Story of double games LTTE, RAW and Mossad | Daily News

Story of double games LTTE, RAW and Mossad

Seconds before the assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi
Seconds before the assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi

Last week, the Indian media reported a shocking revelation that Sri Lankan Tamil Tigers had provided training to Naxalites, the dreaded militants who have been carrying out armed attacks on the Indian Security Forces and Police for more than half a century.

On March 4, Sukma in Chhattisgarh witnessed yet another deadly attack on Indian Security Forces by Naxalite Maoists killing 22 Security personnel. Sukma is in the midst of the Naxalite belt running through Chhattisgarh, Bihar, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. Security officials said that preliminary investigations into the Sukma attack suggested that Basava Raju, leader of the political front of the Naxalites CPI (Maoist) led the execution. They also made a sensational disclosure that Basava Raju alias Nambala Keshav Rao was trained by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 1987. Interestingly, it was the era in which the Indian intelligence arm the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) had set up several training camps for LTTE cadres in Chennai, Dehra Doon and Gurgaon.

Basava Raju became General Secretary of the CPI (Maoist) and has been part of the Naxal movement, which started in Naxalbari in the 1970s. The National Investigation Agency had announced a reward of Indian Rs 1.5 million (SL Rs 3.75 million) for any information on Raju who is 67 years old. He is an expert at using the AK-47. The Intelligence Bureau report of 2011 said that in 1987, Basava Raju along with Ganapathy, Mallojoula Koteshwar Rao and Malla Raju Reddy among others underwent training by LTTE cadres in ambush tactics in the forests of Bastar. In 1992, he was elected as a member of the central committee of the erstwhile Communist Party of India Marxist-Leninist People’s War. In 2004 when the CPI (Maoist) was formed, Basava Raju was made the secretary of the central military commission.

The LTTE, while getting its cadres trained by Indian military experts, had clandestinely provided military trainers and mercenaries to Naxalites, obviously for huge payments. It is not clear whether it was a part of the RAW strategy to train Naxalites too, while giving weapons training to LTTE terrorists. The Indian intelligence services have different arms and sometimes one arm is not aware of the clandestine operations of the other arm.

The LTTE terrorists were also trained in military training camps in Lebanon set up by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in late 1970s and early 1980s. Founder Leader of the People’s Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE), Uma Maheswaran was one of the militants who received training under the PLO.

Mossad, short for HaMossad leModiʿin uleTafkidim Meyuḥadim, the national intelligence agency of Israel also played double games in the Sri Lankan issue since the 1980s. Former Mossad agent Victor Ostrovsky, in his book By Way of Deception made such sensational revelations in 1990.

Mossad had a man with a British passport living in Jakarta, working undercover. His main task was to facilitate arms sales in the region. They also had a man in Japan, one in India, one in Africa, and occasionally, people in Sri Lanka, and in Malaysia.

The agent in Sri Lanka, Amy Yaar made the connection and then tied the country in militarily by supplying it with substantial equipment, including PT boats for coastal patrol. At the same time, Yaar and company were supplying the LTTE with anti-PT boat equipment to use in fighting the Government Forces. The Israelis also trained elite forces for both sides, without either side knowing about the other. Ostrovsky claimed that Mossad helped Sri Lanka to cheat the World Bank and other investors out of millions of dollars to pay for all the arms they were buying from them.

Ostrovsky covered Sri Lankan dealings at Mossad headquarters. “When I was working in Yaar’s department at the Mossad headquarters, I was assigned to escort President J.R. Jayewardene’s daughter-in-law, a woman named Penny (Penny White, Ravi Jayewardene’s wife) on a secret visit to Israel. She knew me as ‘Simon’,” Ostrovsky stated. “We took her wherever she wanted to go. We were talking in general terms, but she insisted on telling me about the Mahaweli Project and how money for it was financing equipment for the army. She was complaining that they weren’t really getting on with it. Ironically, the project had been invented to get money from the World Bank to pay for those weapons.”

“At that time, Israel had no diplomatic relations with Sri Lanka. In fact, they were supposedly embargoing us. But she was telling me about all these secret political meetings going on. The funny thing was that when news stories were leaked about the meetings, they claimed Israel had 150 katsas (spy agents) working in Sri Lanka. We didn’t have that many katsas in the entire world.

“I was to squire Penny around to the usual tourist spots for two days, and then she would be looked after by someone else from the office. Penny was a pleasant woman, physically an Indian version of Corazon Aquino. She was a Buddhist because her husband was, but she was somehow still a Christian, so she wanted to see all the Christian holy places. On the second day, I took her to Vered Haglil, or the Rose of Galilee, a horse ranch-restaurant on the mountain with a nice view and good food. We had an account there.”

Ostrovsky referred to training of Sri Lankans in detail in his book. “Amy and I escorted the nine Sri Lankans through a back door of the airport into an air-conditioned van. These were the first arrivals from a group that would finally total nearly 50.”

“An anti-terror group was training at the military base near Petha Tikvah, called Kfar Sirkin, learning how to overtake hijacked buses and airplanes or deal with hijackers in a building, how to descend from helicopters on a rope, and other anti-terrorist tactics. And, of course, they would be buying Uzis and other Israeli-made equipment, including bulletproof vests, special grenades, and more.

“A purchasing team also came and they bought seven or eight large PT boats, for example, called Dvora, which they would use mainly to patrol their northern shores against Tamils. Yosy, another agent, was also looking after a group being trained by the Israelis. But they weren't supposed to meet my people. They were Tamils, bitter enemies of my Sinhalese group. Sympathy for the Tamils runs high in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, where 40 million Tamils live. Many Sri Lankan Tamils, escaping the bloodshed, have sought refuge there, and the Sri Lankan Government has accused Indian officials of arming and training the Tamils. They should be accusing the Mossad.”

“The Tigers were training at the commando naval base, learning penetration techniques, mining landings, communications, and how to sabotage ships similar to the Dvora. There were about 28 men in each group, so it was decided that Yosy should take the Tamils to Haifa that night while I took the Sinhalese to Tel Aviv, thus avoiding any chance encounters.”

“The real problem started about two weeks into the courses, when both the Tamils and Sinhalese unknown to each other, of course were training at Kfar Sirkin. It is a fairly large base, but even so, on one occasion the two groups passed within a few yards of each other while they were out jogging. After their basic training routine at Kfar Sir-kin, the Sinhalese were taken to the naval base to be taught essentially how to deal with all the techniques the Israelis had just taught the Tamils. It was pretty hectic. We had to dream up punishments or night training exercises just to keep them busy, so that both groups wouldn’t be in Tel Aviv at the same time. The actions of this one man (Amy) could have jeopardized the political situation in Israel if these groups had met,” Ostrovsky said.

While Mossad played a double game, now it is clear that the Indian RAW too played a strange role. While the reasons for RAW’s strategy of training Tiger terrorists is no longer a secret, its involvement of training Naxalites in LTTE camps is still shrouded in mystery.

The India-trained LTTE fought the IPKF, killed over 1,000 Indian soldiers and finally assassinated former Premier Rajiv Gandhi. Thanks to Sri Lankan Armed Forces, the dreaded LTTE terrorism ended in 2009. But the Naxalites are still active in several parts of Eastern India with LTTE trained Nambala Keshava Rao, Basava Raju reportedly heading the military wing since its formation in 2004.