Defeat terrorists for peace in SL: Karuna
LTTE is not the sole representative of
Tamils in Sri Lanka
Muralitharan (39), better known as Karuna, has become a
household name in Sri Lanka, since his defection from the
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in March 2004. He is
hated by the LTTE Wanni faction but praised by others keen on
defeating the Wanni Tigers. In a wide ranging interview with
Ruwan Weerakoon, at an undisclosed location in the east, Karuna
spoke about the Tigersí air capability, the militaryís campaign
and his own future plans, even as the government completed half
its term in office, with parliamentary elections due in three
years. He spoke of provincial council elections and the need for
a referendum in the east in another two years to determine
whether the easterners wish to merge or de-merge with the north.
Q: Recently, the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) base at
Katunayake was bombed by the LTTE. What are your views?
A: Ever since Jaffna was captured, Prabhakaran planned to
purchase several small planes known as light aircraft from
Thailand and other countries in the east to be assembled here.
Q: Was this after 1994?
A: Yes. After 1994, after the Riviresa operation,
Prabhakaran started on a plan to purchase light aircraft. When
the Cease-Fire Agreement (CFA) was signed between Ranil
Wickremesinghe and Prabhakaran, the interim period was used to
purchase light aircraft. He sent his cadres for training in
private schools in Thailand and Malaysia. However,
military-wise, this attack cannot be considered a major one. On
the ground, Prabhakaran has lost many of his strongholds. The
east is almost totally lost, while he is losing in the north.
This attack on the air base is a propaganda stunt to create fear
in the minds of the people. The aircraft will also be used for
suicide missions. This was planned several years ago. Even if
Prabhakaran purchases nuclear weapons, he cannot achieve his
goal of a separate state.
Q: What is the exact year the LTTE purchased aircraft and how
did it do it?
A: As per the CFA, the LTTE was allowed access to and use of
the sea for training and fishing after five months, the LTTE
commenced smuggling weapons, ordnance and dismantled light
aircraft by ship, aided by the clauses in the CFA.
Q: What is the role played by Jeyakumar in Australia? Did he
A: We heard that he has died. Jeyakumar was close to
Prabhakaran and played a key role in fundraising. Though he
played an important role in purchasing aircraft, his main role
was fundraising. Those who played important roles in purchasing
aircraft are K. Pathmanathan, better known as KP, and one
Pradeep Master. Weapons, ordnance and aircraft are purchased
from countries such as Ukraine. Even artillery is purchased from
Ukraine. There are many brokers assisting the LTTE to purchase
Q: What type of artillery was smuggled in during the CFA and
A: Some six 130 mm artillery guns, four 152 mm guns and more
than 20 122 mm guns and Multi Barrel Rocket Launchers (MBRL)
were smuggled in. They were brought by ship and unloaded off
Challai near Mullaitivu.
Q: What advice do you have to destroy the LTTEís air
A: In fact, the LTTEís air capability is not that great.
There are only five or six small planes, which isnít much. My
advice is that three steps should be taken. Firstly, the LTTE
strongholds on the ground should be captured, starting with
securing the A9 route. Next, the Sri Lankan Government should
strengthen the Sri Lanka Navy to be able to effectively prevent
the smuggling of weapons and ordnance by sea, which is the main
supply route for the arming of the Tigers. Thirdly, LTTE
fundraising overseas should be stopped.Funds are raised in many
ways, including illegal money laundering. If these are stopped,
automatically, Prabhakaranís organisation would come to a
standstill. However, the capture of the ground level strongholds
should be the primary objective. Then, LTTE activities will
automatically come to a standstill. Then, the organisation wonít
even have a runway for their small planes.
Q: The SLAF has taken on several targets. According to your
information, were these targets accurate?
A: The many air raids launched by the SLAF are accurate.
Many Sea Tiger bases and Forward Defence Lines (FDL) have been
destroyed, with many commanders and cadres killed. But air raids
alone would not help to completely destroy the strength of the
LTTE. For example, a gravel road could be used as a runway for
light aircraft. Hence, my suggestion is to first capture land
and their strongholds, thereby destroying the LTTE.
Q: Do you think the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) is on the right
track in taking on the Tigers? How do you rate the concept Ďseek
and destroyí by small group teams?
