LTTE'S PROPAGANDA INFRASTRUCTURE AND LTTE'S EXPLOITATION OF NEW MEDIA TECHNOLOGY

 

 

 

LTTE's Propaganda Infrastructure and LTTE'S Exploitation of New

Media Technology

 

BY

 

DR. MAHINDA BALASURIYA

Grand Ph.D., (IUFS Russia), M.Phil., (Sri Lanka), B.Sc., (India)

INSPECTOR GENERAL OF POLICE (CHIEF OF POLICE)

SRI LANKA

 

 

 

"The Gravest danger to freedom Lies at the Perilous Cross Roads of Radicalism and Technology"                                               

-President George Bush-

 

Introduction

 

Propaganda is defined by the North Atlantic Alliance as any information, ideas, doctrines or special appeals disseminated to influence the opinion, emotions, attitudes or behaviour of any specified group in order to benefit the sponsor either directly or indirectly. (NATO Glossary of Military Terms, p. 2 - 205). Terrorism, in Grant Wardlaw's definition, is the use, or threat of use, of violence by an individual or a group, whether acting for or in opposition or established authority, when such action is designed to create extreme anxiety and / or fear-inducing effects in a target group larger than the immediate victims with the purpose of coercing that group into acceding to the political demands of the perpetrators. (Grant Wardlaw, Political Terrorism: Theory, Tactics, and Counter Measures, Cambridge University Press, 1982), p. 16.

 

Propaganda and terrorism are identical as they both seek to influence a mass audience in a way that is intended to benefit the sponsor. Yet while terror has a singular purpose - inducing fear and uncertainty - propaganda can and does serve every imaginable purpose from religion to politics to commerce. Terrorism is as the 19th century anarchists claimed, 'propaganda by deed': In Brain Jenkins more recent a formulation, it is a theatre. Terrorism may be other things as well, but there is no doubt about the very close links between these subjects. Indeed, terror might be seen as s sub species of Propaganda. (Maurice Tugwell, Terrorism and Propadanda: Problem and Response, Conflict Quarterly, Spring 1986).

It is indeed interesting to evaluate how terrorists, who - most of the time - fighting a guerilla warfare in jungles or deserts, bring their battle into cyber world. Technology has always been a tool of advantage for terrorism since its inception, and the internet-Information Technology (IT) in particular added a new dimension to their strategies, tactics and operations. 

It is no exaggeration to state that the presence of some Terrorist and Politically Violent Groups (TPVG's) on internet is equally aggressive, innovative and imposing as what they do on ground.  Whatever it may be, some of the TPVG's exploit the unique characteristics of internet such as anonymity, un-regulatory and easy accessibility to its maximum. 

The TPVG's are most of the time in dearth of reaching a wider audience which regularly, is denied my major media. Even if they were provided with space in prominent media, it is reported in the usual unbiased journalistic norms which are not to the liking of TPVG's. Thus, for obvious reasons they look for their own means of propaganda to make them prominent with their own spin to a wider audience at a minimal cost and also evading regulatory mechanisms. In this context, the 'Internet' becomes the most pragmatic option available for TPVG's. With tens of thousands of nodes with over 105 million hosts spanning over 220 countries around the globe and being visited by well over 605 million viewers,(www.nua.com/surveys) internet provides a better platform for these groups to operate in a relatively less vulnerable environment.

The inconceivable developments in Information and Communication Technologies are becoming the major driving force of the international and every other prominent elements of the 'global society'. The TPVG's are no different to this phenomenon. As in any other spectrum of the society, the information revolution is reshaping and advancing the nature of terrorism and other similar conflicts around the world. They tend to depend mostly on 'knowledge' with more emphasis on 'information management' and 'communications and information technologies' in their strategic and tactical operations.

During the past few years, specifically with the eruption of a new wave of violence in the Middle East and South Asia, the use of internet by extremist groups has become alarming. Arabic and Tamil language websites are highly being used for their proactive or offensive purposes. Hence, a study into the usage of New Media by the TPVG's is thought to be vibrant.

