LTTE-underworld deadly alliance bared

Tiger gun-runner reveals plans to recruit criminal gangs for acts of sabotage

By Asif Fuard

A long-term plan by the LTTE to infiltrate the underworld by selling arms to criminal elements and getting the underworld involved in its activities has been uncovered, following the arrest of an LTTE intelligence wing member and nine others, Deputy Inspector General D. W Prathapasinghe told The Sunday Times.
He said LTTE intelligence operative Rajendra Mahesh Sinniah and nine Gampaha underworld gangsters who had purchased weapons from him were being interrogated to extract further details.

DIG Prathapasinghe said state intelligence agencies had been alerted to the LTTE’s plan and police had been directed to keep track of the underworld gang members linked to the LTTE.

The T-56 rifles which were hidden underwater and located by police divers. Pic by Athula Devapriya

“We have deployed a special team to track down other LTTE gunrunners in the Gampaha area. But we now have reason to believe that these gunrunners who are believed to be from the LTTE intelligence wing have fled the Gampaha area in the wake of the arrests,” the DIG said.

“Preliminary investigations have indicated that the LTTE had also been involved in several car thefts,” he said.

Senior Superintendent Shantha Rajapakse who is leading investigations said the main objective of the LTTE was to dominate the underworld in the south and use them to carry out the LTTE’s agenda while giving the impression that all attacks were not carried out by the LTTE.

The SSP said the LTTE had plans to get the assistance of the underworld to cause chaos in the country. He said the plan involved robberies and political assassinations, leading to a general breakdown of the law and order situation and the crippling of the economy.

The SSP said Sinniah who was arrested in Gampaha had been operating in Colombo and suburbs for nearly one and a half years and travelled to Kilinochchi once a month to update his superiors on the progress he was making. He also confessed that he sold weapons to well-known underworld gangs and obtained their assistance to rob vehicles and deliver them to the LTTE in the north and the east.

According to the SSP, Sinniah had taken several underworld gangsters from Colombo, Moneragala, Hambantota and Bandarawela to Kilinochchi for weapons training at LTTE camps. He had sold them weapons such as T-56 rifles, 9-mm hand guns, micro-pistols and even hand grenades.

The suspect has said the weapon that had a big demand was the T-56 rifle which fetched a price of Rs. 80,000.

Before joining the LTTE intelligence wing Sinniah had been a long standing member of the LTTE military section and was initially trained at the Kullathur training camp in Tamil Nadu, according to SSP Rajapakse.

Sinniah had told police that he resided at Piliyandala and ran a wholesale condiment business as a cover for his secret activities.

The story of how Sinniah was captured began with police receiving information about a Gampaha criminal gang buying arms from Sinniah. Later, detectives managed to get the contact number of Sinniah.

SSP Rajapakse said:
“We were pretending to be members of an underworld gang and contacted Sinniah on his mobile phone. We told him we wanted to buy five T-56 assault rifles. Sinniah quoted a figure of Rs.400,000.

“Within three days of placing the order Sinniah agreed to meet us personally and he asked us to come with the money to a Seeduwa Buddhist Temple, one of the usual haunts where he carried out his transactions.

“Five teams of detectives disguised as underworld gangsters were deployed for the operation to nab him with other officers in unmarked vehicles giving them security cover. As planned the detectives closed in on the temple premises.

“When Sinniah met our decoys, he displayed a T-56 assault rifle and a magazine with thirty rounds of live ammunition. In the process of finalising the deal, the policemen in disguise moved in and arrested him.”

After his arrest, Sinniah led the police to the place where he had hidden his weapons. The weapons, hidden twenty feet underwater in the Dandugama canal in Seeduwa, were later recovered by the Gampha police diving team.

Sinniah revealed the names of Gampaha underworld king-pins who were helping him and the police arrested nine of them.

The first to be arrested was a suspect from Galgamuwa who possessed two T-56 rifles and two magazines with 57 rounds of live ammunition. Six suspects are from Thambuththegamuwa, Nochchiyagama, Rajangana, Dehiwala, Minneriya and Kekirawa and all of them had in their possession T-56 rifles or hand guns.

Two more suspects from Raddoluwa and Delgoda were arrested for helping Sinniah in his arms business.

The SSP believes that Sinniah may not be the only LTTE operative selling arms to the underworld.

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