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Cablegate: Sri Lanka: 1998 Annual Terrorism Report

R 061108Z NOV 98
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 3686

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 003592

DEPT FOR S/CT FOR REAP

DEPT ALSO FOR SA/INS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER CE
SUBJECT: SRI LANKA: 1998 ANNUAL TERRORISM REPORT

REF: (A) STATE 202128, (B) COLOMBO 2736

1. THE FOLLOWING IS POST'S RESPONSE TO REF A
REQUESTING INPUT FOR THE DEPARTMENT'S 1998 ANNUAL
TERRORISM REPORT. THE GOVERNMENT OF SRI LANKA (GSL)
CONTINUED TO BATTLE THE SEPARATIST LIBERATION TIGERS
OF TAMIL EELAM (LTTE), THE ONLY TERRORIST GROUP
CURRENTLY BELIEVED TO BE ACTIVE IN SRI LANKA. ON
OCTOBER 8, 1997, THE DEPARTMENT DESIGNATED THE LTTE AS
A FOREIGN TERRORIST ORGANIZATION UNDER PROVISIONS OF
THE ANTI-TERRORISM AND EFFECTIVE DEATH PENALTY ACT OF
1996. THROUGHOUT 1998 THE GSL CONTINUED INTENSIFIED
MILITARY OPERATIONS AGAINST THE LTTE. BETWEEN MAY
1997 (WHEN THE GOVERNMENT LAUNCHED A MAJOR OFFENSIVE
TO OPEN A LAND-ROUTE TO JAFFNA) AND THE END OF 1998,
OVER 5000 COMBATANTS ON BOTH SIDE COMBINED WERE KILLED
IN THE FIGHTING. LTTE TERRORIST ACTIVITIES CONTINUED
DURING THE YEAR, WITH, FOR EXAMPLE, A SHIP HIJACKING,
A TRUCK BOMBING AT THE PRINCIPAL BUDDHIST TEMPLE IN
SRI LANKA, ANO A VEHICLE BOMBING IN COLOMBO WHICH LEFT
28 CIVILIANS DEAD. THERE IS ALSO COMPELLING EVIOENCE
THE LTTE WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR SHOOTING DOWN A CIVILIAN
AIRCRAFT ON SEPTEMBER 29, KILLING ALL 55 PASSENGERS
AND CREW ONBOARD. THERE WAS NO EVIDENCE THE LTTE WAS
USING THE INTERNET TO ATTACK GSL EMBASSIES OR OTHER
TARGETS.

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THE FOLLOWING RESPONSES ARE KEYED TO QUESTIONS A
THROUGH K IN PARA 3 OF REFTEL.

2. (A) THERE WERE NO GSL PROSECUTIONS OF PEOPLE
INVOLVEO IN INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM OR SIGNIFICANT
ACTS OF OOMESTIC TERRORISM. MANY SUSPECTEO MEMBERS OF
THE LTTE HAVE BEEN ARRESTED AND DETAINED UNDER THE
EMERGENCY REGULATIONS AND THE PREVENTION OF TERRORISM
ACT AND SOME HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH RELATIVELY MINOR
OFFENSES SUCH AS WITHHOLDING INFORMATION. NO
IMPORTANT LTTE LEADER HAS EVER BEEN APPREHENDED AND
PROSECUTED. LTTE HEAD VELUPILLAI PRABHAKARAN AND NINE
OTHER LTTE MEMBERS REMAIN INDICTED FOR COMPLICITY IN
THE JANUARY 31, 1996 CENTRAL BANK BOMBING.

(B) 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 ASSTSTANCE IN TERRORIST
CASES. IN JUNE 1995, THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA
REQUESTED THE EXTRADITION OF LTTE HEAD PRABHAKARAN AND
TWO OTHER SENIOR LTTE MEMBERS (INTELLIGENCE CHIEF
POTTU AMMAN AND WOMEN'S WING LEADER AKILA, THE LATTER
OF WHOM IS NOW BELIEVED DEAD) FOR THE ASSASSINATION OF
RAJIV GANDHI. EXTRADITION PROCEEDINGS HAVE NOT BEGUN,
AND IT SEEMS UNLIKELY THAT THESE LTTE LEADERS WILL BE
APPREHENDED IN ANY EVENT.

(C) POST IS AWARE OF NO SIGNIFICANT IMPEDIMENTS TO
GSL PROSECUTION AND/OR EXTRADITION OF SUSPECTED
TERRORISTS. THE GSL, HOWEVER, WOULD LIKE TO NEGOTIATE
A NEW EXTRADITION TREATY WITH THE USG SINCE THE
CURRENT TREATY PRE-DATES SRI LANKA'S INDEPENDENCE AND
HAS BEEN SUBJECT TO INCREASING LEGAL CHALLENGES DURING
COURT CASES IN SRI LANKA. IN SRI LANKA, TERRORISM IS
ILLEGAL UNDER THE PREVENTION OF TERRORISM ACT. SRI
LANKAN EXTRADITION LAW PERMITS EXTRADITION OF
INDIVIDUALS TO OTHER COMMONWEALTH COUNTRIES.
MOREOVER, SRI LANKA IS A SIGNATORY TO THE 1988 SOUTH
ASIAN ASSOCIATION FOR REGIONAL COOPERATION (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 REQUESTS
FROM INDIA FOR THE EXTRADITION OF PRABHAKARAN AND
POTTU AMMAN, THOUGH IT IS LIKELY THAT ITS OWN
PROSECUTION WOULD TAKE PRECEDENCE -- ESPECIALLY NOW
THAT PRABHAKARAN HAS ACTUALLY BEEN INDICTED FOR A
TERRORIST ACT.

