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Cablegate: Embassy Colombo Eac Meeting January 7, 2008

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLM #0022/01 0071313
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 071313Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 7440

UNCLAS COLOMBO 000022

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR DS/IP/SCA, DS/DSS/ITA, CA, S/ES-O-CMS AND
SA/INS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC PTER CASC
SUBJECT: EMBASSY COLOMBO EAC MEETING JANUARY 7, 2008

REF: A. COLOMBO 00015

B. COLOMBO 00006

1. (SBU) Summary: AmEmbassy Colombo convened an Emergency
Action Committee (EAC) meeting on January 7, 2008. The EAC
discussed Post's security profile and security for American
citizens in general in light of the Government of Sri Lanka's
(GSL) abrogation (ref A) of the 2002 Cease Fire Agreement
(CFA). After reviewing all available information, the EAC
determined that security measures currently in place were
appropriate to the threat level. The EAC concurred that it is
not necessary to amend the current Travel Warning as the
information and advice outlined in the document is valid for
the present security environment. End summary.

2. (SBU) On January 7, 2008, AmEmbassy Colombo convened
meeting of the core EAC. Present for the meeting were the
DCM, RSO, PAO, MGT, ECON, POL, DATT, ODC, RAO, CONS, and
USAID. The agenda items for the meeting were:

A. Mission security in light of the GSL's annulment of the CFA

B. Security for the general American expatriate community

3. (SBU) The RSO noted that contacts within the Sri Lanka
Police Service (SLPS), including the desk officer for LTTE
matters and the director of Western Province (in which
Colombo is located) Intelligence conjectured that the LTTE
would try to cause maximum damage to political and economic
targets. These officers noted that LTTE's aim would be to
show that the GSL was at fault for abrogating the CFA, and
therefore the focus of possible LTTE actions would continue
to be GSL political or economic targets. Neither source
provided specific or actionable threat information beyond
their speculations. Other SLPS contacts noted that the LTTE
had, in the recent past, made maximum efforts to launch
attacks in Colombo, but the extraordinarily stringent
security measures had prevented several incidents. The RSO
commented that there still exists no information to indicate
that the U.S. Mission, Americans, or American interests are
targets of LTTE actions and that the main threat remains
being in the wrong place at the wrong time. RAO and DATT
concurred with the RSO's comments, adding that inquiries of
their sources had yielded basically the same information the
RSO obtained from the SLPS.

4. (SBU) The RSO averred that it is not necessary to increase
security measures at Mission facilities beyond the measures
currently in place, since the U.S. historically has not been
a target of LTTE attacks and given the lack of information
indicating otherwise. The RSO reiterated advice for Mission
employees to change their routes to and from work, and
especially change their times of arrival and departure, so as
to avoid the congestion of rush hour traffic in front of the
Chancery and American Center, both of which are in proximity
to the residence of the President of Sri Lanka and the
Collpetty Police Station. The EAC concurred with the RSO's
comments that the security measures currently employed at
Mission facilities are commensurate with the threat. The EAC
further recommended that the RSO remain engaged with the
Overseas School of Colombo (which most American children
attend) regarding security issues.

5. (SBU) Concerning the general American community, the EAC
agreed that a revision of Post's current Travel Warning
(issued October 19, 2007) or Warden Message (issued January
3, 2008) is not indicated because the information in both
documents is valid for the current security environment. The
Travel Warning advises American citizens of the possibility
of being in the wrong place at the wrong time; that the LTTE
has conducted politically-motivated assassinations throughout
Sri Lanka, including several in Colombo; to be aware of their
personal surroundings; and, to avoid large crowds, public
gatherings and particularly stay away from political rallies
and military bases in Sri Lanka. The Warden Message repeats
advice from the Warning, includes information regarding a
January 2, 2008 bombing (ref B) of a military transport bus
in Colombo, and recommends that American citizens defer
non-essential visits to crowded public places and
high-profile public venues.

6. (SBU) The EAC agreed that while at this time the
abrogation of the CFA does not change Post's security
profile, the situation is fluid and subject to change, and
should be monitored closely. The DATT and PAO noted some
important dates to remember - January 16 (date of formal
abrogation) and February 4 (60th anniversary of Sri Lanka's
independence). EAC members with responsibility for liaison
with GSL security elements will continue to engage their
contacts. The EAC will convene whenever necessary to review
the security environment.

7. (SBU) In summary, the EAC determined that current security
measures at Mission facilities and homes are commensurate
with Colombo's "High" indigenous terrorist threat (as
determined by DS/ITA), even taking into account the
abrogation of the CFA. The EAC further determined that the
Travel Warning and Warden Messages adequately describe the
threats and provide good advice to American citizens to
lessen their chances of becoming victims of terrorist
attacks. Therefore, the EAC recommended no additional steps
for the security of the official American community or the
expatriate American community.

8. (U) Post will continue to monitor the security environment
and will report further developments, if any, per septel.
POC for this message is RSO Michael V. Perkins, who may be
contacted at 94.11.249.8885, 94.11.249.8888 (MSG Post 1 after
regular business hours), or via the classified and
unclassified email systems.

SIPDIS
BLAKE

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