January 18, 2020
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Damning Intercepts

Wireless messages indicate the LTTE wasn't acting in isolation

Damning Intercepts

ON July 19, 1990, N.V. Vathsan, then joint director, SIB, Madras, wrote to the additional director (IB), New Delhi, saying that a coded message was sent from the LTTE's chief arms procurer Kumaran Padmanabha (KP) to Prabhakaran in Jaffna on July 12. The intercept read: "My friend in America who was in touch with a CIA official, contacted the latter and requested him to help us. He (CIA) expressed that he knew what was required by us (LTTE); it should be done in a way that would be helpful to both of them and that the matter could be finalised only after the meeting and discussing with me. He (CIA), when asked, was not prepared to meet Kittu. It is possible that he (CIA) might meet me (KP) in some country other than America. Please let me know your reply. According to my friend, they (CIA) are very much interested in Trincomalee."

A second communication sent on August 3, 1990, said KP was camping in Cyprus and he had met the "old friend" and that "work has begun". In this letter, KP also sought funds. In another message sent by Prabhakaran to KP in mid-August, 1990, the LTTE asked for surface-to-air missiles (SAM) and its accessories. Orders were placed for six SAMs, a "Candle", 30 batteries used in SAMs and two pairs of spectacles worn by soldiers for firing SAMs.

On April 24, 1991, a crash message was sent to KP that Prabhakaran had plans to send an emissary to India to lobby support. The message also mentioned names from whom arms were obtained:

  •  Ibrahim, a Cyprus-based Lebanese Christian; Charles Obed, also a Lebanese Christian. The message also said the LTTE owed him a sum of $200,000 and mentioned that Obed's daughter was married to Don Joseph of Beirut, an arms dealer suspected to have CIA links.

    In another development, the MEA vide a secret letter dated January 24, 1992, sent a copy of information to the IB received through the Indian Embassy in Prague. It said that Mercuria, the company in charge of export of weapons in Prague, had been contacted and they intimated that the specific AK-47 (which was recovered by the CBI from one of the hideouts) was not manufactured in Czechoslovakia because the rifles manufactured there are serialised with five numbers. As regards the 9 mm pistols—one such pistol was recovered from one-eyed Jack Sivarasan's body—Mercuria intimated that it was manufactured in Czech in 1985 and was sold in 1986 to the Lebanese International Trading Co. The pistol (no: 114737) was exported to Lebanon as part of a larger consignment.

    Then, a letter, enclosing a copy of an article by Hamdy Fouad, diplomatic correspondent of Al Ahram, was sent by Aftab Seth, then joint secretary (external publicity), MEA, New Delhi, to the director, CBI, on August 14, 1991. It said Maseihul Rahman, one of the BCCI founders, fled to the US from London. He appeared before a select committee chaired by Sen. John Kiri, who was reported to have said that the CIA backed the BCCI to know the secrets of the bank and its involvement in a series of assassinations, including that of Rajiv.

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