Tuesday, 2 August 2016

How LTTE inspired Oslo massacre influenced mass murder in Munich



By Shamindra Ferdinando

European Union member state Germany believes that an18-year-old gunman who had massacred nine people on July 22, 2016 at the Olympia shopping mall in Munich was inspired by Norwegian Andres Breivik responsible for July 22,2011 massacre of 77 persons, mostly teenagers in two consecutive attacks in Norway.

At the time of the Norway massacre, Breivik had been 32 year old far right extremist.

International media quoted a distraught Munich police chief Hubertus Andrae as having said that there was an "obvious" link between the shopping mall massacre and fifth anniversary of Breivik’s attacks. The media said seven of the dead were teenagers. from Kosovo (3), Turkey (3) and one from Greece.

The gunman, who had dual German-Iranian nationality, later shot himself. The police identified the killer as David Ali Sonboly aka David S. The Munich massacre is the latest in a series of terrorist attacks, including what are dubbed as lone wolf attacks inspired by terrorism elsewhere.

Denying a link between the teenage killer, the Munich police declared that the youth had been obsessed with mass shootings. The police found written material on such attacks in his room prompting Munich’s police chief to speak of links to the Breivik’s massacre.

Sonboly also wounded 27 persons, ten of them critically.

While Germany had acknowledged the Norwegian inspired Sonboly, there was absolutely no reference to Breivik being inspired by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), one of the Indian sponsored terrorist groups proscribed by the US as well as India. International media couldn’t have been unaware of Breivik’s public declaration of being inspired by LTTE tactics to carry out attacks. Breivik exploded a car bomb near Norwegian Prime Minister’s Office killing eight persons and causing injuries to 209. Then, Breivik having dressed as a police officer had reached Utoya island where he shot dead 69 persons (One of them succumbed to injuries two days later at a hospital). Among the dead were the then Norwegian Premier Jens Stoltenberg’s personal friends as well as the stepbrother of Norwegian crown princess Mette-Marit.

Breivik carried out the massacre over two years after the Sri Lankan military wiped out the LTTE on the banks of the Nanthikadal lagoon. A few hours before, Breivik went on the rampage, the Norwegian made reference to the LTTE’s eviction of the Muslim community from the Northern Province in Oct/Nov 1990, in his so-called manifesto released online.

Did Breivik associate with ex-LTTE cadres living in Norway?

The then Sri Lanka’s ambassador in Oslo Rodney Perera aggressively pursued the Breivik’s case. Perera is Sri Lanka’s ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg and the European Union. The veteran career diplomat in an interviews with the writer and The Sunday Observer staffer Manjula Fernando, explained his efforts on behalf of the government of Sri Lanka to convince Norway to examine Breivik’s case. Ambassador Perera said that the international community couldn’t ignore the threat posed by various extremists being inspired by terrorists. Ambassador Perera went out of his way to draw the attention of the then Norwegian government to to the two extracts that refer to Sri Lanka; (1) Pro-Sri Lanka (supports the deportation of all Muslims from Sri Lanka) (Page 1235) and (2) Fourth Generation War is normally characterized by a "stateless" entity fighting a state or regime (the EUSSR). Fighting can be physically such as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to use a modern example." (Page 1479)

Sri Lanka pointed out to Norway that the government of Sri Lanka or people demanded the expulsion of the Muslims. Norway was told of the circumstances under which the LTTE had forced the entire Muslim population to quit the Northern Province in Oct/Nov 1990 during Ranasinghe Premadasa’s tenure as the President. The Sinhalese fled the Jaffna peninsula during early 80s. Breivik had misinterpreted the LTTE’s strategy as that of the then government of Sri Lanka. President Premadasa struggled to meet the LTTE challenge on the Northern front. Having resumed war in June 1990, by Nov, same year, the LTTE had wiped out all army bases along the Kandy -Jaffna A9 road to bring the vanni region under its control. Isolated army and navy bases situated along coastal areas didn’t pose a threat to the LTTE.

The LTTE cleared the Northern Province comprising Jaffna, Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi, Mannar and Vavuniya of Muslims against the backdrop of the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) fleeing the Vanni. The LTTE inflicted a humiliating defeat on the SLA much to the embarrassment of the then political and military leaderships.

Breivik obviously had received LTTE propaganda material over a period of time and strongly believed the murderous campaign directed against the Muslims living in Sri Lanka’s North. Wouldn’t it pertinent to examine whether the Munich killer had accessed Breivik’s manifesto?