 

Mass Mediated Terrorism- Theory

What is the precise meaning of mass mediated terrorism? Starting with the Oxford English Dictionary's definition of violence as "the exercise of physical force so as to inflict injury or damage to persons or property", Sissela Bok defines media violence "the conveyance or portrayal of such exercises of force in the press or on the radio or the screen" and entertainment violence as including "forms of media violence offered as entertainment."(Bok 1998,6,7).These concepts proved useful in Bok's thoughtful Examination of the mass media's preoccupation with the most brutal cases  of violence ,whether they are presented "over and over again " in local and national news reporting or "reflected ,repeated ,and echoed in endless variations through the lens of entertainment violence "in motion pictures, TV movies, and novels (Bok 1998,6,7).

For the common criminal, the person he or she chooses as a victim is the target - for the terrorist, as Schmid and de Graaf have pointed out, the "immediate victim is merely instrumental, the skin of a drum beaten to achieve a calculated impact on a wider audience. As such, an act of terrorism is in reality an act of communication. For the terrorist the massage matters, not the victim."(Schmid and de Graaf 1982, 14).In order words, unlike common criminals, terrorist have the need to communicate in mind when they plan and stage their violence incidents; terrorists go out their way in other to provide the mass media with cruel, shocking, and frightening images. They execute premeditated terrorism that virtually assures a great deal of news coverage. (Brigitte L.Nacos, Mass - Mediated Terrorism, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, UK, 2007). p.14

 

  

 

While the term media terrorism captures terrorist's emphasis on communicating their deeds and causes, it could be misunderstood to mean a compliant role on the part of the media. In order to avoid such a misunderstanding, the term mass- mediated terrorism seems more appropriate, capturing the centrality of communication via the mass media in what I call the calculus of mass mediated political violence or the calculus of mass mediated terrorism. The idea here is that most terrorists calculate the consequences of their deeds, the likelihood of gaining media attention, and, most important, the likelihood of winning entrance - through  the media - to what I call the Triangle of political Communication (see figure above). In mass societies in which direct contact and communication between the governors and the governed are no longer possible, the media provide the lines of communication between public offices and the general public. Indeed, it has been argued that "politics is communication"(Hollihan 2001, chapter 1) and that:

Political communication is therefore the means by which people express both their unity and their differences. Through communication we petition our government, plead our unique and special interests, rally those who agree with us to our causes, and chastise those who do not share our views. (Hollihan 2001, chapter 9)

Groups and individuals who feel that they must communicate their causes and grievances precisely because they do not share the mainstream views may not get any access, or from their point of view, not enough access, to the mass media.

 

 Terrorism, counterterrorism, the Triangle of Political Communication, and the Internet

 

The notion of the news media as gatekeepers is useful in explaining the calculus of mass-mediated political violence (especially spectacular terrorist acts), the media will open their gates for all kinds of incident related reporting -including the well calculated messages that terrorists want publicized regardless of whether they claim responsibility for their acts or remain silent. The above figure indicates, when terrorists strike, their deed assures them the attention of the news media and, as a consequence, of the public and the government in their particular target country. Apart from the domestic setting, there is a global (international) triangle of political communication that works along the lines of domestic triangular links. In addition, the internet in particular allows groups and individuals to circumvent the gatekeepers of traditional media and communicate directly with their compatriots and, more important, with people around the globe. (Brigitte L. Nacos, 2007). 

 

Terrorists and Their Four Media - Centered Goals

·         As for terrorists, when they strike or threaten to commit more violence, they strive for the following very specific media- dependent objectives:

·         First, terrorists want the attention and awareness of various audiences inside and outside their target societies and thereby condition their targets for intimidation.

·         Second, terrorists want the recognition of their motives. They want the media and the public to explore the question: Why do they attack us?

·         Third, terrorists want the respect and sympathy of those in whose interest they claim to act.

·         Fourth, terrorists want a quasi-legitimate status and the same or similar media treatment that legitimate political actors receive.

 

The Attention /Awareness Goal

Closely tied to the terrorist goal of dominating (and even dictating) the content of breaking news is the desire to intimidate a targeted population so that the mere threat of more terrorism is likely to increase the anxieties of potential victims. Thus, excessive reporting on new threat warnings by terrorists, pessimistic threat assessments by public officials, and identifications of vulnerable terror targets by or in the media heighten public fears among heavy news consumers.