(0) ITSELF A TARGET OF A TERRORIST ORGANIZATION, THE
GSL HAS BEEN STRONGLY SUPPORTIVE OF INTERNATIONAL
EFFORTS TO ADDRESS THE PROBLEM OF TERRORISM. THE GSL
COOPERATED FULLY WITH THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA IN THEIR
INVESTIGATION OF THE RAJIV GANDHI ASSASSINATION. SRI
LANKA HAS BEEN QUICK TO CONOEMN INTERNATIONAL
TERRORIST ATTACKS IN OTHER COUNTRIES, AND IS A
SIGNATORY TO THE TOKYO, THE HAGUE AND MONTREAL
CONVENTIONS AGAINST TERRORISM, AND HAS PASSED THE
NECESSARY ENABLING LEGISLATION FOR ALL THREE
PROTOCOLS.

(E) THE GSL IS CONDUCTING ONGOING COUNTER-TERRORIST
ANO COUNTER-INSURGENCY OPERATIONS AGAINST THE LTTE,
INCLUOING MILITARY ACTIONS AND SPECIAL MEASURES TO
PROTECT URBAN AREAS, IMPORTANT INSTALLATIONS ANO
GOVERNMENT LEADERS. THESE ARE AIMED AT WEAKENING THE
LTTE AND INHIBITING ITS ABILITY TO CONDUCT TERRORIST
ATTACKS AS WELL AS MILITARY OPERATIONS. THE GSL
ADDRESSED TERRORISM ISSUES THIS YEAR IN SEVERAL
INTERNATIONAL FORA INCLUDING THE UNGA IN NEW YORK AND
THE UNHRC IN GENEVA.

(F) THE GSL DOES NOT SUPPORT INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM.

(G) THE GSL HAS MADE NO PUBLIC STATEMENTS IN SUPPORT
OF A TERRORIST-SUPPORTING COUNTRY ON A TERRORISM
ISSUE. HOWEVER, IT HAS NOT ACTIVELY PARTICIPATED IN
INTERNATIONAL CONDEMNATION OF THE TERRORIST ACTIVITIES
OF LIBYA, IRAQ, IRAN AND SUDAN. THE GSL'S SUPPORT OF
U.S. STRIKES AGAINST TERRORIST TARGETS IN SUDAN AND
AFGHANISTAN WAS ONLY LUKEWARM, WITH THE GSL STATING
THAT THE STRUGGLE AGAINST INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM
SHOULD BE CONDUCTEO "NOT BY UNILATERAL ACTION BUT IN
FULL CONFORMITY WITH INTERNATIONAL LAW, THE PRINCIPLES
OF THE UN CHARTER AND RESPECT FOR THE SOVEREIGNTY AND
TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY OF ALL STATES" (REF B).

(H) THE GSL VIEWS THE OCTOBER 8, 1997 USG DESIGNATION
OF THE LTTE AS A FOREIGN TERRORIST ORGANIZATION AS A
MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH IN ITS ANTI-TERRORISM EFFORTS. THE
USG DESIGNATION HAS ENCOURAGED THE GSL TO MAINTAIN ITS
APPROACH TO COMBATING TERRORISM BOTH DOMESTICALLY AND
INTERNATIONALLY.

(I) THE GSL HAS ACCEPTED THE U.S. OFFER OF INCREASED
ASSISTANCE UNDER THE ANTI-TERRORISM ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
(ATA). IN 1998, SRI LANKAN SECURITY FORCES PERSONNEL
TOOK PART IN SEPARATE TRAINING PROGRAMS IN EXPLOSIVE
INCIDENT COUNTERMEASURES, VITAL INSTALLATION SECURITY,
AND POST-BLAST INVESTIGATION. THE GSL HELPED DRAFT
AND WAS THE FIRST COUNTRY TO SIGN THE INTERNATIONAL
PROTOCOL AGAINST BOMBING AT THE UN IN JANUARY (THE USG
SIGNED SECOND). 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 IS EITHER A SIGNATORY, OR
HAS TAKEN THE NECESSARY INTERNAL STEPS TO BECOME A
SIGNATORY, TO THE 1979 CONVENTION AGAINST THE TAKING
OF HOSTAGES, AND THE 1979 CONVENTION ON THE PHYSICAL
PROTECTION OF NUCLEAR MATERIALS. THOUGH THE GSL HAS
YET TO RATIFY THE 1991 CONVENTION OF THE MARKING OF
PLASTIC EXPLOSIVES FOR THE PURPOSES OF OETECTION, ANO
THE 1988 CONVENTION FOR THE SUPPRESSION OF UNLAWFUL
ACTS AGAINST THE SAFETY OF MARITIME NAVIGATION, THE
MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS HAS INDICATED THAT THE GSL
IS RECEPTIVE TO BECOMING A SIGNATORY.

(J-1) THE GSL HAS COOPERATED FULLY WITH U.S.
OFFICIALS INVESTIGATING POSSIBLE VIOLATIONS OF U.S.
LAW BY INTERNATIONAL TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS.

(J2) THERE HAVE BEEN NO CONFIRMED CASES OF TERRORIST
ACTS DIRECTED AGAINST U.S. CITIZENS IN SRI LANKA.

(K) THE U.S. GOVERNMENT HAS MADE SEVERAL REQUESTS
TO THE GSL FOR ADDITIONAL SECURITY MEASURES FOR U.S-
PERSONNEL AND FACILITIES IN SRI LANKA. ALL REQUESTS
HAVE BEEN MET EXPEOITIOUSLY BY THE GSL. THESE
REQUESTS WERE MADE TO ENHANCE SECURITY IN GENERAL AND
NOT IN RESPONSE TO ANY IDENTIFIABLE THREAT.

DONNELLY

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