.
Any Sri Lankan reading this post, up to this point, will have sirens going off in their heads. Anyone who has any insight into the Tamil Tiger movement will know right away that these were no average refugees.
These were Tamils involved with the Tigers and with considerable influence in the movement.
Ordinary Sri Lankans rarely have a means of getting to a country as far as Canada on a boat. Unless a family class sponsorship, or refugee status was offered legitimately through the Canadian High Commission, not many can get on a boat and end up illegally in Canada - even via Germany.
The Tamil Tigers have a huge support base in Canada. Tamil Canadians of Sri Lankan descent funded the terrorist movement to wage war on the democratically elected government of Sri Lanka for 30 years. Millions of dollars were raised for the procurement of arms from Canada alone.
The Tigers exploited the refugee system as a means to grow their overseas financial networks.
After all the Tigers are not considered more dangerous than Al Qaeda by the FBI for no reason.
We watched for years as Australia allowed boat loads of middle aged Tamil men - cadres of the Tamil Tiger movement - into their shores.
Recent attacks in Australia by Australian Tamils, sympathetic to the Tigers, further elaborates my point. Regardless of ethnicity, it is only extremist elements that carry out acts of gross violence. Tamils who support the Tigers' cause, and turn a blind eye to suicide bombings and child recruitment, harbour such extremist agendas.
It has finally dawned on the Australian authorities that tougher screening is required, specifically to weed out Tamil Tigers from the real refugees. It may not bring the required results because the Tigers have free movement in Australia.
The Australian has been told the recent defeat of the Tamil Tigers in their stronghold in northeastern Sri Lanka has led to concerns Tamil fighters may seek to flee the island amid fears of government retribution.
Tamils are understood to comprise most of the 194 asylum-seekers who arrived at Christmas Island on Sunday, the largest single group since the current influx began last year.
As the latest arrivals push the Christmas Island detention centre closer to capacity, the federal government yesterday formalised a five-year contract with Serco Australia, the local arm of British company Serco Group, to operate Australia's seven detention centres.
The Australian government remains one of the few developed nations yet to ban the terrorist group. The Tigers have control over Tamil immigration lawyers in Australia and other lobbyist, not to mention Australian politicians.
The Tamil Tiger movement has a considerably large revenue base. Enough to buy out any politician. Tamils, sympathetic to the terror movement, also belong to a large voter base that politicians worldwide hate to upset.
As the Tiger movement struggles to find it's feet after complete military defeat in Sri Lanka, it's remaining leaders overseas continue to look towards it's Tamil diaspora for financial support. The Tigers also want their diaspora to pressure overseas governments into punishing Sri Lanka. They see it as a means of revenge.
The future of the Tamil Tigers is largely dependent on the Pro Tiger diaspora. By shipping out more of their supporters, the Tamil Tigers hope to strengthen their support outside of Sri Lanka.
As long as there is an immigration system to exploit, a better life in a foreign land offered in exchange for support of the movement, Sri Lanka will always be painted as the island of doom.
Recommended reading: Enough Already with the Genocide Talk - The Mackenzie Institute, Canada.