LTTE's top fund manager nabbed in Bangkok
One of Sri Lanka's most wanted militants, Kumaran Padmanadan, who ran the global procurement network of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), has been arrested in Thailand, military officials in Colombo said.
Thai police informed Colombo that Padmanadan, alias KP who is listed 'most wanted militant' by Interpol, was arrested in Bangkok Monday evening, military spokesperson Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe told IANS.
Padmanadan, number three on Interpol list of most wanted Sri Lankan militants after Tamil Tiger chief Vellupillai Prabhakaran and intelligence head Pottu Amman, had apparently obtained Thai citizenship and continued to run the global network of LTTE offices and its weapons procurement, logistics and money laundering operations.
Colombo has already requested Thai Interpol for permission to interrogate Padmanadan, who is wanted in Colombo for several crimes including murder, funding terrorism, money laundering and arms smuggling.
Defence magazine, Jane's Defence Intelligence Review, recently revealed that the LTTE has two international wings -- KP Department and Aiyanna Group - engaged in global terrorist activities.
According to the magazine, the terrorist outfit fighting for a mono ethnic homeland for Tamils living in Sri Lanka earns $200-300 million per year through their fund raising activities and numerous illegal businesses.
KP department is the oldest international wing of the LTTE, which has been led by Kumaran Padmanadan. Since the outfit's activities expanded beyond the capacity of the KP Department, the Aiyanna group was formed under the leadership of Aiyanna, who is also a senior LTTE cadre.
At present, the KP Department acts as the procurement arm while the Aiyanna Group looks after fundraising and intelligence operations for the outfit, Jane's Review said.
Padmanadan, who left Sri Lanka immediately after 1983 communal clashes, set up a shipping company in Malaysia in late 1987 under instructions of LTTE supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran. By 1995, he acquired six ships for the LTTE.
Thai police said he is a noted smuggler of arms and narcotics. Operating with bank accounts opened in London, Frankfurt, Denmark, Athens and Australia, KP engaged in many illegal activities using Yangon in Myanmar and Singapore and recently Johannesburg as his secured bases.
He is said to be in possession of several passports under different names.
According to defence sources, investigations will focus on probing the Tamil Tigers' international network of links, LTTE procedures, money laundering and the underworld dealers who supply arms and narcotics.
Analysts believe that the arrest of KP is the biggest blow to the LTTE since defection of Col Karuna Ammana, the former eastern military commander.
The arrest follows the detention of three LTTE operatives in Ranong province in Thailand last month who were trying to buy guns and 45,000 rounds of ammunition. They were suspected of running a gunrunning racket centred in Thailand.
Padmanadan, who also had a number of aliases, has recently been the subject of a manhunt that stretched to Johannesburg, Yangon, Singapore and Bangkok.
"While Cambodia is the hub of the LTTE East Asia Network, Thailand continues to serve as the most important country for trans-shipment of munitions and coordination of logistics... its excellent communications infrastructure, proximity to former war zones in both Cambodia and [Burma] and its western coastline facing the Bay of Bengal and Sri Lanka beyond have made Thailand the ancient interface between the LTTE's war zone," Jane's Defence Review reported.