More information on LTTE chief Pathmanathan's arrest

According to D.B.S. Jeyaraj, on this post, Pathmanathan was arrested at the Tune Hotel in Malaysia when he stepped out of his room to answer a phone call. Later, the Daily Mirror quoted an official at Tune Hotel who claimed that an internal investigation revealed that KP did not stay there.

However, Ruwan Weerakoon from Bottomline has pointed out that KP registered at the Tune hotel using a "bogus passport." The Bottom Line's defence correspondent, Ruwan Weerakoon, has spoken to senior Malaysian intelligence officials, as well as local sleuths, who grilled KP. His article in full is republished below with permission from The Bottom Line. I encourage you to read it on their website by clicking here.

Inside story of Operation KP
KP starts to spill more beans
2009 - 08 - 12

“The way I operated 25 years under cover, I never thought that I will be caught. But I was. During the final stages of the battle in the north of Sri Lanka, Prabhakaran wanted me to approach the international community on behalf of the LTTE leadership to force the Sri Lankan government to agree to a ceasefire. Therefore V. Prabhakaran has appointed me International Relations Head. I was able to persuade Norway’s Minister for International Affairs (Erik Solheim) to approach the USA to exert pressure on the Sri Lankan government to stop the military operations. Prabhakaran had told me that if the war continued, it would be the end of the LTTE as the Sri Lankan military was stronger than they had anticipated and the Tigers were getting weaker. He further stated that the tactics of the military adopted by General Fonseka is the end of LTTE. I had spoken with Vija Nambiar, Chief of Staff of UN Secretary General as well as Western diplomats and some VVIPs," Kumaran Pathmanathan had told the intelligence sleuths interrogating him in Colombo, adding that Prabakaran had instructed to use any amount of LTTE funds to stop the war.

KP also added that together with USA based V. Rudrakumaran, he had lobbied the international community and human rights groups to exert pressure on the Sri Lankan Government for a ceasefire.

A separate group based overseas had continuously lobbied the foreign media and on his instructions had separately contacted and entertained journalists to carry out propaganda, KP had told the interrogators. “I heard that most of those I used to contact in Sri Lanka are no more in the island,” he had told them. “The Eelam War IV was the toughest time. After over 30 years our leaders’ armed struggle was wiped out on May 18,” a dejected KP had added. KP is to spill more beans to the skillful intelligence officers currently interrogating him.

KP: The emerging LTTE leadership nipped in the bud

Now held within a confidential and highly guarded Sri Lankan defence establishment, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam’s (LTTE) chief weapons procurer and international financial head, Shanmugam Kumaran Tharmalingham, also known as Kumaran Pathmanathan, or just by his initials ‘KP’, has his wings clipped. Aspiring to lead the LTTE after its founding leader Velupillai Prabhakaran was killed by the Sri Lankan military, last May 18, KP had vowed to deviate from an armed struggle and instead form a ‘Trans-National Government (TNG) of Tamil Eelam. Incorporating the widely spread Tamil diaspora around the world.

Intelligence rapport pinpoints KP’s location

The main architect behind the success of the Sri Lankan intelligence services in apprehending KP has been none other than Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. Rajapaksa built a strong rapport with the foreign intelligence services by making official visits to countries like Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, where he had explained the importance of tracking down KP.

In addition, when the then Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka took over the helm as Commander of the Sri Lanka Army, he realised the importance of the intelligence service, and revamped the entire network. He handpicked several officers to lead vital sections. This led to the neutralising of several high profile LTTE intelligence operatives in and around Colombo. One such person, who is currently heading the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI), who had coordinated work regarding the apprehending of KP, deserves a promotion as a Major General, sources indicated to this column.

During the height of the Eelam War IV, the Sri Lankan security forces recovered several satellite phones belonging to high profile Tiger leaders. The intelligence services had monitored each and every call that had originated or had been received by those phones. When Velupillai Prabhakaran’s satellite phone was recovered after he was killed, on May 18, intelligence officers found that the last call he had made was to Kumaran Pathmanathan. Almost at the same time, Sri Lanka’s State Intelligence Services (SIS) too had been monitoring KP’s telephone calls with the assistance of certain foreign intelligence services. Each and every bit of information, however insignificant, was routed to Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

Through this tracking, the Sri Lankan intelligence services zeroed in on the possible locations where KP usually frequented, mostly in Malaysia. Once zeroed in on the possible location, a special team of intelligence officers visited Malaysia. Due to the sensitive nature of this classified information, this column will desist from naming the officers who flew to Malaysia. This team met with it;s Malaysian counterparts, the Malaysian Special Branch (MSB). The Malaysian officials readily agreed to send KP to Sri Lanka if and when arrested.

