The LTTE activists have been waging an intensive propaganda campaign in Canada to win the backing of politicians, the Canadian daily National Post said quoting a newly declassified intelligence report yesterday.
The LTTE has `spent considerable effort and resources in Canada and elsewhere` on a lobbying and advocacy campaign. `The main targets of the campaign in Canada have been the expatriate Tamil population, politicians and the general public,` the report by the federal government`s threat-assessment centre had said.
The report had been obtained by the National Post Tuesday after several Liberal MPs attended a ceremony on Monday honouring S.P. Thamilchelvan killed in an air strike.
The Toronto-area MPs who attended the commemoration for S.P. Thamilchelvan, said they were only there to urge peace, the National Post said.
It also said: The lobby campaign aims to portray the Tigers` independence struggle as legitimate, the intelligence report says. But it calls violence `central` to the guerrillas` strategy. `As well as conventional guerrilla warfare in Sri Lanka, the LTTE uses terrorist activities to achieve its goals.`
The report also says that in addition to political lobbying, behind the scenes the Tigers use more unsavory methods to advance their cause in Canada.
`The LTTE`s responses to external criticism and internal dissent have included beatings, death threats and smear campaigns in Canada and elsewhere, and specific and non-specific threats of harm against Canadian citizens and residents, their businesses and possessions, and their relatives in Sri Lanka,` the report says.
`Murders have occurred in other Western countries, but are not known to have occurred in Canada. Tamils who fail to support the LTTE have been labelled as `traitors.` ... Tamil victims have been reluctant to come forward to the police with regard to these activities due to their fear of retribution.`
The report was written by the Integrated Threat Assessment Centre, a federal agency based at Canadian Security Intelligence Service headquarters in Ottawa that monitors threats to Canada`s security.
A partly censored version was obtained by the National Post under the Access to Information Act. It was declassified on Oct. 30 -- three days before Thamilchelvan`s death. The full title was blacked out.
The Tigers are waging a civil war in Sri Lanka that seeks independence for the island`s ethnic Tamil minority. While the fighting is far from Canada`s shores, Toronto is home to the largest Sri Lankan Tamil population outside South Asia, and the Tigers operate a significant support network here.
`In Canada, the major activity of the LTTE and associated organizations has been fundraising in support of their efforts in Sri Lanka. It is estimated that 95% of the LTTE`s operational revenue is generated outside Sri Lanka,` the report says.
David Poopalapillai, national spokesman for the Canadian Tamil Congress, said yesterday he was not aware of efforts by the Tamil Tigers to lobby politicians in Canada.
`We [Canadian Tamils] do go after politicians, but LTTE, I have no evidence,` he said. `I`m not directed by LTTE or anybody else. I have my own conviction. I strongly feel the Tamils in Sri Lanka have been oppressed for a long time.`
Martin Collacott, a former Canadian high commissioner to Sri Lanka and a senior fellow at the Fraser Institute, said the Tigers are clearly trying to influence MPs.
`It is apparent that there is lobbying going on, and probably increasing lobbying,` he said. `I`m hardly surprised, and the mere fact that they`re operating so openly suggests that our effectiveness in dealing with terrorists and their supporters is still pretty limited.`
The Canadian government has dealt three major blows to the Tigers since last year: Ottawa outlawed the group under the Anti-Terrorism Act the RCMP raided the LTTE`s alleged fundraising fronts in Toronto and Montreal and police arrested several accused LTTE arms dealers.
`Each of these events has resulted in protests of its appropriateness, lobbying of politicians and others to reverse the actions taken, opposing propaganda, or claimed dissociation of LTTE-associated organizations from the persons directly involved,` the report says.