How odd that two of these convicted would-be terrorist helpers held senior positions in Canadian Tamil organizations:
The trial of three Canadians accused of travelling to New York in 2006 to buy anti-aircraft missiles and assault rifles for the Tamil Tigers guerrillas ended yesterday following two more guilty pleas.
Sahilal Sabaratnam, 29, and Thiruthanikan Thanigasalam, 41, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to support a foreign terrorist group and conspiracy to buy missiles.
Their co-accused, Sathajhan Sarachandran, 29, had already pleaded guilty on Monday.
They each face a minimum sentence of 25 years with a maximum of life imprisonment after admitting they were part of a Canadian-based arms procurement cell of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rebels, also known as the LTTE.
Prior to his arrest, Sabaratnam served as the communications director of the Canadian Tamil Congress in 2005, but the group’s current spokesman, David Poopilapillai, said the organization had since been revamped. “We don’t condone any unlawful activity,” he said.
Sarachandran, who played a logistical role, is a former University of Windsor computer science student and had served as national president of the Canadian Tamil Students Association [no web site].
Three other Canadians arrested in Ontario around the same time on similar charges are undergoing extradition proceedings to determine whether they should be sent to New York to stand trial.
The Tamil Tigers are separatist rebels fighting for independence for Sri Lanka’s ethnic Tamil minority.
Providing material support to the Tigers is a violation of Canadian and U. S. anti-terrorism laws.
Once a potent force in South Asia, the rebels have suffered major setbacks in recent weeks and now appear on the verge of defeat. Government troops chased them from their last stronghold on the weekend, but there are concerns for the roughly 250,000 civilians trapped in the war zone…
Update: Here’s a Globe and Mail story on the Tigers’ pervasive influence over, and huge support from, Toronto’s Tamil community.