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Monday, January 2, 2012

The Tamil Tigers

Humans have the capacity for great good and also for great evil. We have seen that unshakeable beliefs can lead a person to perpetrate acts that to another person are unquestionably evil. But to them, the act is good and righteous. How can this possibly happen?

War, subjugation, conquest, and genocide has happened in the past. So, in a practical sense, there are plenty of motives for the wronged people of the earth to plot revenge. But when a group has been defeated, wronged, or subjugated, and they don't have the resources of their more powerful (and victorious) enemy, this generally leads to asymmetric warfare.

Asymmetric warfare has been around forever. But asymmetric warfare has never advanced so fast as it has in Sri Lanka under the guidance of the terrorist organization the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam), or Tamil Tigers. They were the Einsteins of terror, and carried out the most ruthless campaign of suicide attacks in the 20th century. For them, the greater the sacrifice, the higher the honor.

Now, I do believe that the oppression of the Tamil minority was bad. Subjugation and oppression always is. But when the ethnic Tamil minority began to be organized by LTTE founder-leader V. Prabakharan, a master organizer, and started using terrorist tactics under the LTTE banner, my sympathy waned.

The LTTE carried out a pattern of aggression against the controlling Sinhalese majority of Sri Lanka in order to secure a Tamil homeland. This aggression eventually led to attacks not only on the Sri Lankan government and infrastructure, but also to the Indian government, who reportedly trained them between 1983 and 1987 (as well as 5 other Tamil insurgency groups), but subsequently had to stop supporting them. The advances by the LTTE in the techniques of terror are many.

For instance, on May 21, 1991, India's Prime Minister Rajiv Ghandi, was assassinated during his reelection campaign by a female member of the LTTE who posed as a well-wisher carrying a basket of flowers. The explosive device was carried under her robes and it was hidden effectively by making her appear to be pregnant. She knelt before him before blowing herself up. This was the first recorded instance of a female suicide bomber. About a third of the suicide attacks by the LTTE have been carried out by women. This is thought to be because in the conservative Indian society there is reluctance to properly search a woman. Male and female children as young as 10 years old have been known to carry out attacks for the LTTE as well.

Another example: on July 12, 1990, the LTTE used a boat bomb against an Indian naval vessel in the port of Trincomalee. This was the first recorded instance of a boat bomb being used against a naval vessel, more than 10 years before the attack on the USS Cole.

Yet another: in July 1983, the mass exodus of civilians back into India after ethnic riots in Sri Lanka forced the LTTE to recruit children. At one point 60% of their fighting force consisted of male and female children between the ages of 10-16: the Baby Brigades. The units were trained rigorously from 0500 hours with two hours of physical conditioning, followed by weapons training, battle and field craft. Their afternoons were filled with the reading of LTTE literature and more physical training. Their food was controlled to support the conditioning process. They attended lectures on munitions, explosives, and intelligence techniques into the evening. By 1990, they were being used in combat against Indian troops. But first, they were battle tested by using weakly-protected border towns where the Baby Brigades were sent in with automatic weapons to slaughter several hundred people, led on "inoculation brigades" by experienced fighters. This technique is used today by african islamic militias, although perhaps not with as many females.

There is evidence of 200+ suicide bombings by the LTTE. There is also evidence that, as the Sri Lankan civil war against the LTTE in 2009 was being fought, that suicide bombings against civilian targets continued.

There is evidence that both sides in the Sri Lankan Civil War of 2009 committed unspeakable atrocities. In the end, the LTTE were defeated and the most advanced and "creative" terror group was finally stopped.

Why commit acts of terror? Because they have historically been shown to pay off. The attacks in Beirut in October 1983 were two simultaneous truck bombs against the barracks of the US and French peacekeeping forces. This attack resulted in the withdrawal of US and French troops from Lebanon and is often cited by Al Qaeda and other groups as direct evidence that suicide attacks are extremely effective against the west.

The causes for acts of terror are not going to just magically vanish tomorrow if we act nice. Even if we address the root causes of the retribution sought, there will always be extremists. Part of the escalation in terrorist acts comes from the tremendous press that each terrorist act attracts. Each one is a springboard for the next act.

Nowadays the techniques for terror are distributed in documents like The Encyclopedia of Jihad on the internet. With online resources and social media, it's hard to put the genie back into the bottle.


  1. But who finances this?

    Let's not be so naive about the way the world really works. The terrorists are just pawns in a financial chessboard, playing their role as designed by the money masters.

    1. As I indicated in the post, initially they were financed by India. But there are lots of Tamil that would love to have a homeland, and the Sri Lankan government was against that at all costs. Unfortunately, such financing often masquerades as charity organizations.

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