 

The Recognition Goal

For terrorists, winning the attention of the news media, the public, and government officials and intimidating their target audiences is not enough. They typically want their political causes publicized and their motives discussed. For this to happen the perpetrators do not necessarily have to do the explaining themselves - the media do it for them. Often, terrorists leave clues to point to their motives by striking on particular days or sticking to the same tactics.

 

The Respect and Sympathy Goal

Typically, terrorists claim to act on behalf of people outside their organizations who have been wronged by those in power. Whereas Timothy McVeigh was widely condemned for the bombing in Oklahoma City, some people in the United States and abroad expressed their admiration in communications with like-minded circles- for example, on Web sites. Others expressed sympathetic sentiments in letters to the death row inmate. The 9-11 attacks resulted in a great deal of sympathy for the nineteen terrorists aboard the hijacked planes and, even more so, for Osama Bin Laden's bold strike against the American superpower. Simply by demonstrating that he and his kind were able to land a catastrophic blow against the United States on its home turf, bin Laden conditioned a large number of young Muslim men -especially in the Muslim Diaspora in Western Europe- for recruitment in to his cause without ever meeting them.

 

The Quasi- Legitimate Status Goal

Wittingly or not, the news media bestow a certain status on terrorist leaders simply by interviewing them. The mere fact the terrorist is interviewed by respected media representatives and treated like a news source that is worthy of being part or serious public discourse elevates the person to the level of a legitimate political actor.

 

Teaching Terror through Showcasing Violence in the Media

One consequence of the opportunity to showcase their "propaganda of the deed" on a global scale is undoubtedly that terrorists in different parts of the world learn about and embrace the most successful methods of mass mediated terrorism.

Other terrorism methods found copycats as well. After terrorists in the Middle East beheaded a number of their kidnap victims in 2004, there were several copycat killings (or threats thereof) outside the Middle East, In Haiti, for example, the bodies of three headless policemen were found; they were victims of terrorists who explained their action as "Operation Baghdad"-a label that had no meaning in Haiti's civil strife except for the cruel method of killing deployed by terrorists and insurgents in Iraq. There was the beheading of Buddhist official in a village in Thailand that was described as an act of revenge for violence against Muslim rioters, and the brutal killing of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a self- proclaimed jihadi in the Netherlands who shot his victim and then tried to decapitate him. All of these perpetrators had recognized the shock value and media attractiveness of this particularly brutal terrorist method.

Finding "significant evidence of a contagion effect wrought by (news) coverage," Gabriel Weimann and Conrad Winn observed:

The suggestiveness of mediated terrorism operates on the minds not merely of the maladjusted but also on the minds of relatively normal. Same people may see the terrorist model as a plausible outlet for their sense of rational grievance. For suggestive normal people, mediated terrorism disseminates the precedence of violence and reinforces the sense of righteous anger. (Gabriel Wiemann and Conrad Winn, The Theater of Terror: Mass Media and International Terrorism, New York, 1994).p.217.

In essence, then, the uniquely public nature of mass-mediated terrorism allows individuals and groups worldwide to showcase and learn from what they deem effective terrorism tactics.  (Brigitte L. Nacos, 2007.p.23-24. 

 

The LTTE

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) of Sri Lanka is consistently rated as Asia's most ruthless and of the world's deadliest -terror groups by terrorism experts and international security organisations. The group has used conventional, guerrilla, and terror tactics in a bloody, two decade old conflict that has claimed over 60,000 lives and displaced hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankans. From the early 1970s, the group has developed in to a formidable fighting force having integrated a battlefield insurgent strategy with a terrorist program that targets key government and military personnel, the economy (the Central Bank and the Colombo World Trade Center), and public infrastructure (commuter trains , buses, oil tanks, and power stations).

The only terrorist organisation in the world to have assassinated two national leaders Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa in 1993 and Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 the LTTE is the pioneer in its brutal genre. It was the LTTE that pioneered the use of suicide vests and used them to carry out far more suicide-bomb attacks (over 200), than any other terrorist organisation. The LTTE was among the first terrorist groups to adapt new media technologies such as the Internet to aid in its propaganda, funding and recruitment drives with a sophisticated and networked presence on the World Wide Web that spans the globe, drawing on the resources of the well entrenched Tamil Diaspora abroad.

