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Cablegate: Sri Lanka/Maldives: 2001 Annual Terrorism Reports

O 121151Z DEC 01
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1601
INFO AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU
AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI
AMCONSUL CHENNAI
AMEMBASSY DHAKA
AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 COLOMBO 002233

DEPARTMENT FOR S/CT REAP, DS/ATA, L/LEI, IO, SA/RA, SA/INS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER PGOV PREL CE MV
SUBJECT: SRI LANKA/MALDIVES: 2001 ANNUAL TERRORISM REPORTS

REFS: (A) STATE 210627; (B) STATE 198192

1. POST'S RESPONSE TO REF B REQUEST FOR INPUT FOR THE
DEPARTMENT'S 2001 ANNUAL TERRORISM REPORT FOLLOWS. DATA
ON SRI LANKA IS CONTAINED IN PARA TWO AND DATA ON THE
MALDIVES IN PARA THREE. PARAS 2-3 ALSO CONTAIN
INFORMATION RESPONSIVE TO REF A CONCERNING UPGRADING
HOST COUNTRY ANTI-TERRORISM LAWS.

2. DATA ON SRI LANKA FOLLOWS:

BEGIN TEXT:

SUMMARY
-------
SRI LANKA HAS BEEN COOPERATIVE IN THE GLOBAL CAMPAIGN
AGAINST TERRORISM. THERE IS NO INFORMATION THAT
INDICATES THAT THERE IS ANY RISK THAT GSL COOPERATION
WILL DECREASE. THROUGHOUT 2001, THE GSL CONTINUED TO
BATTLE THE LIBERATION TIGERS OF TAMIL EELAM (LTTE), THE
ONLY TERRORIST GROUP CURRENTLY BELIEVED ACTIVE IN SRI
LANKA. THE GSL SUFFERED LARGE-SCALE CASUALTIES IN AN
OFFENSIVE ON LTTE POSITIONS IN NORTHERN SRI LANKA IN
APRIL. THE LTTE LAUNCHED A DEVASTATING ATTACK ON THE
INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AND AIRBASE COMPLEX NORTH OF
COLOMBO IN LATE JULY. THE LTTE ALSO ENGAGED IN NUMEROUS
HIT-AND-RUN ATTACKS IN THE NORTH AND EAST THROUGHOUT THE
YEAR. IN EARLY NOVEMBER, A SUICIDE BOMBER BLEW HIMSELF
UP IN DOWNTOWN COLOMBO, KILLING FIVE OTHER PEOPLE. IN
OCTOBER 2001, THE DEPARTMENT RE-DESIGNATED THE LTTE AS A
FOREIGN TERRORIST ORGANIZATION UNDER PROVISIONS OF THE
ANTI-TERRORISM AND EFFECTIVE DEATH PENALTY ACT OF 1996.
IN LATE OCTOBER 2001, THE LTTE WAS ADDED TO THE
PRESIDENT'S EXECUTIVE ORDER 13224 BLOCKING THE ASSETS OF
TERRORIST ENTITIES. BOTH THE UNITED KINGDOM AND CANADA
TOOK STEPS TO BAN LTTE ACTIVITIES IN 2001. IN NOVEMBER,
SRI LANKA TOOK STEPS TO IMPLEMENT UNSCR 1333 AND 1373,
WHICH CALLED FOR U.N. MEMBER-STATES TO FREEZE THE ASSETS
OF TERRORIST ENTITIES. THE U.S. CONTINUES TO URGE THE
SRI LANKAN GOVERNMENT TO BECOME A PARTY TO THE REMAINING
FOUR OF THE 12 INTERNATIONAL COUNTERTERRORISM
CONVENTIONS IT DOES NOT BELONG TO ALREADY.

(((THE FOLLOWING RESPONSES ARE KEYED TO QUESTIONS A
THROUGH M IN PARA TWO OF REF B.)))

