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"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Home > Human Rights & Humanitarian Law > Armed Conflict & the Law > What is Terrorism? - Law & PractiseTerrorism: United States Law & Practise >  US Patterns of Global Terrorism Report, 2000 - excerpts related to Sri Lanka & LTTE > US & the Tamil Eelam Freedom Struggle

Terrorism: United States Law & Practise

US Patterns of Global Terrorism Report, 2000
excerpts related to Sri Lanka & LTTE

27 April 2001 

South Asia - Sri Lanka
Appendix A: Chronology of Significant Terrorist  Incidents, 2000
Appendix B: Background Information on Terrorist Groups - LTTE


The year 2000 showed that terrorism continues to pose a clear and present danger to the international community. From the millennium-related threats at the beginning of the year to the USS Cole bombing and the rash of hostage takings at the end, the year 2000 highlighted the need for continued vigilance by our government and our allies throughout the world. The tragic death of 19 US citizens at the hands of terrorists is the most sober reminder.

While the threat continues, 2000 saw the international community's commitment to counter terrorism cooperation and ability to mobilize its resources grow stronger than ever. As a result, state-sponsored terrorism has continued to decline, international isolation of terrorist groups and countries has increased, and terrorists are being brought to justice. Indeed, the vigilance of all members of the international community is critical to limiting the mobility and capability of terrorists throughout the world, and both we and the terrorists know it.

We base our cooperation with our international partners on four basic policy tenets:

  • First, make no concession to terrorists and strike no deals.
  • Second, bring terrorists to justice for their crimes.
  • Third, isolate and apply pressure on states that sponsor terrorism to force them to change their behavior.
  • Fourth, bolster the counter terrorist capabilities of those countries that work with the United States and require assistance.

These points have been the basis for international cooperation and the foundation for important progress.....

South Asia

.... In Sri Lanka, the government continued its 17-year conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which engaged in several terrorist acts against government and civilian targets during the year...

Sri Lanka

The separatist group the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) - re designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in 1999 - remained violent in 2000, engaging in several terrorist acts against government and civilian targets. LTTE attacks, including those involving suicide bombers, killed more than 100 persons, including Minister of Industrial Development Goonaratne, and wounded dozens. Two US citizens and a British national were apparent incidental victims of the group in October, when an LTTE suicide bomber cornered by the police detonated his bomb near the Town Hall in Colombo. The LTTE continued to strike civilian shipping in Sri Lanka, conducting a naval suicide bombing of a merchant vessel and hijacking a Russian ship.

The war in the north between the Tigers and the Sri Lankan Government continued, although by year's end the government had re-taken 70 percent of the Jaffna Peninsula. The Government of Norway initiated efforts to broker peace between the two parties and may have contributed to an LTTE decision to announce unilaterally a cease-fire in December.

Several terrorist acts have been attributed to other domestic Sri Lankan groups. Suspected Sinhalese extremists protesting Norway's peace efforts used small improvised explosive devices to attack the Norwegian-run charity Save the Children as well as the Norwegian Embassy. Sinhalese extremists also are suspected of assassinating pro-LTTE politician G. G. Kumar Ponnambalam, Jr., in January.

Appendix A: Chronology of Significant Terrorist Incidents, 2000


19 October 2000

Sri Lanka
In Colombo, a suicide bomber detonated the explosives he was wearing near the town hall, killing four persons and wounding 23 others, including two US citizens, according to press reports. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were probably responsible.

Appendix B: Background Information on Terrorist Groups

The following descriptive list of terrorist groups is presented in two sections. The first section lists the 29 groups that currently are designated by the Secretary of State as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs), pursuant to section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. The designations carry legal consequences:

  • It is unlawful to provide funds or other material support to a designated FTO.
  • Representatives and certain members of a designated FTO can be denied visas or excluded from the United States.
  • US financial institutions must block funds of designated FTOs and their agents and must report the blockage to the US Department of the Treasury.

The second section includes other terrorist groups that were active during 2000. Terrorist groups whose activities were limited in scope in 2000 are not included....

I. Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations


Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)

Other known front organizations: World Tamil Association (WTA), World Tamil Movement (WTM), the Federation of Associations of Canadian Tamils (FACT), the Ellalan Force, the Sangilian Force.


Founded in 1976, the LTTE is the most powerful Tamil group in Sri Lanka and uses overt and illegal methods to raise funds, acquire weapons, and publicize its cause of establishing an independent Tamil state. The LTTE began its armed conflict with the Sri Lankan Government in 1983 and relies on a guerrilla strategy that includes the use of terrorist tactics.


The Tigers have integrated a battlefield insurgent strategy with a terrorist program that targets not only key personnel in the countryside but also senior Sri Lankan political and military leaders in Colombo and other urban centers. The Tigers are most notorious for their cadre of suicide bombers, the Black Tigers. Political assassinations and bombings are commonplace. The LTTE has refrained from targeting foreign diplomatic and commercial establishments.


Exact strength is unknown, but the LTTE is estimated to have 8,000 to 10,000 armed combatants in Sri Lanka, with a core of trained fighters of approximately 3,000 to 6,000. The LTTE also has a significant overseas support structure for fundraising, weapons procurement, and propaganda activities.

Location/Area of Operations

The Tigers control most of the northern and eastern coastal areas of Sri Lanka but have conducted operations throughout the island. Headquartered in northern Sri Lanka, LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran has established an extensive network of checkpoints and informants to keep track of any outsiders who enter the group's area of control.

External Aid

The LTTE's overt organizations support Tamil separatism by lobbying foreign governments and the United Nations. The LTTE also uses its international contacts to procure weapons, communications, and any other equipment and supplies it needs. The LTTE exploits large Tamil communities in North America, Europe, and Asia to obtain funds and supplies for its fighters in Sri Lanka. Information obtained since the mid-1980s indicates that some Tamil communities in Europe are also involved in narcotics smuggling. Tamils historically have served as drug couriers moving narcotics into Europe.



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