A: The present SLA Chief Sarath Fonseka has used these new
changes as war tactics. During Operation Jayasikuru, scores of
army personnel were involved in the operation and the army
suffered heavy losses. As a war tactic the military has formed
small groups. The army is successfully targeting and destroying
the LTTE. What it is doing is drawing the LTTE towards it and
making a frontal attack. Many LTTE cadres are killed as a
result. In Vakarai, nearly 200 LTTE cadres died, with minimal
loss to the SLA of just 40 or 42 killed. Although it is a slow
process and time consuming, it is a good concept. It is good to
build up the morale of the security forces, as they wonít get
frustrated when losses are minimal on their side. The other
aspect is that it has helped capture the strongholds. They are
now consolidating in many places.
Q: Operations are to be expanded into the Wanni, Madhu,
Kilinochchi and possibly, Mullaitivu. What do you anticipate?
A: When well planned tactics are employed, they succeed.
After we quit the LTTE, the organisation lost its capability to
A: When I was in the LTTE, 95% of the offensives were
launched by my commanders and me. But now, there isnít a single
commander with that capability in the LTTE outfit. For example,
three years have lapsed since we left the LTTE, and not a single
army camp captured. For instance, last month, it could not even
capture the Mavadivembu army camp, which had only 40 soldiers.
In the past, military operations were launched for political
gain, with much political propaganda about it. But now, military
operations are for the purpose of destroying or eradicating
terrorism. The army should be given complete authority to decide
how to launch operations and attacks to destroy terrorists.
Earlier, operations like Jayasikuru were used for political
Q: Can the security forces win this war or not?
A: The SLA is well organised. It has the capacity and the
capabilities. Hence, once the decision making power is given to
the SLA, there is no doubt that it will win this war.
Q: How about SLAFís air power and the military in general?
A: SLAFís power has been strengthened. Nowadays the
targeting is accurate. The recent success of the military is
because the commandos are used on the ground as commandos and
the infantry as infantry, which situation was not there in the
past. The Navy is also doing well. Within this month, four ships
have been destroyed. The supply to the LTTE has been curtailed
by the Sri Lanka Navy. They are performing well.
Q: What about the air targets Ė are they accurate or not?
A: The targets are accurate. The navy is doing well, and
within this month, four ships have been destroyed. The supply to
the LTTE has been obstructed by the Sri Lanka Navy. They are
Q: You mentioned Jayasikuru. Didnít you attack the government
troops from the rear?
A: Yes, we took all measures to counter that operation with
our offensives. It is said that attack is the best form of
defence. So our counter operations during Jayasikuru rendered
the army helpless.
Q: Did Prabhakaran give you instructions regarding this
particular attack that you launched?
A: Prabhakaran didnít know anything. At that time, I drew up
the whole plan and executed the counter operations during
Jayasikuru. He appointed me to be in charge of counter
operations. I was not involved in the counter operations during
Q: It is alleged that the Karuna group has connections to the
SLA. What do you say?
A: That is not true. It is false propaganda. Our movement is
a political movement. We have a military wing at our bases in
the forest for self defence purposes. Hence, the allegation
about our connection with the SLA is completely false.
Q: Do you totally deny any involvement with the SLA?
A: Military-wise, we donít have any connection with the SLA.
However, our political wing, which is unarmed, has requested
security from the government. Security is provided to our
offices in Colombo, Batticaloa and Trincomalee to enable us
carry out our political activities.
Q: There are strong allegations that you abduct children and
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has condemned you on this score. Even
UN Special Representative Allan Rock alleged that the army is
helping your faction in recruiting child soldiers?
A: It is strange to hear that the SLA is assisting us.
Furthermore, we donít abduct children. I would like to clearly
state that nearly 20 of our offices manned by our cadres are
functioning in government-controlled areas in the east. So, if
those cadres had been recruited forcibly and sent to those
offices, they would have escaped by now.
Q: But, couldnít they be forcibly held by the military?
A: We donít need to recruit children, since we donít have a
need to strengthen our military. Our military is only for self
defence. Furthermore, we donít need to strengthen our military
to infiltrate because the SLA is doing that. It is defeating the
LTTE. In areas liberated by the army, we are putting up
political offices to help the people to rebuild and resettle in
these places. Hence, we donít have a need to strengthen our
military by recruitment. We want to bring a complete stop to
Q: Why is it that the LTTE does not use its power in the
east? Why doesnít the LTTE use its air capability in the east?
A: The LTTEís air capability is not strong. It has some
small planes, which are not enough to launch attacks on the
Q: In that case, how did it attack the Katunayake Airbase?
A: It canít launch a proper air raid, and engage in an air
battle. It can only conduct hit and run raids.
