By Dharisha Bastians
The country’s counter-terrorism authorities have officially informed a court in Kilinochchi that Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Legislator M.A. Sumanthiran was the suspected target of an assassination attempt on 13 January 2017.
Filing a report in the Kilinochchi Magistrate Court yesterday, the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) said it was investigating five suspects currently in police custody about a suspected plot to kill the TNA Jaffna District Parliamentarian earlier this month.
So far, the TID reports to court only indicated that the suspects in custody had been targetting the assassination of a politician. Yesterday’s B report (B 85/2017) filed in the Kilinochchi Magistrate Court explicitly mentions Sumanthiran as a suspected target.
The attempts on the MP’s life were reportedly planned when he was visiting his constituency in the Northern Province. General Secretary of ITAK, the main constituent party in the TNA, K. Thurairajasingham said he had met with IGP Pujith Jayasundera in Colombo yesterday, to explain the situation with regard to the threat against MP Sumanthiran. “I asked the IGP to give him proper security,” Thurairajasingam told Daily FT.
Parliamentarian Dharmalingam Sithdharthan who leads the TNA constituent party PLOTE, condemned the assassination attempt and warned that the killing of a Tamil politician at this juncture would take Sri Lanka back to the darkest years of the war.
“The war is over now and we must ensure that political opinion is countered only by political opinion. Violence will never help the Tamil community and the country at large,” Sithdharthan, told Daily FT.
He urged authorities to conduct a thorough investigation that will go to the “root” of the assassination attempt. “It should not just be about arresting the four or five boys. The investigation must go deeper to find out who is really behind it,” Sithdharthan reiterated.
Media reports over the weekend said that the would-be assassins, now in police custody, had been planning a claymore mine explosion targeting Sumanthiran’s vehicle on the Soranpatru-Thaalayadi road to Maruthankerni in the Jaffna District on 13 January.
On 14 January, one day after the assassination plot was foiled reportedly because Sumanthiran changed his travel plans at the last minute, TID arrested ex-LTTE cadres Gnanasekaralingam Rajmathan from Trincomalee, Louis Mariampillai Ajanthan from Mathurankerni, Jaffna and Karalasingam Kulendran and Murugaiah Thavendran from Kilinochchi, once the LTTE stronghold and de facto capital. A claymore mine, detonators and large stocks of Kerala marijuana were found in the ex-cadres homes, the TID informed the Kilinochchi magistrate on 20 January.
On Monday (30) TID informed court that it had arrested one more suspect in the assassination plot from Mannar, Velayanthan Vijayan, following interrogation of the four original suspects.
Daily FT reliably learns that TID investigations into the assassination plot have revealed the four ex-cadres first arrested had been contracted by pro-LTTE operatives working overseas.
A security analyst who spoke to Daily FT on grounds of confidentiality, said overseas pro-LTTE networks remained active and well-funded. Lacking livelihood support, disillusioned and finding social reintegration difficult, ex-LTTE cadres living in the Northern Province remain highly vulnerable to persuasion by these networks overseas to carry out contracts in exchange for money, the analyst explained.
The security expert also noted the presence of stocks of Kerala marijuana the TID claimed it had found in the possession of ex-cadres arrested in connection with the assassination plot. Drug trafficking operations would be difficult in the heavily garrisoned Northern Province without collusion from sections of the armed forces, the analyst explained. The assassination plot the TID had uncovered raised several questions, the security expert noted, since many rehabilitated ex-LTTE cadres had been compelled to become informants for state intelligence units following release.
When a suicide jacket, a stock of explosives and ammunition were recovered in Chavakachcheri in the Jaffna District in March 2016, police investigations revealed that three ex-LTTE cadres arrested in that case were partially rehabilitated military informants. The trio was working with military intelligence at the time of their arrest, a Police Spokesman said at the time.