Ilankai Tamil Sangam

24th Year on the Web

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

High Definition Assassination

by K. Annan

For Tamils who have seen the conflict mushroom, there has never been an iota of doubt about the substandard and backward capabilities of the Sri Lankan intelligence. Therefore, the question that arose in the minds of Tamils was  “How on earth did the inefficient intelligence agency of Sri Lanka locate Tamil Chelvan?”

The answer lies in the use of high-definition satellite imagery provided to the Sri Lankan air force, probably by the British, US and Indian intelligence agencies.

Part 1: The Assassination

Reaction to the assassination of the Tamil political wing leader Tamilchelvan varied, with the government of Sri Lankan celebrating the event on par with a test match victory, while the Tamils in general sans a few Brahmins mourned the demise of the head of the peace office as a tragedy. Either way, it was viewed by many stakeholders to the peace in Sri Lanka as a setback to the peace process. The immediate aftermath of the assassination was confusion and astonishment among the Tamil and Sinhalese communities respectively. 

As the Tamils recovered from their initial shock and grief, the question arose in their mind as to how the Sri Lankan air force was able to pinpoint Tamil Chelvan’s location prior to the bombing. Several statements released by the Sri Lankan polity are indicative of the likely complicity of foreign countries in helping Sri Lanka to locate the whereabouts of Tamil Chelvan for the assassination.

Historical trends in dealing with conflicts of a similar nature and the often inward looking and self-serving foreign policies pursued by a host of countries suggest the possible role played by the United States and Great Britain with the tacit support and approval of India in the assassination of Tamil Chelvan. For Tamils who have seen the conflict mushroom, there has never been an iota of doubt about the substandard and backward capabilities of the Sri Lankan intelligence. Therefore, the question that arose in the minds of Tamils was  “How on earth did the inefficient intelligence agency of Sri Lanka locate Tamil Chelvan?”

The answer lies in the use of high-definition satellite imagery provided to the Sri Lankan air force, probably by the British, US and Indian intelligence agencies. One might recall the fact that during the time Chandrika Bandaranayake was pursuing peace, the US embassy routinely released statements warning Sri Lanka on Tiger buildups and their long term implications for the state of Sri Lanka. The US cited satellite mappings as evidence in issuing their proclamations. The satellite imagery of that time was considered powerful enough to map large clusters and concentrations of people on the ground.

The satellite technology of today, however, has advanced to the extent that a terrestrial satellite can now pinpoint a watch worn by a person on his hand on the ground. Recently, the US government entered into a legal tussle on the use of satellite images with Google and subsequently Google was forced to withdraw its plan to offer higher resolution images on its mapping services. In this respect, Vice Admiral Robert Murrett, the director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in the US, suggested restricting the distribution of high-definition satellite imagery freely on the Internet. As a result, Google now offers a low resolution image. In terms of quality, these images are similar to those beamed by the Ikonos-2 satellite that was launched in September 1999.

If the low resolution image that we see today on Google can easily locate a vehicle on the ground, one can only imagine the accuracy of the high-definition imagery that can be beamed to the earth by a satellite. Satellite imaging technology now enjoys a preeminent position in intelligence gathering. The US has set up an entire division dedicated to overseeing satellite-based intelligence gathering that is well financed as a part of its 43 billion dollar annual budget allocated for overall intelligence activities. The obvious downside to the use of satellite technology is that one's enemies could also use the same intrusive technology to their advantage. Due to the implications of this technology for national security , many countries have developed laser weapons to destroy or blind these satellites. In January of this year, the Chinese successfully tested a missile that destroyed an orbiting satellite according to CNN.

In the case of Tamil Chelvan’s assassination, a sharp satellite image would have done the damage by easily identifying Mr. Tamil Chelvan on the ground by his iconic cane. Moreover, the building where Tamil Chelvan routinely met other officials remained an open secret. This particular building would have been under surveillance by either the US Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the satellite imaging division of US, or by its equivalent division in Britain or by the Indian intelligence agency using IRS ( Indian Remote Sensing Satellite) that is now in orbit. Had Tamil Chelvan used his satellite phone prior to the ill-fated event, his presence would have further been confirmed for the intended purpose.   

But then again, identifying a location but not the victim’s presence within the vicinity of the location is the limit to which the technology can be used. Pinpointing the victim at a given point in time for assassination is still a human task. This is where the services of Karuna would have come in handy for the assassination team. Among the many reasons for stage managing Karuna’s entry into Britain, one would have undoubtedly been his inside knowledge of sensitive LTTE locations.  There is every reason to believe that Karuna is now in the service of the British intelligence agencies. His immediate task or assignment would perhaps be to identify prime LTTE locations and targets for British intelligence, who in turn would by all indications be relaying the information to the Sri Lankan air force.

Tamils would to be daft to believe the explanations given by the British government or the Sri Lankan government on the events that lead to the transmigration of Karuna from Sri Lanka to England. A cardinal reason as to why the Tamils repeatedly fall prey to the traps laid by the seasoned Sri Lankan state and its co-hosts is because, by and large, the Tamils are a trusting group of people. Often, they are naïve enough to accept media reports at face value without questioning the validity or  motives of the carefully choreographed information disseminated by the representative states. In this respect, Karuna’s passage to Britain should also be treated as nothing other than a big drama cum hoax jointly staged by interested international parties. To interpret this incident in any other form would be to make a grave mistake to the detriment of Tamils. 

One of the drastic consequences of such a mistake would be to be blinded to the unfolding of plan B, or the backup plan, for which Karuna has been transplanted to London. Knowing the craftiness of the Tigers, it is to be expected that sooner rather than later they would devise a strategy to effectively counter the threat posed to their military capabilities and to their leadership by satellite imagery. Early signs of their strategy are already emerging by the fact that Tigers have refrained from referring to their important personnel by name in their military and political bulletins.

Plan B will unfold when the current military thrust fizzles, as it is likely to happen, and Tamil Eelam is declared. In this case, Karuna will be tried in International courts for war crimes, where he will be coerced into reciting a well choreographed account of the events implicating the leadership of the state of Eelam. The news will be flashed all over the world with the help of the able and willing media units such the family-owned and operated Hindu or the National Post, which is owned by the now convicted Lord Blackwell.  The tainted picture painted in the media would give the needed and necessary credibility for an UN incursion into Tamil Eelam for better or worse.

The UN would thus have gained the planned mandate to authorize any measure on a supposedly rogue state now ruled by implicated war criminals. The Tamils, as naive as we are, will inadvertently be helping our adversaries when we clamor for Karuna’s trial for war crimes. The fact that the US is not a signatory to the war tribunal courts while using the same to bring many former leaders of hostile states to trial speaks volumes about the purpose and intentions of this ludicrous Euro-centric court of war crimes. As for us, the Tamils, Karuna’s fall has been a blessing in disguise that is best left to those holding the baby to baby-sit.