(A) IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE SEPTEMBER 11 ATROCITIES,
THE SRI LANKAN GOVERNMENT IMMEDIATELY DECLARED ITS
WILLINGNESS TO COOPERATE WITH THE U.S. AND OTHER
COALITION PARTNERS IN THE GLOBAL CAMPAIGN AGAINST
TERRORISM. IN NOVEMBER, SRI LANKA TOOK STEPS TO
IMPLEMENT UNSCR 1333 AND 1373, WHICH CALLED FOR U.N.
MEMBER-STATES TO FREEZE THE ASSETS OF TERRORIST
ENTITIES. BECAUSE OF THE LONGSTANDING WAR AGAINST THE
LTTE, THE GSL ALREADY HAD MANY COUNTERTERRORISM LAWS ON
THE BOOKS. IN ADDITION, IN INTERNATIONAL FORA,
INCLUDING AT THE UNITED NATIONS, THE SOUTH ASIAN
ASSOCIATION FOR REGIONAL COOPERATION (SAARC), AND THE
COMMONWEALTH, THE GSL HAD ALREADY PROVEN ACTIVE IN
DISCUSSIONS ON WAYS TO FIGHT TERRORISM INTERNATIONALLY.
THERE IS NO INFORMATION THAT INDICATES THAT THERE IS ANY
RISK THAT GSL COOPERATION WILL DECREASE.

(B) THROUGHOUT 2001, THE SRI LANKAN GOVERNMENT HERALDED
MANY INSTANCES WHEN PURPORTED LTTE TERRORIST ATTACKS
WERE THWARTED. IT IS DIFFICULT TO CONFIRM MOST OF THESE
GSL CLAIMS. IN NOVEMBER, HOWEVER, POLICE INTERCEPTED A
SUICIDE BOMBER IN DOWNTOWN COLOMBO BEFORE HE REACHED HIS
TARGET. (NOTE: THE TARGET COULD HAVE BEEN THEN-PRIME
MINISTER WICKREMANAYAKE.) THE SUICIDE BOMBER DID MANAGE
TO DETONATE HIS BOMB, KILLING FIVE OTHER PEOPLE,
INCLUDING TWO POLICE OFFICERS. IN OCTOBER, THE POLICE
ALSO CLAIM TO HAVE FOUND A "SUICIDE VEST" PACKED WITH
HIGH-GRADE EXPLOSIVES IN A LOCAL COLOMBO PARK. THE GSL
CLAIMS THAT THIS VEST WAS TO BE USED TO ATTACK PRESIDENT
KUMARATUNGA.

(C) THE GSL CONDUCTED NO PROSECUTIONS OF PEOPLE INVOLVED
IN INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM IN 2001. WITH RESPECT TO
DOMESTIC TERRORISM, THE GSL CONTINUED TO ARREST AND
DETAIN SUSPECTED OPERATIVES OF THE LTTE. IN DOING THIS,
THE GSL RELIED ON THE AUTHORITY PROVIDED BY THE
PREVENTION OF TERRORISM ACT (PTA) AND ALSO A 1998
BLANKET ACT BANNING LTTE ACTIVITIES. MANY OF THOSE
ARRESTED ARE ULTIMATELY CHARGED AND CONVICTED OF THE
CRIME OF WITHHOLDING INFORMATION. TO DATE, THE GSL HAS
NOT APPREHENDED OR PROSECUTED ANY IMPORTANT LTTE
LEADERS. LTTE LEADER VELUPILLAI PRABHAKARAN AND EIGHT
OTHER LTTE MEMBERS REMAIN INDICTED FOR COMPLICITY IN THE


JANUARY 1996 CENTRAL BANK BOMBING.

(D) THE GSL DID NOT EXTRADITE OR REQUEST THE EXTRADITION
OF SUSPECTED TERRORISTS FOR PROSECUTION DURING THE YEAR.
THE U.S. GOVERNMENT DID NOT REQUEST ANY EXTRADITIONS OR
ASK FOR ASSISTANCE IN TERRORIST CASES. IN JUNE 1995,
THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA REQUESTED THE EXTRADITION OF
LTTE LEADER PRABHAKARAN AND TWO OTHER SENIOR LTTE
OFFICIALS (INTELLIGENCE CHIEF POTTU AMMAN AND WOMEN'S
WING LEADER AKILA, ALTHOUGH MOST BELIEVE THE LATTER IS
DEAD) FOR COMPLICITY IN THE 1991 ASSASSINATION OF RAJIV
GANDHI. NO EXTRADITION PROCEEDINGS HAVE BEGUN, AND IT
SEEMS UNLIKELY SECURITY FORCES OR POLICE WILL APPREHEND
THESE LTTE LEADERS AS EVENTS NOW STAND.