How KP was apprehended

An official from the Malaysian Special Branch told this column exclusively -- on conditions of anonymity -- that their unit had images of KP from the interview that he had given to the UK based Channel 4 TV network. The network stated that KP was interviewed at an ‘undisclosed location.’

Later, the MSB sleuths had utilised computer technology to modify, identify, and verify that it was in fact KP who had been interviewed. “Though Channel 4 said the location was ‘undisclosed’, we easily identified the location”, added the MSB official.

KP is around 5 feet 7 inches in height, weight around 70kg. He walked into Tune Hotel and submitted one of his bogus passports and checked into the hotel on July 29 and he had told the receptionist that he would stay one week or two.

KP was occupying a room in Tune Hotel in Kuala Lumpur. He had booked a room for a week’s duration at US dollars 51 per day.

On August 5 around 8.30pm, Kumaran Pathmanathan, dressed in a T-shirt and trousers, came to the lobby of the hotel to receive some guests from the United Kingdom. Both guests were LTTE sympathisers. He accompanied them to the hotel’s restaurant for a meal. They ordered a vegetarian dinner for KP while for the guests it was crabs, jumbo prawns, seer fish and vegetables with a bowl of rice.

While they were thus enjoying a sumptuous dinner, some Malaysian Special Branch officers in plain clothes were monitoring their every move. They were even video taping KP and relaying the images to their headquarters for matching. The images were found to tally with their earlier images and KP’s identity was confirmed.

After dinner, when the trio was eating fruits for dessert, an MSB officer called KP on the mobile telephone number they already possessed. KP answered his mobile phone immediately to find the call being cut off. This was additional confirmation.

After KP accompanied his guests to the hotel’s main entrance and bid them goodbye and turned to retire to his room, the MSB officers showed their identity cards and apprehended him.

Questioning KP begins

Subsequent to the arrest, the MSB began questioning KP regarding his connections with extremist Hindu groups sympathetic towards the LTTE. A senior MSB officer said that the main such group of Malaysia, the Hindu Rights Action Force, was a potential threat to the country’s sovereignty and integrity, as well as security.

“We are in possession of evidence that KP has had close links with Hindu extremist rights activists. He has had lengthy discussions with this group and also with a senior Chief Minister in one of the provinces of Malaysia. Our intelligence is apprehensive that KP will resort to supplying weapons to this group, and also utilise Malaysia as a hub for his drugs trafficking the way he did for the LTTE,” a senior MSB officer said. The Hindu extremist rights activists' organisation is banned in Malaysia and this group is sympathetic to the LTTE.

When the Sri Lankan government was informed of KP’s arrest, a special flight was dispatched to Bangkok airport immediately. Though it landed at the Bangkok airport, the Malaysian authorities and civil aviation staff were very cooperative in keeping the details under wraps, so much so that hardly anybody knew of the arrival, or departure of this flight.

In the early hours of August 7, when the special flight landed at Colombo, a car with heavily tinted windows was waiting on the tarmac with a few security officers. The vehicle was heavily escorted by army and they whisked KP away to an undisclosed place where he is still being detained.

Who is KP?

Propelled by his friendship with LTTE leader V. Prabhakaran, KP saw a phenomenal rise within the organisation. Born in Jaffna on April 6, 1955 he entered the University of Jaffna in the mid 1970s and by the late 70s, had been involved with terrorist groups. He is said to have enjoyed immunity from the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) which supported the LTTE from August 1983 to July 1987. He took this opportunity to associate with Indian intelligence officers and this also helped him build a solid network which would come in handy later.

Some of the names attributed to him are: Shanmugam Kumaran Tharmalingham, Tharmalingam Shanmugan Kumaran, Kumaran Pathmanathan, Kutti Master, Kutti Siri - LTTE code names, Thambiah Selvaraja and Kuldi – the last name being used for arms procurement negotiations.

KP operated under a dozen aliases, using multiple passports, including Sri Lankan, Indian, Swiss, Malaysian, Thai, and Egyptian. Since the early 1980s, he has operated from India (Madras and Bombay), Malaysia (Penang and Kuala Lumpur), Thailand (Bangkok and Chiang Mai), and Cambodia. He also has visited the U.S, Europe and the Middle East to procure weapons and dual-use technologies. As the LTTE is a well-known terrorist group, KP operated through three dozen LTTE fronts, covers, and sympathetic organisations.

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