NEW YORK (July 2, 2013) — The U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of New York, reports that defendant Suresh Sriskandarajah, 32, pleaded guilty in federal court in Brooklyn, to conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), also known as the Tamil Tigers.
The crime was in connection with his attempt to procure sophisticated military technology, including submarine and warship design software and night vision equipment, for the LTTE. Sriskandarajah faces a maximum term of 15 years’ imprisonment.
Six of Sriskandarajah’s co-defendants were previously convicted of terrorism-related offenses in connection with their support for the LTTE.
Sriskandarajah’s guilty plea was announced July 2 by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; George Venizelos, Assistant Director in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office; Aaron T. Ford, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Newark Field Office; and Raymond W. Kelly, Commissioner of the New York City Police Department. The guilty plea was accepted by United States District Judge Raymond J. Dearie.
As detailed in court filings, between September 2004 and April 2006, Sriskandarajah and several co-conspirators assisted a principal LTTE procurement officer in researching and acquiring aviation equipment, submarine and warship design software, night vision equipment and communications technology.
Sriskandarajah used students as couriers to smuggle prohibited items into territory in Sri Lanka that was controlled by the LTTE at that time. Additionally, Sriskandarajah helped the LTTE launder its proceeds in the United States and elsewhere. Following his indictment in the Eastern District of New York, Sriskandarajah, who is a Canadian citizen, was extradited to the United States from Canada, arriving in 2012.
The LTTE was founded in 1976 and uses illegal methods to raise money, acquire weapons and technology, and publicize its cause of establishing an independent Tamil state in northern Sri Lanka. The LTTE began its armed conflict against the Sri Lankan government in 1983 and utilizes a guerrilla strategy that often includes acts of terrorism.
At its height, the LTTE controlled most of the northern and eastern coastal areas of Sri Lanka. Over the past 19 years, the LTTE has conducted approximately 200 suicide bombings, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of victims, and carried out numerous political assassinations, including the May 1991 assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi; the 1993 assassination of the President of Sri Lanka Ranasinghe Premadasa, the July 1999 assassination of Neelan Thiruchelvam, a member of the Sri Lankan parliament; the June 2000 assassination of C.V. Goonaratne, the Sri Lankan Industry Minister; the August 2006 assassination of the Sri Lankan government’s peace secretariat Ketheshwaran Loganathan; the January 2008 assassination of Sri Lankan Minister for Nation Building D.M. Dassanayake; and the April 2008 assassination of Sri Lankan Highways Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle. In May 2009, the LTTE’s forces in Sri Lanka were defeated by the Sri Lankan government.
In 1997, the LTTE was designated by the U.S. State Department as a foreign terrorist organization, and the LTTE therefore may not legally raise money or procure equipment or materials in the United States.
“The defendant helped the LTTE, an organization that pioneered terrorist tactics and has killed numerous civilians in brutal terrorist attacks, obtain sophisticated military technology and equipment,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “Claiming to fight for freedom, the LTTE instead created a climate of fear and bloodshed, systematically assassinating those who stood in the way of their terrorist goals. We will continue to locate and prosecute those who fund and support terrorist organizations, wherever they reside.” Ms. Lynch extended her grateful appreciation to the New York and Newark Field Offices of the FBI and the New York City Police Department.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexander Solomon.
A Web site created by supporters of Suresh asserts that he is a model student and involved in the community. They claim that allegations of providing computer software to the Tamil Tigers in no way relates to weapons. They assert that the allegations dated prior to the banning of Tamil Tigers in Canada, but that U.S. authorities sought to have him extradited on the technicality that the e-mail computer server Suresh used was based in New York.