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Cablegate: Annual Terrorism Report for 2003: Submissions

R 240326Z NOV 03
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 6679
INFO AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI
AMCONSUL CHENNAI
AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU
AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD
AMEMBASSY DHAKA
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI
DIA WASHDC
NSC WASHDC
AMEMBASSY KABUL
AMCONSUL MUMBAI
AMCONSUL KARACHI
AMEMBASSY PORT LOUIS

UNCLAS COLOMBO 002022


DEPARTMENT FOR SA, SA/INS, S/CT FOR REAP

PLEASE ALSO PASS TOPEC

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER PGOV PINS CE MV
SUBJECT: Annual Terrorism Report for 2003: Submissions
for Sri Lanka and the Maldives

Ref: State 301352

1. Mission's response to Reftel requesting input for
the Department's 2003 Annual Terrorism Report follows.
Data on Sri Lanka is contained in Para Two and data on
the Maldives in Para Three. Para Two is keyed to
questions A through I in Reftel. Para Three contains an
overview of the situation in the Maldives.

---------
SRI LANKA
---------

2. Response for Sri Lanka:

A -- The Sri Lankan government continues to support the
international war on terrorism and displays a strong
willingness to undertake efforts to combat terrorism.
Sri Lanka has acceded to 10 of the 12 international
conventions (see Section F for more details) that deal
with combating terrorism and took steps to implement
UNSCRs 1333 and 1373 which seek to block the assets of
terrorist entities. The government has been responsive
to U.S. requests to block the assets of certain
terrorist individuals, but no assets have been found in
Sri Lanka, to date.

B -- There have been no cases of international terrorism
in Sri Lanka during the past year and no U.S. citizens
have been affected by terrorism in Sri Lanka in this
time period. There is every indication that the
government would react quickly to any such incident by
seeking -- in cooperation with the U.S. and the
international community as necessary -- to apprehend and
prosecute the perpetrators of any attack. The Sri
Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil
Eelam (LTTE), a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO)
since 1997 (its FTO status was renewed in 2003),
continue to engage in a peace process and to observe a
ceasefire accord signed in February 2002. The GSL
decriminalized membership in the LTTE organization in
September 2002 as part of that peace process.

The LTTE continued to be implicated in acts of domestic
terrorism, particularly the murder of over forty
opponents during the year. The LTTE has also never
renounced terrorism and has not disbanded its "Black
Tiger" suicide squads. After years of multiple bombings
at sites throughout Sri Lanka, however, there have been
no LTTE suicide bomb attacks since late 2001 and the
group continues to actively explore ways to advance the
peace process. The Sri Lankan government continues to
prosecute LTTE cadre accused of terrorist offenses. In
October 2003, for example, a provincial high court found
three alleged LTTE members guilty of the 1998 terrorist
bombing of Sri Lanka's most sacred Buddhist temple.

C -- The issue of extradition in relation to terrorist
acts did not arise in Sri Lanka. We believe that the
Sri Lankan government would be fully responsive to any
such request.

D -- Mission 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 U.S. and Sri
Lanka (ratified by the U.S. Senate in October 1999 and
signed by the President in November 1999) facilitated
extradition between the two countries. Sri Lanka has
also 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 Sri Lankan government is also working
with the U.S. Department of Justice to draft a Mutual
Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT).


E -- Sri Lankan government representatives have made
numerous public statements in support of the
international war on terrorism. They have also
forcefully condemned terrorist incidents elsewhere. In
a speech made to the United Nations General Assembly in
September 2003, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Wickremesinghe
expressed his support for the U.S.-led coalition and its
actions in Iraq.

F -- Sri Lanka is party to 10 of the 12 international
conventions that focus on combating terrorism, including
the Tokyo, Hague and Montreal Conventions Against
Terrorism. The GSL remains actively engaged in
committees and panels set up by international and
regional organizations (UN, OIC, SAARC) that examine
ways to counter terrorism. Sri Lanka has also actively
participated in counterterrorism legislation seminars
organized by the United States government.

G -- The GSL has not taken any actions that support
international terrorism.

H - The GSL has not offered public support for any
terrorist-supporting country on a terrorism issue.

I -- There was no discernible change in the government's
strong anti-terrorism position in 2003. Domestically,
the government continued its peace process efforts with
the LTTE, which the United States redesignated as a FTO
in October 2003. The two sides also continued to
observe the February 2002 ceasefire accord. The Sri
Lankan government continues to view the USG's
designation of the LTTE as a terrorist organization as a
positive measure and welcomed the U.S. redesignation in
October. It cites the FTO designation, as well as
similar actions by other countries against the LTTE,
along with the post-September 11, 2001, global war on
terrorism, as one of the reasons the LTTE has continued
to engage in the peace process.

--------
MALDIVES
--------

3. Consisting of almost 1,200 islands stretched
over approximately 500 miles north to south in the
Indian Ocean with a population of approximately 270,000,
the Republic of Maldives has no known indigenous
terrorism problem. The Maldivian government, however,
remains alert to the possible transit of terrorists
through the country and the activities of some alleged
hard-line, anti-government elements in the country.
Some of these alleged hard-liners have been detained and
convicted of various charges. Although the government
did not support the Iraq conflict, it did not come out
strongly in public against the U.S.-led effort.
Domestically, 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 terms of laws and regulations, the
Maldives has taken steps to implement UNSCRs 1333 and
1337, which block the assets of terrorist entities. The
Maldives has also become a party to the majority of the
12 international counterterrorism conventions. At the
United Nations General Assembly in September 2003, the
Maldivian Foreign Minister underscored the country's
strong support for the international war against
terrorism.

4. Minimize considered.

LUNSTEAD

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