Q: Why canít the LTTE build a runway in your area?
A: It canít do that.
Q: Why not?
A: Its territory is very narrow.
Q: LTTE Political Wing Leader, S.P. Thamilselvan has said
very clearly that if the SLAF continues bombing LTTE camps, the
LTTE will bomb Colombo. What is your comment?
A: Yes, as a terrorist organisation it will do this. In the
past, there have been many instances where the LTTE attacked
innocent civilians following battlefield losses. It plants bombs
inside public transport. These are terrorist activities. My
advice is that the Wanni has to be captured.
Q: What is the clout that LTTE Intelligence Wing Leader Pottu
Amman has within the outfit?
A: In short, Pottu Amman is a butcher. He has killed many
innocent Tamil civilians and political leaders. He is famous for
killing. He has never participated in the battlefield.
Q: Is he a good intelligence leader?
A: No. All planning is by Prabhakaran and Pottu Amman
carries out the orders. Hence, he Pottu Amman cannot be
considered an intelligence leader.
Q: Why is Pottu Amman so influential?
A: Pottu Amman doesnít have the capacity to lead. He is a
killer. He is connected to the Rajiv Gandhi killing. He is a
wanted person in many countries and that has made him famous.
Other than that, he doesnít have the capacity to lead the LTTE.
Q: Sornam, Bhanu, Soosai and Reuben are your past comrades.
Ramesh is your good friend. Your comments, please?
A: Soosai belongs to the fisher folk from Velvetithurai, and
a puppet of Prabhakaran, dancing to his tune. He has some
experience in the sea, and that is all. Sornam has lost many
battles and was punished by Prabhakaran. He was sent to the east
after losing in the north. In the east too he was not
successful. Now, he has been sent to Madhu. Rueben is not a
commander or a leader. He took charge of the financial aspects
of the LTTE. Ramesh was my subordinate and was working under me.
He was under my control.
Q: Has Prabhakaran sent Ramesh to kill you?
A: Prabhakaran has told Ramesh to kill me, but Ramesh is not
brave enough to do that.
Q: Has Prabhakaran made any attempt to kill you in the past
A: From the day I quit the organisation, up to now, he has
been attempting to kill me since I pose a serious threat to him.
But he canít do that. We are ready to face that challenge.
Q: What is the strategy to expand control of the east?
A: Politically, we are making the people understand that
Prabhakaranís struggle for a separate state cannot be achieved
and hence, a hopeless one. Once the people realise this and
accept it, the LTTE will not have the opportunity to infiltrate
and will be defeated. Then, we would take control in the east.
Q: What is the LTTEís strategy to counter your group?
A: The LTTE strategy to counter us has been destroyed. It
was defeated. We will make the world realise that the LTTE is
not the sole representative of the Tamils. We have the advantage
of knowing the terrain. Hence, in this instance, Prabhakaran can
do nothing in the east.
Q: Where were you in 1997, 1998 and 1999?
A: With the LTTE in Batticaloa
Q: Did the LTTE acquire planes during that period?
A: There were no planes in 1997 and 1988. In 1999, there
were only two light helicopters. All the planes were acquired
after the CFA.
Q: Tell me about the peace talks which you also attended.
A: We went for negotiations but we knew it would not succeed
since, as a matter of fact, Prabhakaran did not have the will to
arrive at a political solution. Before going for the talks,
according to the discussion he had, he had asked his men to use
this interval to purchase weapons. So, in fact, he had no
intention of striking a peace deal.
Q: He just wanted to drag the peace talks?
A: It was a drama.
Q: What is the way out of this?
A: The Sri Lanka Government and the forces must defeat the
terrorists and only then come for peace talks.
Q: As a former leader of the LTTE, you strongly believe that
the LTTE has to be destroyed?
A: Prabhakaran does not have a single thought towards peace.
Hence, destroying Prabhakaran is the only way at arriving at a
lasting peace in Sri Lanka.
Q: Are you going to submit proposals to the All Party
Q: What kind of political solution are you suggesting for the
A: What we wish is a political solution within a united Sri
Lanka. We are drafting proposals for that and very soon we would
be publishing them.
Q: Has the subject of north-east merger been included in the
A: We have to liberate the east from the oppression of the
Prabha-group and thereafter, hold elections. Reconstruction and
resettlement should take place after a provincial council
election is held. Two years later, a referendum should be held
in the east to ascertain the will of the eastern people as to
merge or de-merge with the north. It is up to the people; they
have to decide.