sow, so shall they reap?
What must concern us is whether
Tamil militancy will supplant itself in western countries, in much the
same manner. It is not a possibility that could be easily dismissed as
improbable. Certainly, all the right ingredients are there: a militancy
that has been cut short in the home country, relative affluence in the
countries that they reside in and ideological aspirations that are, as
yet, largely unfulfilled. It may seem the ultimate irony, but soon, Sri
Lankans who fled the country because of terrorism here, may find
themselves the targets of Tamil terrorism in their adopted nations
Terrorism sponsored by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE),
the scourge that haunted Sri Lanka for the past 30 years, has,
overnight, become a threat to the West, and it is a development that
brings a new dimension to the Sri Lankan ethnic issue.
At the height of the war with the Tigers in mid-May, there was
unprecedented pressure on the government in Colombo, to let go of the
stranglehold they had on the LTTE. Special envoys from many influential
western nations were hopping the next flight to Katunayake, and queuing
up to meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa, to try and convince him to call
off the military offensive.
These visits were not without reason- and also, not entirely because
these countries were sincerely concerned of the plight of civilians
caught up in the final conflict in Mullativu.
Most of these countries had substantial Tamil populations, which
successfully lobbied their respective governments, to try and coerce
Colombo into granting the Tigers yet another reprieve. Their efforts
failed, but as these countries are learning now, their efforts may
boomerang on them.
No one disputes that the civilians engulfed in the throes of the
final battle were unfortunate, and even the Government of Sri Lanka
concedes that, there may have been some civilians casualties- although
not on the scale claimed by some western media organisations. But, at
the same time, the governments that attempted to speak ostensibly on
their behalf, also ignored another fact: the LTTE was not only a
terrorist group, they also were a well organised criminal outfit.
It is no secret that, the Tigers drew a substantial portion of their
revenue from criminal activities; arms smuggling, narcotics and
organised extortion were some of the significant income generation
avenues for the LTTE. Most of these rackets were carried out outside Sri
With the decimation of the LTTE’s top leadership, it is not just yet
entirely clear as to what would become of this vast business empire.
There are reports that, the organisation’s self appointed successor to
Velupillai Prabhakaran, Kumaran (Selvarasa) Pathmanathan alias KP, would
take over the mantle, being as he is the point man for the Tigers’
But then, it is not as if KP will be allowed a free rein as
undisputed leader. On the one hand, there is an Interpol manhunt for
him, and the Sri Lankan authorities have made no secret of the fact
that, they are soliciting the cooperation of other governments, to
launch a search for this criminal, who they believe, has the potential
to become a nuisance in the future.
Conversely, KP’s proclamation that he was the heir apparent to
Prabhakaran, has prompted dissension in what remains of the Tigers as
well. Many are disappointed that KP was quick to give credence to
Prabhakaran’s death, and there are rivals eyeing the job as well.
What all this means is that, this phase of the LTTE’s demise will
have to be played out, not in the jungles of Mullaitivu or, the beaches
of the Jaffna peninsula, but in other capitals of the world. And that
would be a perennial headache for the terror conscious Western world.
A hint of what might be expected has been witnessed already: many
shops belonging to Sinhalese Sri Lankans have been damaged in several
cities across the world, a student in Sydney, Australia, has been
seriously injured and some Sri Lankan cricketers called off a visit to
the English university city of Oxford, because of purported threats
received from Tamils of Sri Lankan origin there.
Therefore, although terrorism in Sri Lanka may be dead, it is fast
re-incarnating itself into a serious law and order problem in other
countries. And this could well be only the beginning.
The West might as well be apprehensive. They know only too well the
consequences of tolerating and fomenting organisations that are fronts
for terrorist groups. Britain, for instance, had a long history of
permitting the existence of such groups on its’ soil, only to find them
turning increasingly militant and thereafter, unequivocally, terroristic
in the post 9/11 period.
Today, this is a serious cause for concern in Britain, which had to
bear the brunt of the July 7 bombing spree in London several years ago.
Now of course, so-called ‘Islamic terrorism’, a misnomer if ever there
was one, is a dirty word in Britain, and the law enforcement authorities
there are trying their utmost, to clamp down on groups which are
ideologically related to the Al-Qaeda, but all these efforts seem to be
a trifle too late-the seeds of terrorism have been sown, and they seem
to be growing fast too: most members of such groups are second
generation Britishers, born and bred in the United Kingdom, and they
seem to be more fanatical than their mentors!
What must concern us is whether Tamil militancy will supplant itself
in these western countries, in much the same manner. It is not a
possibility that could be easily dismissed as improbable. Certainly, all
the right ingredients are there: a militancy that has been cut short in
the home country, relative affluence in the countries that they reside
in and ideological aspirations that are, as yet, largely unfulfilled.
It may seem the ultimate irony, but soon, Sri Lankans who fled the
country because of terrorism here, may find themselves the targets of
Tamil terrorism in their adopted nations.
That irony apart, these possibilities should alert the West that, they
would only be doing themselves a favour by cooperating with Sri Lanka,
instead of insisting on passing strictures on Colombo, and cooking up
ghastly statistics. But, will they ever learn?