23 October, 2020

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Tamil Canadian Facing U.S. Terrorism Charges Pleads Guilty To Aiding Tamil Tigers

A Canadian engineering graduate from Waterloo, Ont., pleaded guilty in New York Tuesday to being part of a terrorist procurement cell securing sophisticated military technology for the Tamil Tigers, including submarine and warship design software, and laundering money,the National Post Canada reports.

Suresh Sriskandarajah, 32, known by the nickname Waterloo Suresh, used students as couriers to smuggle prohibited items into Tiger-controlled territory in Sri Lanka.

Between September, 2004, and April, 2006, he and several co-conspirators helped a Tiger procurement officer research and acquire aviation equipment, submarine and warship design software, night vision equipment and communications technology, prosecutors said.

On Tuesday afternoon, in a near-empty courtroom in Brooklyn, Sriskandarajah admitted he provided support to the Tigers knowing it was designated as a terrorist group, saying he met his co-accuseds while visiting Sri Lanka.

Sriskandarajah could face up to 15 years in prison but likely will be sentenced to far less, perhaps even to the time he has already served in custody pending trial after his arrest in Toronto in 2006.

Although born in Sri Lanka, Sriskandarajah is a Canadian citizen and will be deported to Canada at the completion of his sentence.

“The defendant helped the LTTE, an organization that pioneered terrorist tactics and has killed numerous civilians in brutal terrorist attacks, obtain sophisticated military technology and equipment,” said United States Attorney Loretta Lynch after the plea.

“Claiming to fight for freedom, the LTTE instead created a climate of fear and bloodshed, systematically assassinating those who stood in the way of their terrorist goals.”

Despite the harsh words from the prosecution, Sriskandarajah was not seen as a typical, or unreformable, terrorist.

Articulate and bright, having earned three university degrees and learned three languages, he was president of the University of Waterloo Tamil Students Association. He was entrepreneurial and built websites for corporations and charities.

He said he became active in the Tamil struggle after traveling back to Sri Lanka after the 2004 tsunami.

Sriskandarajah was one of six Toronto-area men arrested in 2006, accused in a joint FBI-RCMP probe of providing weapons and equipment to the Sri Lankan rebels, officially called the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. (The LTTE was designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. in 1997 and by Canada in 2006.)

Sriskandarajah was extradited to New York in December after a six-year legal battle in Canada that went to the Supreme Court.

“This is not what I’m supposed to be doing,” he told the National Post in 2010.

“I don’t want to waste my life in custody. I just want to forget about this and move on and become a productive member rather than wasting time in jail. I just want to see this resolved and move forward in life and contribute back to society.”

That he made for an unusual terrorist was even noted by the U.S. federal judge hearing his case.

In February, Judge Raymond Dearie refused him bail “with some reluctance.”

“The seriousness of the charges cannot be overstated,” Judge Dearie wrote; the evidence against him — given the conviction of six others, three of them Canadian, in related trials — is likely “more than ample,” he wrote.

Still, he was tempted to grant release citing the “many supportive letters” on his behalf, the fact he was on bail in Canada while fighting extradition, and even had a letter from the government of Sri Lanka urging authorities to abandon his prosecution because of “his publicly recognized efforts to secure a lasting, peaceful reconciliation for the Tamil people.”

The letter was unexpected, as Judge Dearie noted: “Given the history of Sri Lanka’s prolonged and bitter conflict,” the request was “an extraordinary initiative that evidences Suresh’s legitimate and admirable work.”

Even Judge Dearie’s reference to him by his first name only suggests an atypical reaction of the U.S. court system towards a terrorist.

The Sri Lankan civil war ended in 2009 with the defeat of the Tigers.

Another Canadian, Piratheepan Nadarajah, 36, still faces terrorism charges in the U.S. for his alleged role in a related plot to buy $1-million worth of AK47 assault rifles and surface-to-air missiles for the Tamil Tigers.

National Post

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Latest comments

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    I thought US is aiding & abetting Tigers not prosecuting them.

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    This is selective punishment. May be the Diaspora was able to deal with the Judge out of court… COZ there are MANY such productive people languishing in US jails… Why aren’t they given a second chance? I wonder IF the letter sent by the govt of SL, is a fake document and if the Govt was actually aware of such a letter being issued, for Canada is known to accept Fake Id’s, BC’s and even Passports from people who file bogus Asylum cases, stating that they had to use such docs to exit SL, so that they may NOT be held while departing SL…. LMAO…. Probably the Canadians want people to live in the cold climates, so that their system does not come to a standstill in Winter…

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    He admitted to supporting a BANNED terrorist group… How about the innocent people langushing in Guantanamo Bay? They are NOT even given the chance to be heard in a court. Suresh is NOT A SUSPECTED TERRORIST. ” He accepts he supported a Banned terror outfit”, while the ones in Guantanamo Bay are not even given a hearing and locked up without a charge being filed.. Is this NOT double standards? and why?

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      You are absolutely right. In US we have a legal system not a justice system.

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    Now what will LTTE supporters say

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    The biggest perpetrator of providing succor to the LTTE is the US itself. Now having helped MR to eliminate LTTE by duping VP, the Americans are trying to mop up these individuals just to show their Bonhomie fearing they will regroup. Here again the Americans adopt double standards where the head of LTTE arms procurement, KP is shielded and protected by MR and the Americans shielding and protecting Shavendra Silva who massacred over forty thousand unarmed Tamils who were made to surrender with false assurances given to VP by the Americans and Indians.

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    any way some people are trying to help to the Tigers…we must prevent it..we must get every actions for that because we don’t want a terrorism again…we were suffering during thirty years in past…because of the war..

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    ‘even had a letter from the government of Sri Lanka urging authorities to abandon his prosecution because of “his publicly recognized efforts to secure a lasting, peaceful reconciliation for the Tamil people.”’

    So j.muthu, no comment on the ‘singala, budhhist, thugs’?

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    Democracy of USA is within its borders only. LTTE is banned in USA and Canada. But what happened to the millions they had?

    This fellow is a bogus refugee. In USA, 15 years jail means “exactly” 15 years without parole! Better place to rot. The people like him wanted more destruction in Sri lanka than any help to the suffereing Tamil people.

    LTTE invested millions in Colombo on Condos and other properties and businesses. So, LTTE was not fighting for a separate state but to swindle money from Tamil people only. UNP was helping LTTE in a big way.

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    What a waste of young talent and skill that could have been better utilized to serve the humanity? The so called “Leaders” of this “deadly struggle” must take the primary responsibilty while this young person should have had an atom of brain to think of his future and plan his life path to serve the country that gave him his education. I don’t think that these types of people can be called “educated”. The people who “brain-wash” these young persons do not realize that they are the worst enemies of the human beings who commit the worst crime against humanity.

    Let this be an eye openner to all the young people in every country. Be your own and seek your own freedom.

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    it’s no crime at all. i don’t know what these americans are talking about. instead of worrying about the poor guy they should concentrate on war crimes. war criminals mahinda, gothabhaya, fonseka and all other black monkey army should be sent to the hague to stand trial.

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