Canada Host’s Sri Lanka’s Most Wanted Terrorist
- Human smuggling by LTTE ignored by Canada
By Camelia Nathaniel
Sri Lanka’s Vavuniya High Court Judge sentenced Kanagarajah Ravishankar alias Sangilli, one of Sri Lanka’s most wanted terrorists, in absentia to 30 years imprisonment on June 24, 2014. The police are seeking international support to apprehend the convict. Together with Shanmugasundaram Kanthaskaran alias Karan alias Aruna of the LTTE Branch in London, Ravishankar of the LTTE Branch in Canada was responsible for transporting arms, ammunition and explosives from North Korea to Sri Lanka. Initially the duo worked for Kumaran Pathmanathan alias KP; and from December 2002 until May 2009 they worked for Ponniah Anandarajah alias Ayyar, a US citizen, who managed the North Korean account.
They served in the procurement and shipping branch of the LTTE while engaging in clandestine and criminal activities such as drug trafficking, human smuggling and financial fraud, etc. After the Sri Lankan conflict ended, they continued with their criminal activities including human smuggling ventures to Canada, US, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
Addressing a special media briefing at Police Headquarters, Police spokesman Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Ajith Rohana said that an INTERPOL red notice had been issued on the fugitive Kanagarajah Ravishankar in 2010. The LTTE leader was convicted for the procurement of three arm shipments for the LTTE. A former captain of LTTE arms ships, Ravishankar smuggled several thousand tons of arms, ammunition and explosives from North Korea to Sri Lanka. http://www.westerlynews.ca/local-news/victoria-rcmp-on-way-to-intercept-migrant-ship-reports-say-1.186843#sthash.uwSyXJ7M.dpuf
“The convict had been involved in human smuggling activities in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand and was the main procurement agent for the LTTE…The Police will prosecute all the LTTE suspects hiding overseas in a similar manner…Convict Ravishankar is hiding in Canada,” he added.
The Sri Lankan authorities released a photograph of Kanagarajah Ravishankar with LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran and Sea Tiger Chief Thillaiyampalam Sivanesan alias Soosai. Residing in Canada, Ravishankar not only studied navigation but procured maritime and other technologies purchased in Canada for the LTTE. Before he became a naturalized citizen of Canada, Ravishankar served as Captain of the LTTE Merchant Tanker ‘Showa Maru’. The Indian intelligence first came to know of MT Showa Maru during Operation Tasha launched by New Delhi in 1990, when it discovered that Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence was in contact with the LTTE external leadership in London, Paris and Bangkok. http://www.sundaytimes.lk/990509/sitrep.html
According Sri Lankan, Indian and other intelligence services, Ravishankar transported armaments to the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) by LTTE merchant vessels, and then loaded them on to LTTE logistics boats. Around that time Ravishankar was nearly apprehended in a joint naval operation but managed to flee. Thereafter, Ravishankar was engaged in the procurement of armaments, vessels and other dual user technologies. For his role in human smuggling, Ravishankar is the subject of a multinational investigation and will probably be arrested soon.
Other evidence likely to be released shortly links Ravishankar and other human smugglers to the directing figures of LTTE fronts and activities in Canada and Norway. The investigations reveal that revenue from human smuggling has been used by the LTTE fronts in Canada and elsewhere to lobby at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva and fund human rights groups against the Government of Sri Lanka. Hitherto, the LTTE used revenue from drug trafficking and other criminal activities to fund its ‘Geneva Account’ managed by KP. Today, the LTTE largely uses its revenue from credit card, bank and cheque fraud and human smuggling to fund its lobbying activities at the UNHRC in Geneva.
Many Sri Lankans call Geneva a drama because financiers and supporters of the LTTE of yesterday masquerade today as ‘human rights’ advocates in Geneva against Sri Lanka. It is ironic that terrorist ideologues and leaders ranging from GTF leader Father S. J. Emmanuel to TGTE leader Viswanathan Rudrakumaran are talking about human rights!