 

 

Publicity and Propaganda

The publicity and propaganda activities of the LTTE were run by V. Manoharan. Operating from a small office located in London, his main aim was to increase international political support for the Tamil cause by preaching a tireless threefold message:

  • Tamils are the innocent victims of a government dominated by Sinhalese.
  • Sri Lankan Tamils, constituting 12.5% of the population, are subjected to constant discrimination and military oppression.
  • The Tamils can never peacefully coexist with the Sinhalese in a single state.

There can be no peace in Sri Lanka until the Tamils, led by the LTTE, are granted their own homeland. (Rohan Gunarathna, Sri Lanka's Ethnic Conflict and National Securit, 1998) p.372. Manoharan headed a quasi-diplomatic LTTE organization that, as of May 1998, was thought to be composed of offices and cells located in at least 54 countries. The largest and most important centers are located in leading western states with large Tamil expatriate communities, most notably the UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, Canada and Australia. In addition to these states, the LTTE are also known to be represented in countries as far-flung as Cambodia, Burma, South Africa and Botswana.Most LTTE international propaganda tends to be conducted through politically sympathetic pressure groups and media units, the activities of which are coordinated through overarching umbrella front organizations. The most active bodies in this regard include the Australasian Federation of Tamil Associations; the Swiss Federation of Tamil Associations; the French Federation of Tamil Associations; the Federation of Associations of Canadian Tamils; the Illankai Tamil Sangam in the US; the Tamil Coordinating Committee in Norway; and the World Tamil Forum in the UK. The essential objective of this global structure is to harness political and economic support for the LTTE and its stated aim of creating a separate Tamil state of Tamil Eelam in northeastern Sri Lanka. While most efforts are directed towards particular Tamil Diasporas, the LTTE is also known to have lobbied politicians and human-rights activists.

The LTTE international propaganda war is conducted at an extremely sophisticated level and far more so than any counter-campaign that the Gosl has, hitherto, been able to organize.“Diplomatic” missions receive daily faxes detailing selective battlefield reports transmitted directly from Sri Lanka via satellite phone links. The group also puts out graphic videos, pamphlets and calendars showing, in gut-churning detail, the results of government air and military strikes against LTTE strongholds. In addition, considerable use was made of the Internet as a communications tool. The group has established several well-run Web sites with “hot links” and other “jump-off points” that are networked to internationally renowned humanitarian and development agencies.

(http://www.cantam.com/tamil/general.html and http:/www.powertech.no/jeyamark/tnews/tamilnet.html).

“Peace” is a banner under which the LTTE continuously campaigns internationally. The slogan has been used effectively to attract several non-governmental organizations to side with the LTTE struggle in Sri Lanka. Prominent examples include the Canadian Relief Organization for Peace in Sri Lanka (CROPL), the International Educational Development Inc. (IED), (Karen Parker, 53 Un Human Rights Commission, 1997), the World Council of Churches; the Australian Human Rights Foundation; the International Human Rights Group; the International Federation of Journalists; Pax Romana; the International Peace Bureau; the International Human Rights Law Group; and the Robert F Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights.(Rohan Gunaratne, LTTE Fundraisers Still On the Offensive, Jane's Intelligence Review, December 1997). Gaining the support of such groups by playing the “peace card” has been extremely beneficial to the LTTE. By publicly demonstrating the support the group has received from prominent NGOs around the world, the LTTE believed it had succeeded in internationalizing their cause and legitimizing the claim for an independent state of Tamil Eelam.

Some of the setbacks the LTTE have suffered in their global propaganda campaign were Washington’s decision to include the group in the State Department’s 1997 list of proscribed international terrorist organizations and the EU following suit. The inclusion did additionally prompt other states to review their own practices with regard to the legality of LTTE publicity activities. In the UK, for instance, which for many years has acted as the traditional stronghold of LTTE international propaganda, new laws were drawn up which will made  incitement of terrorism in Sri Lanka (and elsewhere), either through publicity or fund-raising in Britain, a criminal offense. New powers to ban foreign “terrorist groups” altogether were also introduced. (To Catch a Tiger, The Island news paper 25 May 1998). 

