U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District (Brooklyn)
Piratheepan Nadarajah and Suresh Sriskandarajah, two alleged operatives of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a Sri Lankan terrorist organization popularly referred to as the “Tamil Tigers,” was arraigned Thursday afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn following their extradition from Canada.
Nadarajah is charged with conspiring and attempting to acquire $1 million worth of anti-aircraft missiles, missile launchers and other military equipment, and conspiring and attempting to provide material support to the Tamil Tigers.
Sriskandarajah is charged with conspiring to provide material support to the group and dealing in the property of a specially designated terrorist group.
At the request of the U.S., Nadarajah and Sriskandarajah were previously arrested in Canada with a view to extradition, pursuant to warrants requested in the Eastern District of New York (headquartered in Brooklyn).
The charges were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Lisa O. Monaco, assistant attorney general for the National Security Division; George Venizelos, assistant director-in-charge, FBI, New York Field Office, and several other high-ranking officials.
According to the indictment, between July 1 and Aug. 19, 2006, Nadarajah and several co-conspirators engaged in negotiations with an
undercover FBI agent to purchase and export $1 million worth of high-powered weapons and military equipment for the Tigers, including 20 SA-18 heat-seeking, surface-to-air, anti-aircraft missiles, 10 missile launchers and 500 AK-47s.
Nadarajah and his associates allegedly attempted to acquire these weapons at the request of the group’s leaders in Sri Lanka. The anti-aircraft weapons were to be used to shoot down Kfir aircraft used by the Sri Lankan military.
The Tamil Tigers were founded in 1976 and use illegal methods to raise money, acquire weapons and technology, and publicize its cause of establishing an independent Tamil state in northern Sri Lanka. They began their armed conflict against the Sri Lankan government in 1983, often resorting to acts of terrorism.
Over the past 20 years, the group has conducted approximately 200 suicide bombings, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of victims, and carried out numerous political assassinations, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“As alleged, these two defendants were part of the cycle of sophisticated arms and large sums of money that fueled their terrorist organization. As Tamil Tigers operatives, the defendants were bent on procuring high-powered weaponry and high-tech equipment and designs for the LTTE, an organization that has waged a longstanding war of terror using suicide bombings that often targeted innocent civilians,” said U.S. Attorney Lynch.
“Our successful partnership with the FBI means that members of the NYPD work with their colleagues to intercept suspected terrorists before they strike,” said NYC Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.
If convicted of all charges, Nadarajah faces a minimum sentence of 25 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison. Sriskandarajah faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.
The investigation is being led by the Newark and New York Divisions of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, with assistance provided by more than 20 of the FBI’s field offices.