September 19: An internal power struggle has surfaced in the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) because of the terror outfit`s ailing supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran`s eagerness to appoint his eldest 22-year-old son Charles Anthony Seelan as his successor, an Indian newspaper reported today.
Prabhakaran, 52, is in a hurry to promote his son because he is no longer in the best of health. He is reportedly afflicted by hypertension and diabetes, The Times of India said.
The newspaper said there is growing discontent among top LTTE
functionaries over Prabhakaran`s plan to `anoint` his son as his successor.
Prabhakaran`s son is an aeronautical engineer. He returned to Sri Lanka from Ireland last year after procuring a degree in aeronautical engineering, and presently heads the LTTE`s air wing and computer unit.
Charles Anthony Seelan is believed to have played a key role in building the air wing, which surprised the Sri Lankan military with a daring night raid on Colombo airport a few months ago.
The daily quotes unnamed sources as saying that the LTTE is witnessing an urgly power struggle that is beginning to undermine Prabhakaran`s hitherto undisputed leadership.
The newspaper refers to a recent report on Sri Lanka by the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, a Singapore-based counter-ter rorism think-tank, which said a major rift within the LTTE is `a distinct possibility.`
The think-tank`s report said: `This is specially evident now that Prabhakaran has begun grooming the next generation of Tigers, a move which might cause resentment among the current commanders.`
The LTTE has until now been the only Tamil terrorist group to have survived major internal rifts. But, Karuna Amman`s rebellion in early 2004, recent military reverses including the fall of the East have clearly shown that Prabhakaran is not all that invincible.
The newspaper said Prabhakaran`s charisma within the LTTE seems to be on the wane now. It refers to the Sri Lankan defence ministry`s report on its website last month that eight LTTE tax collectors were executed by its leadership at Vattakachchi in Kilinochchi.
Pottu Amman, LTTE Intellgence Chief and the second most powerful man in the rebel outfit after Prabhakaran, had charged the executed officials with misappropriation of money.
The daily also refers to the power struggle between Pottu Amman and LTTE Political Wing Head SP Tamilselvam, and to the `removal` of LTTE Naval Chief Col Soosai `from the scene` to back its claim that the outfit is plagued by a power struggle amongst its senior leaders over the succession issue.