Nevertheless, the extent of these obstacles should not be overstated. Many states in which the LTTE operated lacked any type of legal infrastructure for identifying a group as terroristic. Countries such as Norway, Sweden and Australia, for instance, had no statutory provisions for proscription similar to those existing in the US and Canada. Moreover, even in instances where legal stipulations of this type do operate, it has been relatively easy for the LTTE to bypass them by operating through cultural and social cover/front offices. In Canada, numerous organizations remain actively involved in publicity campaigns aimed at politicizing the Tamil Diaspora in support of the LTTE cause although this may change if new legislation is, in fact, passed by Parliament. There is no reason to believe that similar loopholes will not underscore the UK’s proposed new anti-terrorist measures. Indeed, any new law will probably only affect showcased LTTE offices such as Eelam House, effectively allowing the group to continue to work through other premises operating under different names.(Rohan Gunaratne, LTTE Fundraisers Still On the Offensive, Jane's Intelligence Review, December 1997).

 

Rationale for the importance of an analysis of LTTE

The LTTE's use of the Internet and other new media and communication technologies as an integral part of its campaign represents an emerging security issue in the region. Terrorism is increasingly finding a place in the international discourse on nontraditional security. International terrorism is emerging as a critical security issue in Asia in particular with the recent terrorist attacks in Indonesia and the growing evidence of networked terrorist activity in the entire region. As the information revolution extends and deepens its impact in the region, and more Asians than ever have access to networked computers, the use of the internet by terrorists and insurgents demands the attention of academics and analysts across the world.

 

More critical to the rapidly developing technological environment in the region are the long terms implications of the strategic and tactical operational innovations pioneered by LTTE, including the transnational network operations, the networked internet presence and the consistently innovative terrorist strategies that will linger long after the LTTE fades from memory.

 

Securitization of Internet

In the light of the expanding online networks of terrorist groups and immediate and foreseeable threat they represent both to the sovereignty of nations and the security of the critical and informational infrastructures, the case for securitization of the internet is a valid and urgent one. This paper will use the case study of the online network of the LTTE to demonstrate how online networks pose a security threat and how securitization of the LTTE and its security implications it is important to ground such a discussion within the framework of securitization and examine its relevance in contemporary practice.

 

Terrorism in Asia

Terrorism in Asia is not a new phenomenon. The world's oldest ongoing insurgency, the Moro rebellion is still active in the Philippines. Other nonstarter actors active in the region include the Jemaah Islamiyah in Indonesia and Malaysia, the various pro Pakistan groups operating in Kashmir, the Maoist insurgency in Nepal, Aum Shinrikyo in Japan, Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines, the Uighurs in China, and the LTTE in Sri Lanka. Many of these groups have linkages to each other. Such transnational linkages cut across religious and political ideologies and geographic, ethnic and linguistic boundaries. Al Quaeda's linkages in the region are well documented in several instances, and are a critical element of any analysis of terrorism in the region (S. Reeve The New Jackals: Ramzi Yousef, Osama bin Laden and the Future of Terrorism, London: Andre Deutch, 1999.Also see R. Gunarathna, inside Al qaeda Global Network of terror, UK: C.Hurst and Co., 2002)Just as Al Qaeda transfers funds and training to other groups in the region it also enable the percolation of its technological knowhow and communications strategies to its allies and franchisees. While Al Qaeda retains the centre stage on the international scene, it is a relatively recent phenomenon in the region, compared to the LTTE of Sri Lanka.

 

Terrorism and the Information Revolution

To understand the significance of the regional security threat posed by the LTTE it is necessary first to examine the relationship between terrorism and new media technologies. The information revolution in Asia offers terrorist groups the same benefits and advantages that it extends to business enterprises in the region. Increased globalization and rapid absorption of new media technologies in to business practice has enabled the ongoing dynamic economic environment in many Asian nations. Just as business corporations in Asia are adapting their tactical and operational strategies to make the best use of new technology and the emerging global economy, extremist groups are doing the same. The rapid expansion of networked computers, internet café's, mobile phone services and other new media technologies is enhancing transnational linkages across the board.

