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Cablegate: Amembassy Colombo Eac Meets Regarding Security

VZCZCXYZ0008
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLM #0981 3031004
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 291004Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8828

UNCLAS COLOMBO 000981

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR DS/IP/RD/SCA, DS/DSS/ITA AND SA/INS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC CASC PTER AMGT
SUBJECT: AMEMBASSY COLOMBO EAC MEETS REGARDING SECURITY
CONSIDERATIONS FOR ELECTION NIGHT EVENTS

REF: SECSTATE 114666

1. (SBU) Summary: On October 29, 2008, AmEmbassy Colombo
convened an Emergency Action Committee (EAC) meeting in
response to guidance provided reftel. The EAC considered
potential threats, if any, to post's planned election day
representational event. RSO informed the EAC of the security
measures for the event, which the EAC concurred were prudent
and appropriate to post's threat environment. End summary.

2. (SBU) On October 29, 2008, AmEmbassy Colombo convened an
EAC meeting. Present for the meeting were the Deputy Chief
of Mission, Regional Security Officer, Consular Officer,
Political Officer, Economic Officer, Regional Affairs
Officer, Management Officer, Public Affairs Officer, USAID
Director, IBB Station Chief, Community Liaison Officer, and
Marine Security Guard Detachment Commander. The agenda item

for the meeting was post's security plan for the
representational "election night" event, scheduled for 0600
to 1200 (noon) local on November 5, 2008 at the Hilton Hotel.

3. (SBU) No EAC member had any information that indicated the
election day event would be the likely target of an attack.
The DCM and RSO noted that the LTTE were highly unlikely to
target the event. The LTTE has never intentionally targeted
the U.S. or U.S. interests in Sri Lanka. The LTTE is unlikely
to target any GSL personalities invited to the event, thereby
risking injuries to USG personnel or American expatriates.
RSO averred, and the EAC concurred, that there exists no
credible information to indicate that Al Qaeda or similar
terrorist organizations that might target a U.S.-affiliated
event are even present in Sri Lanka. (RSO note - The Muslim
minority population in Sri Lanka, although generally opposed
to U.S. policies in the Middle East, is more concerned about
GSL policies that more directly affect the community.)
Therefore, the EAC agreed that post should tailor security
measures to actual threat level, rather than implement the
entire list detailed reftel.

4. (SBU) RSO noted that the Hilton Hotel, in which post is
holding the event, is located within one of the most highly
restricted security zones in Colombo. The Hilton is close to
several high profile GSL facilities. Sri Lanka security force
road blocks are on every road leading to, and adjacent to,
the Hilton. With few exceptions, the security forces stop and
search almost all vehicles that try to enter the high
security zone. Therefore, the venue itself will provide a
margin of security for the event. Public Affairs had not
advertised the event beyond the guest list and added that it
was not open to the public. The PAO expects 500 to 700 guests
for the event. Since section and agency heads invited
contacts, the EAC believed that having Mission staff members
available to identify the guests was a prudent measure.

5. (SBU) The EAC concurred that the following measures were
appropriate in light of the actual threat level:

-- RSO will request support from the Sri Lanka Police
Service's (SLPS) Ministerial Security Division (MSD) and
Special Task Force (STF).

-- RSO will augment SLPS personnel with Local Guard Force
(LGF) members.

-- RSO will ask MSD and STF to conduct a bomb sweep of the
venue and to complete the sweep by no later than 0545 hr. on
the day of the event. (RSO note - Should neither MSD nor STF
be able to provide bomb detection elements at such an early
hour, the LGF will sweep the venue with post's own bomb
detection equipment.)

-- In the event that an invited guest fails to bring an
invitation, Mission personnel will be available to
corroborate the person's identity.

-- RSO will ask the Hilton to provide list of employees
assigned to the event.

-- LGF staff will check hotel staff assigned to the event
with hand-held metal detectors.

6. (U) Post will continue to monitor the security environment
and plans to safeguard the event. Post will report further
developments, if any, 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), and
by email at perkinsmv@state.gov (unclassified) or
perkinsmv@state.sgov.gov (classified).
Blake

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