Sri Lankan admits helping LTTE get missiles from US
May 12, 2007 - 11:21:34 AM
Washington, May 12 - A Sri Lankan man has pleaded guilty to charges of helping Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam - in a foiled attempt to procure surface to air missiles and other weapons from the US.
Thirunavukarasu Varatharasa, 37, is the fourth person to be convicted in a plot to attempt to obtain military weapons in violation of American law, US Justice department announced Friday.
According to the plea agreement, from April to Sep 29, 2006 Varatharasa conspired with Haji Subandi, Haniffa Osman and Erick Wotulo to export state-of-the-art firearms, machine guns and ammunition, surface to air missiles, night vision goggles and other military weapons to the LTTE operating within Sri Lanka, to be used to fight against the government forces there.
The conspirators contacted an undercover business located in Maryland about the sale of military weapons. They aided in the acquisition and proposed delivery of military technology to the Tamil Tigers by requesting price quotes and negotiating the purchases.
Subandi sent an itemised list of 53 military weapons, including sniper rifles, machine guns and grenade launchers that he wanted to acquire for the Tamil Tigers.
On Sep 25, 2006 Varatharasa and Osman arrived in Saipan to meet with undercover officers and inspect the weaponry that had been ordered on behalf of the Tamil Tigers.
They were transported to Guam where, the next day, Varatharasa and Osman inspected various machine guns, sniper rifles and ammunition. They also inspected two surface-to-air missiles and agreed to communicate to others within the Tamil Tigers regarding the availability and pricing of the missiles.
After the inspection was completed, Varatharasa and Osman agreed to arrange for the transfer of money into an undercover bank account in Maryland as payment for the arms and munitions. Varatharasa also purchased food and provisions for his trip from Guam to deliver the weaponry to the Tamil Tigers at a location in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Sri Lanka.
On Sep 29, 2006 Wotulo arrived in Guam. Varatharasa, Wotulo and Osman met with undercover officers in Guam and discussed current and future sales of weapons to the Tamil Tigers, and were arrested.
Varatharasa faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison for conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and 10 years in prison for attempted exportation of arms and munitions. US District Judge Catherine C. Blake has not yet set a sentencing date. The other three accused convicted earlier face similar penalties.
'Today's case reflects ICE's commitment to keeping US weapons and technology out of the hands of terrorists,' said Julie Myers, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement - Assistant Secretary.
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