Transnational networks have existed long before the internet- ancient Diasporas such as the Roma and the Jewish Diasporas have always formed networks to exchange information and goods. Terrorist groups have also maintained international networks long before the emergence of modern media technology. The LTTE's transnational networks date back to the early eighties with its reach extending through south Asia, eastern and Western Europe and North America to procure arms, smuggle narcotics and even trade in illegal aliens. (For comprehensive accounts of the LTTE's international networks and the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka see the works of Rohan Gunarathna on the LTTE, including Sri Lanka's Ethnic Conflict and National Security , South Asian Network on Conflict Research,1998.). An emerging body of literature is documenting the growing use of new media technologies such as the internet, digital media technologies such as digicams and CD ROMs and satellite communications systems. This emergent trend complements the traditional use of media by terrorists. Publicity has always been a central goal of terrorists, and they use the media to publicize their action to the widest possible audience to create the maximum fear and confusion; to mobilize support and public opinion and to aid recruitment and fundraising. (B. Hoffman, Inside Terrorism, London; Victor Gollancz, 1998, p.131.Also see Paul Wilkinson, 'Media and Terrorism- A reassessment', Terrorism and political violence, Vol, 19, No 2, Summer 1997, p.51-6)

Besides using the Internet to spread propaganda, terrorist can be said to use the internet for the following:

a)    Intra and Inter group communication

b)    Linking Diasporic group to militant networks

c)    Framing new and actions

The internet allows terrorists to tailor audience specific messages for specific audience. Many LTTE Tamil language sites carry images and text tailored specifically for Tamil audience. Alph's Japanese language sites have more in common with the Aum shinrikyo of old that it is trying to publicly disassociate itself from, than its English language site which is focused on distancing itself from the crimes of its erstwhile leader- Asahara. The Islamic Jihad Web site which is available in English and in Arabic uses a similar ploy. The English site is a propaganda site which does not dwell on the group's bloody exploits. But the Arabic site is paean to martyrs, or shahids, who during attacks on Israelis. (T. Llightly and S.Fraklin, Activist targets Jihad's Web site, January 5, 2003).

 

The LTTE Network

LTTE's international propaganda machinery, previously coordinated through its main office in London, is now primarily centered on its online campaign through a vast interlinked network maintained by LTTE members and members of the Tamil Diaspora all over the world. The emergence of the Internet however, has enabled the group to continue to coordinate its key propaganda network from bases in the western world, which are critical, both in terms of providing the LTTE with the critical technological public opinion focused on its political campaign. It also enables the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora which lives in large numbers in Western countries to effectively participate and extend the LTTE's own propaganda campaign.

The LTTE's formidable online presence is a virtual Tamil Eelam online. The group's main website eelam.com claims:

"The Tamil people of the island of Ceylon (now called Sri Lanka) constitute a distinct nation. They from a social entity, with their own history, traditions, culture, language and traditional homeland. The Tamil people call their nation Tamil Eelam."(Available at http;//www.eelam.com)

Diaspora Sri Lankan Tamils can now read Eelam newspapers; listen to Eelam Radio; mail Eelam e cards showing Eelam maps and flags to friends on festive occasions; listen to tapes of their 'national leader's speeches; and refer to online yellow pages and web directories for information on Eelam Tamils. Online newsgroups and e forums on Tamil websites offer a platform for discussions on the Tamil struggle for a separate state and a showcase for the history, culture, traditions and politics of the Tamils of Sri Lanka. In addition to the websites hosted by the LTTE, pro LTTE and pro Eelam sites, personal homepages maintained by expatriate Tamils in cities and universities across the western world provide virtual Eelam and its citizens a dynamic and very visible presence on the World Wide Web. So visible and vibrant that Sri Lankan Tamils are said to 'inhabit cyberspace Eelam.'

 

LTTE Online

Eelam Web Com, one of the main LTTE sites, claimed that it "is aimed at rebuilding Tamil Eelam, the traditional home land of the Tamils, which has been ravaged by the genocidal policies that have been undertaken by successive Sinhala dominated Sri Lankan governments."

Another site, http//www.infoeelam.com/aboutus.htm, described as the 'Gateway to Tamil Eelam,' claims," Our main mission here to promote Tamil Eelam to the World Stage and to act as a central source of Tamil Eelam related information to all of our people". http;//www.tamilmaravan.com/ is a site dedicated to the members of the LTTE who died either in suicide bombing missions or other more militaristic campaigns against the Sri Lankan army. 11443 Tamil 'martyrs' are named on this site and there are almost as many photographs of the dead. Other similar sites include: http;//thamileelam.org, http;//www.eelamnation.com/, Tamilpower.com and Sangam.org.

