16 November, 2018

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WikiLeaks: Muslim Militancy In Sri Lanka – Four Groups Based In Colombo – Former US Intelligence Officer

By Colombo Telegraph

“(C/NF) Source reported there are four primary Muslim groups based in Colombo: Sri Lanka Jamthi Islam, Thauhid Jamath, Thableeq Jamath, and Jamathi Muslim.” the US Embassy Colombo informed Washington.

The Colombo Telegraph found the related leaked cable from the WikiLeaks database. The cable discusses Muslim militancy in Sri Lanka. The cable is classified as “CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN” and written on June 09, 2004. The cable is signed by the US Ambassador to Colombo Jeffrey J. Lunstead.

The ambassador wrote; “(C/NF) On 6/01/04, RSO and RSO/FSNI interviewed former Directorate of Internal Intelligence (DII) desk officer M.I. CADER (Source) at Embassy Colombo (cell phone 0777-598768, email -iqbalcader@yahoo.co.in). Source was a former police academy classmate of the RSO/FSNI, is recently retired and now working in the private sector. As a desk officer in DII, Source’s last assignment was with a Muslim domestic intelligence unit. Recently, RSO and FSNI facilitated Source finding employment in the private sector, therefore the relationship could be described as cooperative. Source provided the following uncorroborated information on militant Muslim organizations and activities in Sri Lanka. ”

“Source reported that Muslim groups in eastern Sri Lanka have been visited by Pakistani organizers, and that Muslim youths have attended camps in Sri Lanka with names like Jihad, Ossama, Sadam, etc. These camps teach self-defense, but are not known to train in use of firearms. Source reported that some Sri Lankan Muslims have left Sri Lanka to fight in jihads abroad. Others are sent to Saudi Arabia to work or attend college. One NGO in Sri Lanka that helps fund these activities is the Saudi-based World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), headed locally by a Sudanese national named Omar Idris DIRAR.” the Ambassador further wrote.

“Source suggested that the primary reason for Muslim militancy in Sri Lanka is to defend Muslims against Tamil (LTTE) aggression in the east. Source outlined that the Sri Lankan Muslim Congress, a political party that won a total of 6 seats in the April Parliamentary elections, is supported by the loosely organized Islamic Unity Foundation (IUF). The IUF has about 125 core members and has military, intelligence, religious, and political wings. The political wing leader, Mohamed Ameer ALI, was elected to Parliament in the April elections under the President’s SLMC party. In addition, Source advised the IUF is believed to have weapons obtained from a variety of sources, including a substantial cache bought/seized from deposed LTTE rebel leader Karuna during his recent retreat from the Batticaloa area. Weapons have also reportedly been smuggled in from India. Source believes IUF members have received military training in the Kashmir region of India and may have fought there. Source also suggested this group has a connection to Indian underworld figure Dawood Ibrahim. To date, Source does not believe Muslim militancy is focused on targeting U.S. interests.”

“In the eastern Trincomalee District, Source identified three primary groups organized to defend Muslims against the LTTE in the region: the Knox group (named after a revered Englishman), Ossama group, and Jetty (primarily harbor workers). These groups have the backing of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress. In the eastern Ampara District, Source identified the Mujahadeen group, comprising 150 armed members, as being stronger even than the Ossama group in Trinco.”

“Source indicated that there is a strong connection between the Sri Lankan underworld and Muslim militants. The connection is based on human, drug and weapons smuggling (many Muslims in the east are fishermen). Source estimated the most effective underworld organization is a Colombo-based group in the Maligawatte area. It is believed this group obtained much of the weaponry abandoned by LTTE rebel leader Karuna during his retreat in April and in turn sold automatic rifles, claymore mines and possibly mortars to militant Muslims in the east.”

“Toward the end of the discussion, RSO asked the Source about one newly arrived tenant in the low-rent commercial office space located directly across the street from the U.S. Embassy: the Ministry of Eastern Development and Muslim Religious Affairs, headed by newly elected Muslim Minister ATHULLA. Source explained that one of the primary missions of this Muslim-based Ministry is to support development of Muslims in the east. The Minister has expressed no anti-American sentiment to date, but he is believed to have close ties to the underworld Banda Group, a criminal gang of 50-60 individuals who provide money and protection in the eastern Ampara District. Source indicated the Banda Group has provided protective services to ATHULLA, and has reportedly trained the Ossama group in weapons and tactics.”