Ravishankar’s activity in the maritime and procurement arenas is extensive. After he relocated to Kilinochchi, where he maintained a residence, Ravishankar received a Tiger medal for long service from Prabhakaran, the terrorist leader. According to testimony, Ravishankar treasured the medal and prominently displayed it to inspire other Sea Tigers serving in the maritime fleet.
Most of the crew that staffed the LTTE ships destroyed in the 2000s had served under Ravishankar. The Sri Lanka Navy had destroyed 10 out of 14 ships since 2003: MV Koi on March 10, 2003, MV Koimer on June 14, 2003, an unidentified vessel on September 17, 2006, MV Kiyoi on February 28, 2007, MV Seiyoo on March 18, 2007, an unidentified vessel on March 18, 2007, MV Manyoshi on September 10, 2007, MV Scishin on September 10, 2007, MV Koshiya on September 11, 2007 and MV Matsushima on October 7, 2007. Another vessel, MV Princess Easwary in the Philippines was used by Shanmugasundaram Kanthaskaran and Ravishankar to transport both LTTE leaders, members and some passengers from Southeast Asia to Canada.
Kanthaskaran who was both a Black Sea Tiger and a procurement officer, together with Ravishankar organized MV Princess Easwary. They assigned Captain Kamalraj Kandasamy familiar with the North Korean arms route to transport 76 LTTE cadres and passengers to Canada. Having transported tens of thousands of tons of illicit arms, ammunition and explosives from North Korea to Sri Lanka from 1997 to 2008, Kandasamy communicated numerous times with both Kanthaskaran and Ravishankar . Before MV Princess Easwary reached Canada on October 17, 2009, LTTE Captain Kamalraj Kandasamy changed its name to MV Ocean Lady.
Like Kamalraj, there are a dozen LTTE crew and captains living in Canada. Ravishankar, who joined the LTTE in the early 1990s, was trained at a Maritime school in Nova Scotia in Canada. After relocating permanently to Canada in 2005, with the help of a Canadian passport he functioned worldwide as a procurement officer, buying armaments, ships and dual user technologies. Law enforcement authorities in Sri Lanka will request Canada to extradite Ravishankar who was convicted of all three charges filed against him. He was found guilty of transporting lethal cargo including missiles and other weapons by ship to the LTTE on three occasions, namely in 1996, 1997 and 1999. Investigations have revealed that the first of these arms shipments was smuggled in from North Korea. All three ships had anchored off the island’s northern and eastern coasts and unloaded their cargo of weapons and ammunition.
Ravishankar was sentenced to a period of ten years rigorous imprisonment for each of the three weapons smuggling charges. In addition to being placed on INTERPOL’s wanted listed, Ravishankar is also listed for aiding and abetting terrorist activities under United Nations SC Resolution 1373.
The Sri Lankan government will work with Interpol and the Commonwealth Secretariat to coordinate with Canadian law enforcement authorities to seek Ravishankar’s extradition from Canada to serve out his sentence in Sri Lanka. According to the Sri Lanka Police, Ravishankar’s conviction in absentia also sends a clear message to LTTE operatives who have fled overseas, that they will still be punished for their crimes by courts in Sri Lanka. Around 30 other LTTE members have cases being heard against them in court or are due to be charged. Those under investigation are a female Black Tiger who traveled on board the MV Sun Sea to Canada and her husband, also a terrorist, who is in transit in France and planning to join her in Canada.
