Interrogation of Tamil Tiger leader reveals Norway's assistance towards LTTE arms procurement

The Norwegian government had helped the LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam] to establish a relationship with Eritrea which allowed the group to purchase arms, ammunition and equipment from China on Eritrean end-user certificates-the documents needed to legally buy weapons, well informed sources said.

Sources said that the tripartite understanding had been reached in Norway as far back as 2002-2003 when the Scandinavian country spearheaded negotiations aimed at ending the war in Sri Lanka. Sources said ongoing investigations had revealed that Norway facilitated the meeting between Eritrean representatives and the LTTE.

Responding to The Island's queries, sources said that the then Sri Lankan government had not been aware of the move to strengthen the conventional fighting capability of the LTTE. Sources added that some members of the LTTE negotiating team, too, had been involved with the Eritreans. Government sources said that the international community should investigate the Norwegian role in destabilizing a UN member state.

The interrogation of Kumaran Padmanathan aka ‘KP’ captured by Sri Lanka over two months ago had confirmed the Eritrean deal. India is also seeking to interrogate ‘KP’ though New Delhi never allowed Sri Lanka access to LTTE terrorists arrested during eelam war IV. Over 90 per cent of all heavy equipment, including a range of artillery pieces and 14.5 mm four barrelled anti-aircraft guns captured by the army were of Chinese origin.

Sources said ‘KP’, though unable to shed light on terrorist operations in Sri Lanka could help expose the vast international network of supporters, including the direct involvement of Norway in supporting terrorism. According to sources, the Norwegians, during bilateral talks with the LTTE had promised them to develop ocean resources. Discussions had centred on oil exploration as well as the fisheries sector, sources said adding that the far reaching Norwegian project was believed to have started as far back as the arrival of NORAD in Sri Lanka.

Sources said that the LTTE had used Eritrean and also North Korean end-user-certificates to procure arms from China and smuggled in several consignments before the Sri Lanka Navy destroyed eight floating arsenals on the high seas between September 2006 and October 2007. Sources revealed that the Norwegian embassy in Colombo went to the extent of contacting the Maldivian government in May 2007 when the Maldivian Coast Guard intercepted a trawler carrying LTTE cargo. But the Norwegians failed to save the vessel Sri Krishna, belonging to Indian fishermen from destruction, thereby providing Sri Lanka Navy intelligence slueths an opportunity to question captured LTTE cadres as well as the Indian Captain of the vessel.

The then Chief Norwegian facilitator Erik Solheim had been directly involved in forming the Eritrean-LTTE relationship, sources said. An official said that the bottom line was that Norway had eyed Sri Lanka’s ocean resources and ministers, who had represented Sri Lanka in negotiations had been totally unaware of what was going on behind their backs.

Sri Lanka recently decided to establish diplomatic relations with Eritrea. Although the former Navy Chief Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda revealed the LTTE relationship with an African country shortly after the killing of LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran on the banks of the Nanthikadal lagoon in May, in an interview with the ITN, we were the first to name the country.

- Shamindra Ferdinando.

The article above first appeared on the Septemeber 28th 2009 edition of The Island newspaper. The article is reproduced here with permission from Prabath Sahabandu, Editor, The Island.

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