In response to a query by Manjula Fernando, Ambassador Perera said: "The second reference in the Breivik ‘manifesto’ is a clear indication of him astutely following on the modus operandi of the LTTE whereby the State was drawn into a conflict which was pursued vigorously by bombing State property, killing democratically elected leaders, public officials and the civilian population from all ethnic and religious denominations." (Norway should change its stance on LTTE-SL’s Ambassador in Oslo, August 7, 2011,The Sunday Observer)

Manjula Fernando further quoted Ambassador Perere as having said: "Therefore, it is possible that Breivik may have had contacts with some of the LTTE activists either in Norway or elsewhere. I have raised this very pertinent issue with the senior political and security authorities in Oslo who have assured me that they are pursuing all such queries and we have agreed to follow this up in our regular interactions."

Norway appointed a ten-member committee headed by Alexandra Bech Gjorv (lawyer and businesswoman) to inquire into the massacre. On the basis of the report handed over to Norwegian Prime Minister, international media said that the police could have thwarted the bombing in Oslo and reached Utoya island. The media also reported that prevented from carrying out the massacre on the island. However, there hadn’t been any reference to Breivik relationship with LTTE violence. The then government never bothered to obtain copy of the full report.

The writer pursued the Breivik matter with the then External Affairs Ministry. The following is a front-page story titled Norway urged to probe  LTTE-Breivik ‘relationship’ on September 7, 2011 issue: The government of Sri Lanka is quietly pushing Norway to investigate the circumstances that led to Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik, 32, adopting tactics used by the LTTE, an organization proscribed in 32 countries.

Authoritative diplomatic sources told The Island that Sri Lanka expected the July 22 Commission, headed by lawyer Alexandra Bech Gjørv, to delve into a possible LTTE link to the killer. Referring to a statement attributed to Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, sources said that Sri Lanka believed that the commission would look into all aspects of the massacre which claimed the lives of 76 men, women and children.

PM Stoltenberg wants the commission to finalize its report by Aug. 10, 2012.

The Norwegian PM declared that the commission could secure external expertise to facilitate its work.

Breivik is in custody for carrying out the bombing that killed eight persons in Oslo and shooting 68 persons on Utoya.

Sri Lanka’s top diplomat in Oslo Rodney Perera is in the process of discussing the issue with Norwegian politicians, officials and the media as part of ongoing efforts to highlight the dangers posed by the LTTE, though it no longer retained a conventional military capability.

Responding to a query by The Island, Ambassador Perera said that Gjørv’s commission would delve into what he called the Sri Lankan angle.

Recently Ambassador Perera wrote to members of the Norwegian parliament, key officials and the media pointing out the references made by Breivik to the LTTE/Sri Lanka, namely forcible eviction of Muslims from Northern and Eastern Sri Lanka (page1235 of Breivik’s manifesto) and ‘fourth generation war’(page 1479) characterized by a stateless entity fighting a state or regime such as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to use a modern example.

The Ambassador’s letter is expected to be taken up at the July 22 Commission.

While explaining Sri Lanka’s position on Breivik’s references to the LTTE’s strategy, Ambassador Perera asserted the assassin may have had contacts with some of the LTTE activists either in Norway or elsewhere.

There were two other important facts in the Breivik case, Ambassador Perera said. "It is known that Breivik wore a ‘police’ uniform so that he could execute his innocent victims at will. This was all too similar to what the LTTE did on numerous occasions, i. e. to carry out premeditated attacks on civilians from all walks of life, posing as Sri Lankan military personnel in order to draw unsuspecting civilians to them and later pin the blame on the armed forces as could be seen from the fabricated photographs and videos being circulated to discredit Sri Lanka’s democratically elected leaders and the heroic military forces. Then it is reported that Breivik has said in his manifesto that he intended to film the attacks for propaganda purposes. This is once again very similar to what the LTTE had done in the past."

The commission comprises:

* Former Chief of Police in Hordaland, Ragnar Line Auglend, Bergen

* Former Police Commissioner in Copenhagen, Hanne Bech Hansen, Hillerup, Denmark

* Researcher Laila Bokhari, Oslo

* Former CEO of NSB Einar Enger, Rakkestad

* Lt General Torgeir Hagen, former head of the Norwegian armed forces’ intelligence services, Hamar

* Professor Guri Hjeltnes, Oslo.

