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LTTE agent caught in India
Published on 30 Dec. 2008 1:47 AM IST
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A Sri Lankan Tamil man trying to smuggle communication equipment to the Tamil Tigers has been arrested in India. Informed sources said Monday that more arrests are likely. The Tamil Nadu Police 'Q Branch' - which deals with insurgent groups - took into custody Amir Antony Paranthaman, 32, in Chennai Saturday night, leading to the seizure of satellite telephones and global positioning systems (GPS) sent from Switzerland. The goods were meant for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which is in desperate need of war material as it battles the steadily advancing military in its lair in Sri Lanka's north. According to the official version, when Antony was caught, he had a satellite phone with him. His questioning led to the discovery of three more satellite phones, eight GPS as well as mobile phone repeaters that are used to improve reception. All this had been sent to Tamil Nadu by a LTTE contact in Switzerland, one of the countries home to a large Sri Lankan Tamil population. According to the police, two LTTE activists identified as Kannan and Prakash asked Antony to collect the material and ensure its transportation to Sri Lanka by boat from the Tamil Nadu coastal town of Rameswaram. The police also seized 500 kg of ammonium nitrate, a fertiliser component used to make explosives. The arrested man was originally from Jaffna and came to Tamil Nadu earlier this year as a refugee with his wife. The woman has also been questioned but she insisted that she was in no way linked to the Tamil Tigers. After taking up residence in Chennai, Antony started a travel agency - a business that officials say is a favourite with Sri Lankan Tamils including those involved with the LTTE. Sri Lankan Tamils have also opened telephone kiosks, Internet cafes and car rental agencies in Tamil Nadu, which is separated from the island by a strip of sea and where the LTTE and other Tamil groups had offices and military camps in the 1980s. Antony's arrest, which followed a surveillance operation also involving central security agencies, has again exposed the continuing dependence of the LTTE on Tamil Nadu. It also shows that despite facing pressure in Sri Lanka, the LTTE retains the ability to put together networks involving more than one country to source material it needs to pursue its war. Indian authorities, the sources told IANS, were aware that for every consignment intercepted in Tamil Nadu, some might be slipping past them - into Sri Lanka. LTTE cadres arrested in the past have admitted to interrogators in Tamil Nadu that they would continue to source war material from the state - and perhaps other parts of India. Some officials believe that the LTTE might be employing at least some Tamils not linked to it to help them out in Tamil Nadu. Antony, the sources said, did not appear to have undergone any special LTTE training.

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