Although a few LTTE organized ships such as MV Alicia in Indonesia were disrupted by governments working together, human smuggling was so lucrative that the LTTE ventures continued. Many LTTE smugglers notably Wimalraj in Indonesia courted both LTTE and non LTTE passengers. Although many have been arrested in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka, others continued as it paid them lavishly. Moreover, the evidence required to prosecute the human smugglers was lacking since they had to be caught in the act. As the Canadian, British, French, Australian, Indonesian and other governments took time to investigate and arrest the LTTE masterminds behind the smuggling venture they organized another ship. As the Canadian authorities did not take the threat seriously, the LTTE organized MV Sun Sea and transported 497 passengers to Canada on August 13, 2010. The profits made by the directing figures amounted to a few million dollars and was used by the LTTE to reorganize itself overseas. Meanwhile while some of the funds were traced to the LTTE in Canada, the others went to LTTE HQ in Norway.
National Post investigative reporter Stewart Bell wrote an article titled: “Police discover Sun Sea’s link to Norway” on June 6, 2011 stating, “Bangkok-based human smugglers who have so far sent two shiploads of illegal migrants to Canada have been called ‘sophisticated’ and ‘well organized’. But nobody ever said they were perfect. Before the last ship, the MV Sun Sea, left Thailand in July carrying almost 500 Sri Lankan migrants, the smugglers made the passengers sign contracts that spelled out how much each owed for the journey to Canada. The contracts were then mailed to Norway, ostensibly for safekeeping.
They were, after all, valuable receipts and proof of millions worth of uncollected debts, not to mention highly sensitive. The problem was, they were mailed to the wrong address. According to newly released details of the case, the contracts — in which Sun Sea passengers pledged to pay the smugglers between $5,000 and $30,000 upon reaching Canada — were mislabelled and delivered to the wrong person. The recipient handed them to the Norwegian police, who passed them on to their Canadian counterparts. The gaffe has given Canadian officials a unique insight into the smugglers’ system of payment, which involved an up-front deposit of about $5,000 and a hefty debt that was to be paid off after arrival in Canada. It has also linked the smuggling operation to Norway”.
When LTTE ships from Southeast Asia to Canada came under international scrutiny, the human smugglers started to use ships through Africa. In October 2011, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service informed their Ghanaian counterparts of a venture that authorities had disrupted – MV Ruvuma, a fishing vessel that once sailed in Somali waters had been preparing to depart on a 7,500 km voyage to Canada. The 209 passengers, Sri Lankan Tamils in Togo, Benin, and other neighbouring West African countries, had flown through Ethiopia and India. They had paid between SL Rs 1.2 and 1.5 million to the human smugglers/ terrorists.
In May, 2012, another Sri Lankan smuggling ring was busted in West Africa while they were preparing for a voyage to Canada from West Africa. Six smugglers fled to Burkina Faso, but were arrested and 12 smugglers were arrested in Ghana and a 20,000 ton, 30-metre long vessel belonging to the smuggling syndicate was also seized. In June, 2012, another 148 Sri Lankan migrants were arrested in Benin having paid a smuggling syndicate to be brought to Canada. Like the LTTE terrorist/criminals of MV Ocean Lady, these passengers too were threatened with harm unless they paid ahead and many did pay.
In a speech in January 2013, during a visit to Sri Lanka, the then Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney warned “human smuggling is very dangerous” and ultimately “won’t get you to Canada”. He also cited four instances in which Thai authorities intercepted human smuggling operations destined for Canada. Indonesia, he said, stopped another ship in July 2011. He noted a Sri Lankan syndicate was broken up in May 2012 while returning from a voyage to Canada and that 148 Sri Lankan migrants were arrested in Benin in June 2012.
Another 100 were arrested in Thailand in August 2012 he said. Kenny added: “We estimate that, over the past four years, thousands of Sri Lankan migrants have made initial payments of up to 1.5 million Sri Lankan rupees to smuggling syndicates, most of that as down payments, only to lose their money and face misery, threats, detention and deportation”.
Although the human smuggling operations by western-based LTTE leaders have been affected by law enforcement and intelligence cooperation, the Southeast Asian and Indian based LTTE leaders continue with their smuggling ventures. The disruption of LTTE human smuggling operations in Africa resulted in them being shifted to India, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. They used fishing trawlers which are difficult to detect but presented a huge risk to passengers. While big ships moved passengers to North America and Europe, trawlers moved passengers to Australia.