(E) THE PREVENTION OF TERRORISM ACT MAKES TERRORISM
ILLEGAL IN SRI LANKA AND THE GSL PROSCRIBED THE LTTE IN
1998. POST HAS NO KNOWLEDGE OF SIGNIFICANT IMPEDIMENTS
TO GSL PROSECUTION AND/OR EXTRADITION OF SUSPECTED
TERRORISTS. IN FACT, THE SEPTEMBER 1999 SIGNING OF A
GENERAL EXTRADITION TREATY BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTRIES
(RATIFIED BY THE U.S. SENATE IN OCTOBER AND SIGNED BY
THE PRESIDENT IN NOVEMBER 1999), FACILITATED EXTRADITION
BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTRIES. SRI LANKA HAS SIGNED THE
1988 SAARC REGIONAL CONVENTION ON THE SUPPRESSION OF
TERRORISM, WHICH DESIGNATES CERTAIN ACTS SPECIFICALLY AS
TERRORIST ACTS AND NOT AS POLITICAL ACTS, THEREBY
NULLIFYING ATTEMPTS BY TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS TO CLAIM
POLITICAL MOTIVATIONS FOR VIOLENCE. THE GSL THEREFORE
SEEMS OBLIGED TO COOPERATE WITH THE REQUEST FROM INDIA
FOR THE EXTRADITION OF PRABHAKARAN, THOUGH ITS OWN
PROSECUTION OF THE LTTE LEADER WOULD LIKELY TAKE
PRECEDENCE.

(F) AS MENTIONED ABOVE, THE SRI LANKAN GOVERNMENT
CONSIDERS ITSELF A "FRONT-LINE" STATE IN THE WAR AGAINST
TERRORISM, HAVING BATTLED THE LTTE FOR ALMOST 20 YEARS.
AS PART OF ITS CAMPAIGN TO ISOLATE THE LTTE, THE GSL
GIVES STRONG SUPPORT TO INTERNATIONAL EFFORTS TO ADDRESS
THE TERRORISM PROBLEM, INCLUDING IN THE
POST-SEPTEMBER 11 TIMEFRAME. THE GSL CONTINUES TO URGE
STATES TO TAKE STEPS TO BAN THE LTTE, WHICH THE UNITED
KINGDOM AND CANADA DID EARLIER THIS YEAR. THE GSL
COOPERATED FULLY WITH THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA IN ITS
INVESTIGATION OF THE RAJIV GANDHI ASSASSINATION. SRI
LANKA REGULARLY CONDEMNS INTERNATIONAL TERRORIST ATTACKS
IN OTHER COUNTRIES, HAS SIGNED THE TOKYO, THE HAGUE AND
MONTREAL CONVENTIONS AGAINST TERRORISM, AND HAS PASSED
THE NECESSARY ENABLING LEGISLATION FOR ALL THREE
PROTOCOLS. SRI LANKA HAS ALSO SIGNED THE INTERNATIONAL
PROTOCOL AGAINST BOMBING IN JANUARY 1998. IN 1997, SRI
LANKA RATIFIED THE 1988 PROTOCOL FOR THE SUPPRESSION OF
UNLAWFUL ACTS OF VIOLENCE AT AIRPORTS SERVING
INTERNATIONAL CIVIL AVIATION. IN ADDITION, IT HAS
EITHER SIGNED, OR HAS TAKEN THE NECESSARY INTERNAL STEPS
TO BECOME A SIGNATORY, TO THE 1979 CONVENTION AGAINST
THE TAKING OF HOSTAGES, THE 1979 CONVENTION ON THE
PHYSICAL PROTECTION OF NUCLEAR MATERIALS, AND THE 1988
CONVENTION FOR THE SUPPRESSION OF UNLAWFUL ACTS AGAINST
THE SAFETY OF MARITIME NAVIGATION. THOUGH THE GSL HAS
YET TO RATIFY THE 1991 CONVENTION OF THE MARKING OF
PLASTIC EXPLOSIVES FOR THE PURPOSES OF DETECTION, THE
MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CONTINUES TO INDICATE THAT
THE GSL WILL CONSIDER BECOMING A SIGNATORY. THE U.S.
CONTINUES TO URGE THE SRI LANKAN GOVERNMENT TO BECOME A
PARTY TO THE REMAINING FOUR OF THE 12 INTERNATIONAL
COUNTERTERRORISM CONVENTIONS IT DOES NOT BELONG TO
ALREADY.

