Pro-LTTE diaspora interface with the underworld

August 2019: Dr Sinniah Sivaruban, in police custody, reported to the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) the plot to assassinate the presidential candidate Gotabhaya Rajapaksc. He reported that “the Tamil diaspora having “realised it would be difficult to assassinate Rajapaksc with the help of former LTTE cadres, has assigned the task to gangsters of the underworld”. He further states that the “Tamil Diaspora has pumped a lot of cash to underworld figures to accomplish this task”. In addition, Dr Sivaruban has stated that “other VIPs in the hitlist of the Tamil Diaspora include parliamentarian Douglas Devananda and former Minister Karuna Amman”.60

Hybrid nature of alliances and activities

November 2019: Mohammedu Rifkhan, aged 26, and four Tamil youth were arrested on 28 November 2019 in connection with a plot to assassinate the newly elected President Gotabhya Rajapaksc or one of his family members. The prime suspect, Hakeem Mohammedu Rifkhan, aged 26, had worked in Saudi Arabia and was fluent in Arabic and Hindi. He had proposed to the four Tamil youth that attacking the president or a family member can secure a large sum of money. In the event of any problem, he had reassured the youth of the possibility of going overseas, and if arrested, a Muslim MP known to him for the past three years, will help bail them out.

The Easter Sunday attacks (April 2009) also identified Karupiah Rajen-dran Abdullah, a former unrehabilitated LTTE member among the 10 arrested from the Copper Factory remanded for their involvement in preparing bombs for the Easter Sunday attacks. Karupiah Rajcndran was converted to Islam and given in marriage to a Muslim woman.61 Karupiah Rajcndran was denied bail. His close relationship to the Cinnamon Grand Hotel suicide bomber Insaf Ahamcd Ibrahim and the SLR 200,000 given to Karupiah prior to the Easter Sunday attack is being investigated.62

Pulasthini Mahendran, a Tamil female from Batticoloa, was married to Mohammad Hasthoon, the St. Sebastian Church bomber. She is believed to have been converted to Islam and radicalized by Islamists. She perished with 16 others in the Sainthamarithu group suicide blast. Pulasthini’s mother claims that Pulasthini was a student of and a devout practicing Hindu, when she was abducted by Abdul Razik, converted to Islam, named as ‘Sara’, and given in marriage to Hasthoon.63 A common concern expressed by the Tamil community in Batticoloa is that young Tamil females were getting into relationships with Muslim men and being converted to Islam, and later the entire family, and particularly vulnerable families that require financial assistance.64

The Tamil community in the north and the east of the country is a vulnerable group for several reasons. Islamic extremists arc likely to manipulate the following aspects in engaging the Tamil community: those who have interfaced with the LTTE and remain within a violence-related mindset likely to be vulnerable to recruitment by Islamic extremists. Those who are financially vulnerable and feel they can get away with supporting such groups and individuals are likely to be recruited for support activities. Those who possess LTTE activity related skills and if unrehabilitated are a major concern.

Other aspects include: Marriage of Tamil females to secure their loyalty' to increase their reach into the Tamil community due to the tendency of Islamic extremists to plan and conduct attacks using family-centric members. Ease of mobility, as members of the Tamil community arc not expected to be within the Islamic extremist framework and can easily go undetected. Ease of a shared common language. The use of historical anger and resentment against the state and majority community. No one aspect will result in a Tamil individual joining Islamic extremists, but a combination of such factors is likely to make an individual from the Tamil community, vulnerable to recruitment.

 
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