Placing a Comment the ambassador wrote; ” The information provided by the Source has not been corroborated or authenticated, but the reality is Post has very little insight into the veiled world of Muslim militancy in eastern Sri Lanka and the information provided is just one part of a vast puzzle that makes up the cultural/political/religious melting pot of Sri Lanka. The convoluted overlapping layers of political alliances, student activists, NGOs, militant groups, and criminal underworld associations described by the Source is a good illustration of the difficulty we have in assessing the militant Muslim threat to American interests in Sri Lanka. One area of present concern is the widespread human smuggling operations connected to the Muslim-dominated underworld that includes extensive production of fraudulent documents, including false U.S. passports and visas. As just one example, RSO is currently working with DS/CR/VF on a Muslim-oriented international human smuggling operation that encompasses Sri Lanka, India, Cyprus, and the U.S. The potential for these operations to facilitate movement of militant Muslims into the U.S. should be of concern. Most observers agree, however, that at present what Muslim militancy exists in Sri Lanka is directed toward defending against Tamil (LTTE) aggression in the east. As Tamil-on-Tamil and Tamil-on-Muslim violence continues in the form of assassinations, extortion, and intimidation, Muslim militancy may escalate. From a national security perspective, the one thing the U.S. has working in its favor is that the LTTE maintains pretty tight control over its territory, and it is unlikely to permit large-scale Muslim militancy to develop in its areas of influence. Any degree of militant Muslim organization in the east would most likely have to take place in the government-controlled cleared areas. Aside from occasional short-lived anti-American disturbances, there is no current indication that U.S. interests are targeted in Sri Lanka. Embassy Colombo continuously monitors this issue, however, and new developments will be reported as they emerge. ”

Related posts;

WikiLeaks: Political Islam In Sri Lanka And The Maldives

WikiLeaks: A Growing Wahhabi Presence In Eastern Province – Muslim Leaders

Read the cable below for further details;

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 COLOMBO 000950 

SIPDIS 

NOFORN 

DS FOR DS/IP/ITA, DS/IP/SA, AND DS/ICI/PII 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/03/2014
TAGS: ASEC CE PTER
SUBJECT: SOURCE REPORT ON MUSLIM MILITANCY IN SRI LANKA 

Classified By: RSO Alex Moore, Reason: 1.4(c) 

¶1. (C/NF) On 6/01/04, RSO and RSO/FSNI interviewed former
Directorate of Internal Intelligence (DII) desk officer M.I.
CADER (Source) at Embassy Colombo (cell phone 0777-598768,
email - iqbalcader@yahoo.co.in).  Source was a former police
academy classmate of the RSO/FSNI, is recently retired and
now working in the private sector.  As a desk officer in DII,
Source's last assignment was with a Muslim domestic
intelligence unit.  Recently, RSO and FSNI facilitated Source
finding employment in the private sector, therefore the
relationship could be described as cooperative.  Source
provided the following uncorroborated information on militant
Muslim organizations and activities in Sri Lanka. 

¶2. (C/NF) Source reported there are four primary Muslim
groups based in Colombo: Sri Lanka Jamthi Islam, Thauhid
Jamath, Thableeq Jamath, and Jamathi Muslim. 

- Sri Lanka Jamthi Islam is based in Colombo universities and
funded by the World Assembly of Muslim Youth.  Among other
activities, the group sponsors youths to attend school in
Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Yemen. In many instances,
these youths then return to Sri Lanka to teach in
universities. 

- Thableeq Jamath has branches in Indonesia, Malaysia,
Pakistan, India, and the Philippines.  Source believes there
are foreign Muslim students in Sri Lanka connected to this
organization. 

- Thauhid Jamath was not discussed in detail. 

- Jamathi Muslim is a smaller group that is not well
developed. 

¶3. (C/NF) Source reported that Muslim groups in eastern Sri
Lanka have been visited by Pakistani organizers, and that
Muslim youths have attended camps in Sri Lanka with names
like Jihad, Ossama, Sadam, etc. These camps teach
self-defense, but are not known to train in use of firearms.
Source reported that some Sri Lankan Muslims have left Sri
Lanka to fight in jihads abroad.  Others are sent to Saudi
Arabia to work or attend college.  One NGO in Sri Lanka that
helps fund these activities is the Saudi-based World Assembly
of Muslim Youth (WAMY), headed locally by a Sudanese national
named Omar Idris DIRAR. 

¶4. (C/NF) Source suggested that the primary reason for Muslim
militancy in Sri Lanka is to defend Muslims against Tamil
(LTTE) aggression in the east.  Source outlined that the Sri
Lankan Muslim Congress, a political party that won a total of
6 seats in the April Parliamentary elections, is supported by
the loosely organized Islamic Unity Foundation (IUF).  The
IUF has about 125 core members and has military,
intelligence, religious, and political wings.  The political
wing leader, Mohamed Ameer ALI, was elected to Parliament in
the April elections under the President's SLMC party.  In
addition, Source advised the IUF is believed to have weapons
obtained from a variety of sources, including a substantial
cache bought/seized from deposed LTTE rebel leader Karuna
during his recent retreat from the Batticaloa area.  Weapons
have also reportedly been smuggled in from India.  Source
believes IUF members have received military training in the
Kashmir region of India and may have fought there.  Source
also suggested this group has a connection to Indian
underworld figure Dawood Ibrahim.  To date, Source does not
believe Muslim militancy is focused on targeting U.S.
interests. 