(G) THROUGHOUT 2001, THE GSL CONTINUED TO CONDUCT A
LARGE-SCALE WAR EFFORT AGAINST THE LTTE. THIS WAR HAD
MANY FACETS: BY CONDUCTING COUNTER-TERRORIST AND
COUNTER-INSURGENCY OPERATIONS AGAINST THE LTTE,
INCLUDING MILITARY ACTIONS AND SPECIAL MEASURES TO
PROTECT URBAN AREAS, IMPORTANT INSTALLATIONS AND
GOVERNMENT LEADERS, THE GOVERNMENT HOPES TO WEAKEN THE
LTTE AND INHIBIT ITS ABILITY TO CONDUCT TERRORIST
ATTACKS AS WELL AS MILITARY OPERATIONS. IN ADDITION, AS
REVIEWED ABOVE, SRI LANKA REMAINED ACTIVE IN
INTERNATIONAL FORA AND IN BILATERAL CONSULTATIONS IN
URGING COUNTRIES TO TAKE STRONG STEPS AGAINST TERRORISM.
SRI LANKA WAS COOPERATIVE IN THE POST-SEPTEMBER 11
TIMEFRAME, REPEATEDLY CONDEMNING THE ATROCITIES
COMMITTED THAT DAY, AND SUPPORTING THE INTERNATIONAL
EFFORT TO HOLD THOSE RESPONSIBLE FULLY ACCOUNTABLE.

(H) NOT APPLICABLE - THE SRI LANKAN GOVERNMENT DOES NOT
SUPPORT INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM.

(I) THE GSL HAS MADE NO PUBLIC STATEMENTS IN SUPPORT OF
A TERRORIST-SUPPORTING COUNTRY ON A TERRORISM ISSUE.
THAT SAID, LARGELY BECAUSE OF ITS "NON-ALIGNED" STATUS,
SRI LANKA HAS NOT PARTICIPATED ACTIVELY IN INTERNATIONAL
CONDEMNATION OF THE TERRORIST ACTIVITIES OF CUBA, IRAN,
IRAQ, LIBYA, NORTH KOREA, SUDAN, OR SYRIA.
ADDITIONALLY, ITS CONDEMNATION OF ANTI-ISRAELI
TERRORISM, SUCH AS THAT CARRIED OUT BY HAMAS AND ISLAMIC
JIHAD, IS RELATIVELY MUTED.

(J) THERE WAS NO DISCERNIBLE CHANGE IN THE GOVERNMENT'S
STRONG ANTI-TERRORISM POSTURE IN 2001. IF ANYTHING, THE
EVENTS OF SEPTEMBER 11 ONLY SOLIDIFIED THE GSL VIEW THAT
TERRORISM IS AN INTERNATIONAL PROBLEM THAT NEEDS TO BE
ADDRESSED THROUGH COHERENT, COORDINATED MULTILATERAL
EFFORTS. THE GOVERNMENT VIEWS THE CONTINUING USG
DESIGNATION OF THE LTTE AS A FOREIGN TERRORIST
ORGANIZATION AS POSITIVE, AND THE RECENT ACTIONS BY THE
UNITED KINGDOM AND CANADA BANNING LTTE ACTIVITIES AS
BREAKTHROUGHS IN ITS ANTI-TERRORISM EFFORTS.

(K) IN THE POST-SEPTEMBER 11 ENVIRONMENT, THE U.S.
HEIGHTENED ITS COMMUNICATIONS WITH THE GSL CONCERNING
THE INTERNATIONAL MENACE OF TERRORISM. IN RESPONSE, SRI
LANKA WAS COOPERATIVE AND TOOK ACTIONS TO IMPLEMENT
UNSCR 1333 AND 1373 VIA FREEZING THE ASSETS OF TERRORIST
ENTITIES. IN TERMS OF BILATERAL COOPERATION WITH THE
U.S., THE GSL CONTINUES TO ACCEPT U.S. OFFERS OF
ASSISTANCE UNDER THE ANTI-TERRORISM ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
(ATA). THREE SEPARATE TRAINING PROGRAMS TOOK PLACE IN
2001. THESE INVOLVED:

-- HOSTAGE NEGOTIATION;

-- CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION; AND,

-- SURVEILLANCE DETECTION.

