Born: April 6, 1955
Aliases: KP, Selvarasa Pathmanathan and many others
Charges: Criminal conspiracy, arms smuggling, violation of the Indian Terrorist Act and the Indian Explosive Act, assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.
Self-appointed LTTE leader Kumaran Pathmanathan alias KP was arrested in a South-east Asian country and brought to Colombo yesterday (06). He was being kept in an undisclosed location.
Authoritative sources told The Island last night that a section of the international community had made a desperate bid to promote him as Velupillai Prabhakaran’s successor. Sources said that KP’s arrest would effectively neutralise on-going efforts to revive the LTTE spearheaded by foreign powers which arranged direct contacts between the key terrorist and UN officials.
KP, who had been the LTTE’s international relations chief till he claimed the LTTE leadership after the army killed Velupillai Prabhakaran in May, previously functioned as the group’s main arms procurer.
On August 04 the Indian Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) said the LTTE had been running a powerful narcotics network in Southeast Asia and after the demise of Prabhakaran other terrorist organisations in the region were vying with one another to take over the lucrative drug trade.
Government sources said that President Mahinda Rajapaksa had been briefed on the arrest and he had directed relevant authorities to go ahead with investigations.
KP was wanted by Interpol and also by India in connection with the assassination of one-time Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
In September, two years ago, though there were media reports of KP’s arrest in Bangkok, Thailand denied the reports. But, he subsequently reappeared under the name S. Pathmanathan and handled the LTTE’s international political arm.
Over the past several years, Sri Lanka made desperate attempts to track down the terrorist and his chief associates.
Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama last night told The Island that Sri Lanka in the recent past had inquired about KP from several countries, including Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.
He said that Sri Lanka was grateful to the international community for cracking down on LTTE operatives.
Sources said that the arrest of Pathmanathan, the new head of the remnants of the LTTE, would strengthen Sri Lanka’s efforts to cripple LTTE operations abroad. Although the government didn’t confirm it, some sources said that the arrest had been made in Thailand, citing military officials.
They seek him here,
they seek him there,
[those Frenchies seek him everywhere.
Is he in heaven or is he in hell?
That damned elusive Pimpernel.]
Someone used the first two lines of this famous verse somewhere some time ago to describe the so-called elusive international arms dealer and ace racketeer of the LTTE Selvarajah Pathmanathan alias KP. But, today, KP is very much here in Colombo spilling the beans in captivity! As the man who ran the LTTE's arms and narcotics smuggling operations, KP must be having really interesting stuff to reveal to his interrogators.
Diasporic Tigers' hopes of making a comeback have been dashed once again.
Prabhakaran, it is said, fondly dubbed KP 'donkey' because of the burden the latter carried for the LTTE as its chief arms procurer. Towards the end of Prabhakaran, KP also became the LTTE's de facto international spokesman with access to even UN bigwigs and leaders of several western governments, though it was claimed in some quarters that he had fallen out of grace and Prabhakaran was out for his blood.
A quick learner, KP cleverly changed the LTTE's strategy after Prabhakaran's demise. He sought to give the LTTE a face-lift by claiming it had renounced violence to achieve its goal. Thus, he tried to prevent an international crackdown on his vulnerable arms and drug smuggling network and have bans lifted in the West so that the LTTE could rebuild itself overseas and make a comeback in Sri Lanka someday.
KP, on the pretext of conducting a non-violent campaign for Eelam, wanted to prove himself the worthy leader by achieving targets that Prabhakaran had failed to. There is evidence that he has been planning political assassinations by using surviving LTTE killers and hired guns in the underworld. (This may have prompted the government to launch a crackdown on the nether world of crime full of trained killers willing to make their services available to anyone for a fee.) He knew the government would be lulled into a false sense of complacency with the passage of time and its guard lowered accordingly.
Although there has been resistance from the LTTE old guard to KP's leadership as well as his style of running the organisation, had he succeeded in carrying out a high profile retaliatory attack with or without the LTTE's trademark, he would have been able to silence his critics and rally sympathisers for the cause in a bigger way. But, he also made a terrible miscalculation like Prabhakaran; he underestimated the government's ability to strike and overrated himself.
It behoves the government leaders to deny the LTTE rump an opportunity to spoil the country's victory over terrorism.
Sri Lanka has once again made a huge contribution to global democracy. Within less than three months of the elimination of the LTTE's military muscle, she has dealt a decapitating blow to the outfit's smuggling wing known as the KP Department responsible for gun running and drug distribution throughout the world. Ironically, her latest achievement has come at a time big powers that are all out to give her a bad name because she did not heed their requests to spare the LTTE leadership are showing signs of opting for appeasement by way of dealing with their terrorists. Now that little Lanka has, by decapitating the LTTE's smuggling wing, demonstrated to the world that terrorism could be effectively neutralized militarily, her critics in the international community, affected by terrorism, ought to emulate her.
The message that Sri Lanka has sent to the LTTE with KP's capture is loud and clear: In achieving their separatist goal, Tigers have the same chance as a cat in hell!