¶5. (C/NF) In the eastern Trincomalee District, Source
identified three primary groups organized to defend Muslims
against the LTTE in the region: the Knox group (named after a
revered Englishman), Ossama group, and Jetty (primarily
harbor workers).  These groups have the backing of the Sri
Lanka Muslim Congress. In the eastern Ampara District, Source
identified the Mujahadeen group, comprising 150 armed
members, as being stronger even than the Ossama group in
Trinco. 

¶6. (C/NF) Source indicated that there is a strong connection
between the Sri Lankan underworld and Muslim militants.  The
connection is based on human, drug and weapons smuggling
(many Muslims in the east are fishermen).  Source estimated
the most effective underworld organization is a Colombo-based
group in the Maligawatte area.  It is believed this group
obtained much of the weaponry abandoned by LTTE rebel leader
Karuna during his retreat in April and in turn sold automatic
rifles, claymore mines and possibly mortars to militant
Muslims in the east. 

¶7. (C/NF) Toward the end of the discussion, RSO asked the
Source about one newly arrived tenant in the low-rent
commercial office space located directly across the street
from the U.S. Embassy: the Ministry of Eastern Development
and Muslim Religious Affairs, headed by newly elected Muslim
Minister ATHULLA.  Source explained that one of the primary
missions of this Muslim-based Ministry is to support
development of Muslims in the east.  The Minister has
expressed no anti-American sentiment to date, but he is
believed to have close ties to the underworld Banda Group, a
criminal gang of 50-60 individuals who provide money and
protection in the eastern Ampara District.  Source indicated
the Banda Group has provided protective services to ATHULLA,
and has reportedly trained the Ossama group in weapons and
tactics.
¶8. (SBU) Finally, Source indicated that DII maintains a list
of Muslim NGOs operating in Sri Lanka which have
international links.  At the request of the RSO, the
following list was emailed by Source: 

- World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY)
No. 05, Turner Road, Borella, Colombo 8 

- International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO)
No. 6/1, Perera Lane, Galle Road, Dehiwala 

- Asian Federation of Muslim Youth (AFMY)
No. 29/1 Park Avenue, Borella, Colombo 8 

- Al Shabab Organization
No. 18, Grinier Road, Borella, Colombo 8 

- Al Eemar Organization
No. 78/A/1, Barnes Place, Cinnamon Gardens, Colombo 7 

- Al Islam Foundation, Caldera Place, Galle Road, Dehiwala 

- Ahamadiya Jamath Organization
Baseline Road, Dematagoda 

- Jamiyathul Ansari Sunnathul Muhammadiya
Paragahadeniya, Kurunegala 

- Center for Islamic Studies
No. 15A, Rohini Road, Wellawatte, Colombo 6 

- Jamiyathul Ulema
Orabi Pash Road, Maradana 

- Hubbul Avuliya Organization
Pitchers Lane, Maradana 

- Serendib Institute of Research and Development
P.O. Box 760, Colombo 

- Center for Muslim Ethnic Studies
Ward Place, Colombo 7 

¶9. (C/NF) RSO Comment - The information provided by the
Source has not been corroborated or authenticated, but the
reality is Post has very little insight into the veiled world
of Muslim militancy in eastern Sri Lanka and the information
provided is just one part of a vast puzzle that makes up the
cultural/political/religious melting pot of Sri Lanka.  The
convoluted overlapping layers of political alliances, student
activists, NGOs, militant groups, and criminal underworld
associations described by the Source is a good illustration
of the difficulty we have in assessing the militant Muslim
threat to American interests in Sri Lanka.  One area of
present concern is the widespread human smuggling operations
connected to the Muslim-dominated underworld that includes
extensive production of fraudulent documents, including false
U.S. passports and visas.  As just one example, RSO is
currently working with DS/CR/VF on a Muslim-oriented
international human smuggling operation that encompasses Sri
Lanka, India, Cyprus, and the U.S.  The potential for these
operations to facilitate movement of militant Muslims into
the U.S. should be of concern.  Most observers agree,
however, that at present what Muslim militancy exists in Sri
Lanka is directed toward defending against Tamil (LTTE)
aggression in the east.  As Tamil-on-Tamil and
Tamil-on-Muslim violence continues in the form of
assassinations, extortion, and intimidation, Muslim militancy
may escalate.  From a national security perspective, the one
thing the U.S. has working in its favor is that the LTTE
maintains  pretty tight control over its territory, and it is
unlikely to permit large-scale Muslim militancy to develop in
its areas of influence.  Any degree of militant Muslim
organization in the east would most likely have to take place
in the government-controlled cleared areas.  Aside from
occasional short-lived anti-American disturbances, there is
no current indication that U.S. interests are targeted in Sri
Lanka.  Embassy Colombo continuously monitors this issue,
however, and new developments will be reported as they
emerge.
LUNSTEAD
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    Sorry, the comment language is English – CT

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