Malaysia a new base for Tamil Tigers?

Malaysia a new base for Tamil Tigers?


Bomb expert among 4 senior leaders of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam arrested by M'sian police

After the arrests of militants linked to jihadist groups Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and the Abu Sayyaf recently, Malaysian authorities are grappling with another problem - the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The LTTE had been fighting for a separate Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka for decades, but their movement was defeated in a massive Sri Lankan army operation in 2009.

The police in Malaysia flushed out four senior leaders of the outlawed organisation in a crackdown in the wake of a similar bust in India, The Star reported.

One of those arrested is a bomb expert, The Star reported.

Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said the bomb expert holds an United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) refugee card.

He said seven of the 14 LTTE members arrested this year were using UNHCR cards.

The UNHCR spokesman in Kuala Lumpur, Ms Yante Ismail, said the organisation was unable to comment on suspected Tamil Tiger leaders with UNHCR cards, adding that it was the body's policy not to publicly comment on individual cases involving asylum-seekers and refugees.

She said refugee protection is not extended to individuals who have committed very serious crimes.

Another of the suspects arrested was also involved in human trafficking, given the number of forged passports found in one of their hideouts.

IGP Khalid confirmed that many Malaysian passports were among the items seized, along with forged stamps of the Immigration Department and those of foreign embassies.

A source told The Star that French work permits as well as permits from other countries were seized from one of their hideouts.

"Police believe the suspect was working with local forgery syndicates," the source said.

The report said the LTTE members had assimilated themselves in Malaysia.

Some are working as professionals, including one who is an IT consultant, while others might be running their own businesses.

And the hunt is on for more of them as police believe the Tamil Tigers are trying to revive their movement.

The police believe they are using Malaysia as a transit point, hideout and a base of operation.

The detention of the four on Thursday brings the total number of Sri Lankan Tamils arrested in the country in the last two months to seven, The Star reported.

Malaysia is facing insurgency in other areas.

Sabah's eastern coast - known for its pristine beaches and dive sites popular with tourists - has seen a string of violence, including an armed assault last year by guerillas from the nearby southern Philippines, AFP reported.

In April this year, two women - Gao Huayun, 29, from China and Marcy Dayawan, 40, from the Philippines - were kidnapped from the Singamata Reef Resort in Sabah.

They were rescued after almost two months.

This article was first published on July 7, 2014.
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