By Colombo Telegraph –
“Muslims are increasingly worked up about the apparent surge in LTTE influence. In a meeting with a group of Muslims at Southeastern University, the team was told that Muslims felt that the LTTE was slowly but surely working to take over the Eastern Province. M.L.A. Cader, the vice-chancellor of the university, was adamant that eastern Muslims had to take steps to ensure that the government in Colombo heard their concerns. Muslims felt they were being ‘abandoned’ and ‘sold out’ by a government eager to make peace at any price with the LTTE. Cader bitterly criticized Rauf Hakeem, the head of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), asserting that Hakeem did not care about eastern Muslims and was only interested in maintaining his ministerial position in the government.” the US Embassy Colombo informed Washington.
The Colombo Telegraph found the related leaked cable from the WikiLeaks database. The cable discusses the situation in the Eastern province under the ceasefire agreement. The “Confidential” cable written on November 14, 2002 and signed by the US Ambassador to Colombo E. Ashley Wills.
The ambassador wrote; “On the human rights side, Cader admitted that “LTTE pressure” on Muslims was a bit less of late. Cader thought that this was clearly a tactic on the LTTE’s part meant to quiet critics, while the group continued its efforts to isolate Muslims and marginalize the security forces. In response to Cader’s concerns, the U.S. team underscored strong support for the peace process, stressing that the U.S. urged all sides to work together and exercise restraint.”
We give below the relevant part of the cable;
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 COLOMBO 002133 SIPDIS DEPARTMENT FOR SA, SA/INS, S/CT; NSC FOR H. THOMAS; LONDON FOR POL/RIEDEL E.O. 12958: DECL: 11-14-12 TAGS: PGOV PTER PHUM MOPS ECON SOCI CE LTTE SUBJECT: Tigers gradually expand network of control in the east, as security forces watch and Muslims fret Refs: (A) Colombo 2101 - (B) Colombo 1180, and previous (U) Classified by Ambassador E. Ashley Wills. Reasons 1.5 (b, d).
================= Deep Muslim Anger ================= ¶10. (C) (((Note: The U.S. team repeatedly asked interlocutors about continuing reports of Muslim extremism in the east. Most observers had little clear- cut information about the matter and Muslim interlocutors denied it was a factor. Nonetheless, the team did notice many new mosques under construction and various "Islamic foundation" offices operating in Muslim towns. It is hard to see how eastern Muslims could afford to pay for the construction of all the new mosques, so it would seem possible that Middle Eastern money is coming in, as some claim. When queried, Sri Lankan security forces replied that they had not seen any Arabs or Pakistanis visiting the region. GSL officials added that they just were not sure what was going on in Muslim areas, however. They had heard of small extremist groups with names like "Jihad" and "Osama" operating in the east, but did not think they were much of a threat to the peace. Pro-LTTE Tamils that the team met with repeatedly claimed that Muslims were radicalized, and armed and dangerous. One pro-LTTE figure, V. Kamaladas, the head of a local NGO Forum for the east, basically indicated that the U.S. and the LTTE should join together to defeat the Muslims! End Note.)))