* Vice President of the Norwegian Red Cross, Linda Motrøen Paulsen, Stavanger

* Chief County Medical Officer, Karin Straume, Vadsø

These nine members will be supplemented by a tenth, who will be a man with police or rescue services expertise from one of Norway’s closest neighboring countries."

The previous government pathetically failed at least to make any reference to the Breivik factor at any of the international forums where Western powers routinely harassed and humiliated the country. In fact, the previous government turned a blind eye to the Breivik factor though Ambassador Perera relentlessly pursued the issue.

Former New Delhi-based Israeli ambassador to Sri Lanka, Mark Sofer, during an interview with this writer, in early 2011 said that his country was a victim of suicide bombing, pioneered by the LTTE. Sofer said that many Israeli civilians had been killed and wounded due to human bombs and Sri Lanka should be proud of achieving military victory over the LTTE.

Sofer said that the LTTE had influenced those causing mayhem in the Middle East. He alleged that LTTE suicide attacks had inspired those targeting Jewish targets.

Western powers allowed the LTTE a free hand though the organization was proscribed in US, UK, Canada and EU territory.

The al Qaeda attack on USS Cole in the port of Aden, on Oct 12, 2000, prompted the LTTE to proudly declare the operation had been inspired by its own tactics. The mission killed 17 US personnel and injured 39 others.

Western powers never bothered to examine the LTTE influence in grooming international terrorism. Instead, they encouraged LTTE cadres to seek refuge in Europe and Canada at the expense of Sri Lanka.

The state-of-the-art Destroyer was rammed by a small craft, laden with explosives, which blew a 40 foot hole in the side of the guided missile ship.

The operation was very much similar to the Black Sea Tiger attack on surveillance command ship, ‘Edithara’, in the Kankesanthurai harbour, in the mid 90s.

Sea Tigers employed similar tactics in another successful attack on another SLN vessel, ‘Abeetha’, off Point Pedro, on May 4, 1991.

Thillaiyampalam Sivanesan, aka Soosai, in an exclusive interview with BBC’s Francis Harrison, during the Oslo-managed Ceasefire Agreement, boasted Al Qaeda copied tactics from the LTTE. Soosai is quoted as having said that other terrorist groups should learn from the LTTE as the Al Qaeda had already copied them.

The interview, with Soosai, recorded during the LTTE celebrations of Heroes’ Day (during November), and broadcast over BBC Television, was posted on the BBC Website’s South Asia section, under the heading, "Tamil Tigers Reveal Suicide Secrets" as a video clip. The news feature introduced the Black Tigers as "the Original Suicide Bombers of the World."

Referring to the attack on USS Cole, Soosai said "They are using our tactics. I think in Yemen they used our strategy of suicide attack to blow up an American ship. That is exactly what we used to do."

Soosai is believed to have been killed, in May 2009, while crossing the Nanthikadal lagoon with LTTE leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, and his family. The Navy captured Soosai’s wife, Satyadevi as she was fleeing to Tamil Nadu in a boat in the early hours of May 15, 2009. Over a dozen others, including Soosai’s son and daughter were captured.

The LTTE, obviously, exploited Frances Harrison’s BBC programme to influence those hell-bent on causing death and destruction in the world. Germany wouldn’t have expected a massacre in far away Norway to inspire a German-Italian youth to carry out a massacre. Germany shouldn’t ignore that the Munich killer carried out the massacre to coincide with the fifth anniversary of Norway killings. The LTTE received a considerable positive media coverage in the West during the war with the British leading the way. The BBC went to the extent in glorifying LTTE suicide cadres and Sea Tiger tactics.

Until the very end the an influential section of Western, Indian and local media portrayed the LTTE as a conventional force that cannot be militarily defeated. Unfortunately, Breivik proved that LTTE ideology can influence death and destruction even years after eradication of India’s monstrous creation.

Those demanding accountability on the part of Sri Lanka for eradicating the LTTE through military means never called for investigation into Indian intervention here which caused terrorism. For want of a cohesive strategy, previous government failed to counter false propaganda directed at Sri Lanka by various interested parties leading to the passage of Geneva Resolution 30/1 in last October.

Breivik’s massacre should be examined against the backdrop of Norway arranging a Ceasefire Agreement between Sri Lanka and the LTTE in February, 2002. The Norwegian project went awry much to the relief of the vast majority of Sri Lankans and a three year war finally eradicated the group leaving its political wing the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) to pursue a high profile campaign leading to the passage of Geneva Resolution 30/1 inimical to Sri Lanka.