Investigations conducted by the Australian Federal Police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Force as well as their intelligence counterparts revealed that the movement of asylum seekers is a human smuggling racket. For greener pastures those travelling overseas include both Tamils and Sinhalese and the human smugglers called ‘agents doing agency work’ include both Tamils and Sinhalese. However even after the end of the conflict in Sri Lanka, the LTTE fronts fearing deportation of their rank and file from host countries attempt to portray an unreal situation.
“We need to put a complete stop to these voyages by putting an end to the persecution against Tamils in Sri Lanka,” said Canadian Tamil Congress National Spokesperson David Poopalapillai in an interview with the National Post on August 11, 2010.
In an article in the Star in Toronto on August 10, 2010, Raveena Aulakh reported: “When the Ocean Lady landed, there were fears some migrants were Tigers. But community leaders point out that the 76 men had been investigated and “it’s been proved they have no ties to terrorists,” said Periathamby Casinadhan, who volunteers with the Canadian Tamil Congress”.
“They don’t want to be a burden on Canadians. They are learning English and as they get their work permits, we are helping them find work,” said Poopalapillai, adding, “That sounds fair to me.” However the truth is far from the narrative developed by the terrorist fronts. Investigative agencies and intelligence services have identified the crew, leaders, and members of the LTTE, engaged in renewing global security interests of the LTTE.
When Kartheepan Manickavasagar, 26, one of the 76 migrants on MV Ocean Lady entered Canadian waters on October 17, 2009 he was on an INTERPOL red notice. According to Father Anthony Pillai of St Patrick’s church in Malaysia, Kartheepan was Father Tony Jeyraj’s handler at the time the latter was arrested at the Bandaranaike International Airport on September 5, 2008 for transporting dual user technologies from Singapore to Sri Lanka. Kartheepan had assigned Father Jeyraj to transport 40 GPS devices, 30 Motorola units and 30 antennas from Singapore to Sri Lanka. But Canadian lawyer Hadayt Nazami said Kartheepan has no links to the LTTE, and Canadian Tamil Congress’ David Poopalapillai said on October 22, 2009, that the charges should be treated with caution since Sri Lanka has a history of falsely accusing ethnic Tamils of terrorism.
Further investigations however revealed Kartheepan was an operative of Pottu Amman, the LTTE intelligence leader who was engaged in assassinations, bombings and massacres. Six days after Father Jeyraj was arrested, Kartheepan fled Sri Lanka. The Magistrate Court in Negombo issued a warrant for his arrest on September 19, 2008, for violating the country’s emergency and telecommunications regulations.
Investigations reveal that Poopalapillai who attempted to exonerate Kartheepan was previously in custody in a maximum security detention centre in Boosa, Sri Lanka. Furthermore, the Canadian Tamil Congress represented by Poopalapillai was designated in March 2014 as a terrorist front.
Canada is hosting a robust bogus asylum and human smuggling industry with organizers, financiers, forgers, translators, clerks, lawyers, and others defending and supporting the human smuggling enterprise. As the LTTE remnant leaders are determined to relocate their key leaders and members to the West, the human smuggling pipeline is hot!
The Canadian Tamil Congress provided legal and financial aid to the LTTE crew on ships engaged in human smuggling as well as the passengers aboard those ships. They were projected as bona fide refugees, not terrorists. As key LTTE cadres and their families arrived in Vancouver, David Poopalapillai with his team flew to Vancouver to defend the LTTE infiltrators and to counter Canadian efforts to develop tough legislation. Gary Anandasangaree of CTC not only provided legal counsel but resisted the tough Anti-smuggling Bill which Canada passed. It is very likely that CTC will fight the LTTE’s top terrorist Kanagarajah Ravishankar’s extradition to Sri Lanka, as well.