(L-I) THE GSL CONTINUES TO COOPERATE FULLY WITH U.S.
OFFICIALS INVESTIGATING POSSIBLE VIOLATIONS OF U.S. LAW
BY INTERNATIONAL TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS.

(L-II) AMERICAN CITIZENS ARE NOT BELIEVED TO BE THE
PRIMARY TARGET OF TERRORIST ATTACKS IN SRI LANKA.
AMCITS, HOWEVER, HAVE BEEN IN THE WRONG PLACE AT THE
WRONG TIME, AND HAVE BEEN INJURED IN AT LEAST ONE PAST
ATTACK: IN OCTOBER 2000, TWO AMERICANS BYSTANDERS WERE
INJURED IN A SUICIDE BOMB EXPLOSION IN COLOMBO.

(M) THE U.S. GOVERNMENT HAS MADE SEVERAL REQUESTS TO THE
GSL FOR ADDITIONAL SECURITY MEASURES FOR U.S. PERSONNEL
AND FACILITIES IN SRI LANKA. THE GSL HAS MET ALL
REQUESTS EXPEDITIOUSLY, INCLUDING IN THE
POST-SEPTEMBER 11 ATMOSPHERE WHEN THERE WERE SOME ANTI-
U.S. PROTESTS. THESE REQUESTS WERE MADE TO ENHANCE
SECURITY IN GENERAL AND NOT IN RESPONSE TO ANY
IDENTIFIABLE THREAT.

END TEXT.

2. DATA ON THE MALDIVES FOLLOWS:

BEGIN TEXT:

CONSISTING OF OVER 1,100 ISLANDS SET IN THE INDIAN OCEAN
WITH A POPULATION OF APPROXIMATELY 270,000, THE REPUBLIC
OF MALDIVES HAS NO INDIGENOUS TERRORISM PROBLEM AT THIS
TIME. THE MALDIVIAN GOVERNMENT, HOWEVER, HAS EXPRESSED
CONCERNS ABOUT THE POSSIBLE TRANSIT OF TERRORISTS
THROUGH THE COUNTRY (THERE IS NO SOLID EVIDENCE OF THIS)
AND ALSO OVER THE ACTIVITIES OF SOME HARD-LINE RELIGIOUS
ELEMENTS OPERATING IN THE COUNTRY (SOME OF WHOM HAVE
BEEN DETAINED). MALDIVIANS ALSO REMAIN FOCUSED ON
PREVENTING A REPEAT OF THE EVENTS OF 1988 WHEN A FORMER
MALDIVIAN GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL LAUNCHED A COUP ATTEMPT
WITH THE HELP OF SRI LANKAN TERRORIST ELEMENTS. THE
COUP FAILED DUE TO THE INTERVENTION OF THE INDIAN ARMED
FORCES. DESPITE THESE CONCERNS, THE MALDIVES HAS
EXPRESSED CONFIDENCE THAT IT CAN DEAL WITH POTENTIAL
PROBLEMS. IN THE AFTERMATH OF SEPTEMBER 11, THE
GOVERNMENT OF THE MALDIVES PROVED EXTREMELY COOPERATIVE
IN ITS DEALINGS WITH THE INTERNATIONAL COALITION, AND
REPEATEDLY DENOUNCED THE ATROCITIES COMMITTED THAT DAY.
IN TERMS OF CONCRETE ACTIONS, THE MALDIVES TOOK
IMMEDIATE STEPS TO FULLY IMPLEMENT UNSCR 1333 AND 1337,
WHICH BLOCKED THE ASSETS OF TERRORIST ENTITIES. THE
U.S. CONTINUES TO URGE THE MALDIVIAN GOVERNMENT TO
BECOME A PARTY TO THE REMAINING FIVE OF THE 12
INTERNATIONAL COUNTERTERRORISM CONVENTIONS IT DOES NOT
BELONG TO ALREADY.

END TEXT.


WILLS

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