By 20 June 2008 3 Comments

Italian Dragnet Arrests 28 for Financing Tamil Separatists -By Steve Scherer

Italian police arrested 28 Sri Lankan nationals in 10 different cities for conspiring to commit terrorist acts, accusing them of raising funds to send home to the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. “They had formed an organization that was arranging financial support by collecting a tax, or an extortion payment, from Sri Lankan nationals living here,” said Palermoprosecutor Antonio Ingroia in a telephone interview. The operation was led by the anti-terrorist police unit in Naples, Ingroia said. The communities of Sri Lankans living in Italywere pressured to contribute money to the LTTE cause, and then the funds were funneled out of Italythrough Swiss banks, Ingroia said. “Then we sort of lost track of the money trail,” he said. Investigators are still trying to determine if they can also charge the collectors for extortion, he said. The LTTE has been fighting for 25 years for a separate Tamil homeland in the island’s east and north in a conflict that has killed more than 70,000 people. The Tamil Tigers hold bases only in the north after losing control of the EasternProvincealmost a year ago. Twenty-five Tamil rebels and seven soldiers were killed during gun battles yesterday and early today in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province, the Media Centre for National Security said. Two days ago, a suicide bomber attacked a police station in northern Sri Lanka, killing 12 officers and injuring 23 people including a school girl. President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government blamed the LTTE for the attack. Shop Owners, House Cleaners Rajapaksa has vowed to eradicate terrorism on the island while seeking a settlement with all Tamil groups. He ended a 2002 cease-fire with the LTTE in January, prompting the United Nations to call on the government and the Tamil Tigers to prevent an escalation of violence against civilians.

Tamils make up 11.9 percent of Sri Lanka’s 20 million people and Sinhalese almost 74 percent, according to a 2001 census. The LTTE is listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S., Canada, Indiaand the European Union. Today’s arrests were made in the Italian cities of Naples, Genoa, Milan, Biella, Novara, Mantua, Reggio Emilia, Bologna, Romeand Palermo. In Palermothere is a community of about 2,000 Sri Lankans, said the head of the city’s anti-terrorism unit, Maurizio Ficarra, in a telephone interview. The Palermocourt issued 8 arrest warrants. Five of the accused were picked up by police in Palermoearly today, while Napleslaw enforcement officials grabbed the other three, Ficarra said.

The Sri Lankans living in Palermo “are mostly either shop owners or house cleaners,” Ficarra said. The accused terrorist financiers “even held social events to promote their cause and raise funds,” Ficarra said. “Everyone was asked to pay a monthly fee, and they even received a receipt for payment.”

3 Comments on "Italian Dragnet Arrests 28 for Financing Tamil Separatists -By Steve Scherer"

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  1. Tahnks for posting

  2. Changlee says:

    The Refugee Tamils living in Abroad are never going to settle down in their back home. Because, they changed their life style. They will like to visit for a vaccation, week or 2. They dont think about the Innocent Wanni People living under the Tigers threat.

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