In keeping with its claimed status as a 'nation' Eelam (or the LTTE) maintained a 'government' presence on the through sites such as that of the LTTE peace Secretariat at http;//www.lttepeacesecretariat.com which puts out 'communiqués' intended to keep aloft the nation that the LTTE really wanted peace and that war has been forced upon it by the action of the Sinhala majority government, www.teedor.org/ is the site of the Tamil Eelam Economics Development Organization, representing various administrative departments Eelam Economic development Organization, representing various administrative departments of Eelam, to be implemented on the ground when Eelam becomes a physical reality. By many accounts Teedor is also a semi operational in LTTE controlled territory in Northeast Sri Lanka, although many believe such bodies are only a fundraising front for the LTTE war chest (Rohan Gunarathna, Sri Lanka's Ethnic Conflict and National Securit,1998).; Teedor's departments include Hardware, software, Tamil Software, Energy, and Agriculture. Animal Husbandry, Commerce and Energy. Other sites in this category include those of other, smaller organizations operating under the broader 'Tamil' umbrella such as that Student Organizations of the World Tamil Movement site available at; http://www.mediaicon.com/sowtm/tamil-eelam.htm.

 

Tamil Diaspora Sites

The Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora is an important element in the LTTE's political and military campaign. Commentators and observers of the LTTE and its campaigns have frequently pointed out the significant role played by the Diaspora in funneling funds to the LTTE campaign and often functioning as active nodes in the extended LTTE network. (B.Nichiporuk, The security Implications of Demographic Factors, RAND Corp, 2000. pages 21-23.available at (http://www.rand.org/publications/MR/Mr1088/MR1088.html.) The Diaspora's contribution to the LTTE's online network is no less significant.

Tamilcanadian.com, which describes itself as a site for then 'History and culture of Tamils of Tamil Eelam is one of the dominant Diaspora sites'. Talking Point, is a popular and highly active Diaspora discussion group hosted on the Tamilcanadian.com site, Where a board spectrum of expatriate Tamils from across the globe comment and discuss a variety of issues pertaining to the politics of Sri Lanka. (Subramanian, 2000).IT is regarded as among the most influential of the Diaspora sites. Others include: http: //www.eelam.dk. (Denmark), www.tamilnet.net.au (Australiya), and tesoc.com/(Tamil Eelam Society of Canada).

The Internet has been an important medium for Sri Lankan Tamils abroad as the media in Sri Lanka is government controlled and through the ethnic conflict both local and international media have been subjected to strict censorship. The Internet has emerged as an important vehicle for the LTTE top circumvent such censorship and put its own version of the war and simultaneously it enables the Tamil Diaspora top receive news from Tamil rather than Sinhalese, or perceivably pro-government news sources.   This quest for news from home has driven the Diaspora Tamils to be innovative in their pursuit of news sources and channels. The Tamil network had a plethora of sites and technologies to choose from-audio print and video news is available round the clock from a variety of sources, many sites use the latest MP3 technology Information out of Jaffna, the heart of Tamil capital, and the center of the war zone.

News thus channeled is distributed through the vast Tamil online network in various forms. Eelam.s5.com is a comprehensive media site featuring links to Tamil newspapers, Tamil radio and the Tamil Internet.Tamilwebradio.com is a wholly audio site featuring news, speeches of Tamil leaders and Eelam songs. Jaffnanews, available at: http://www.jaffna.freehomepage.com, named after the capital of the Tamil northeast, is another news based site. In addition, there are several Tamil newspapers online which have names and formats similar to mainstream newspapers in their host countries which also provide news from home and updates on the war in addition to local information pertaining to the cultural life of Diasporas. These include:www.tamil Guardian.com Online and the Tamil Tribune at http://www.geocities.com/tamiltribune.

Besides a network of general sites that link tamils across the globe such as Tamilcyber and jaffnatamils online or colombotamils online, there are numerous sites pertaining to the life of the Diaspora in the host country, highlighting the culture of Tamils, their history, entertainment, and social life. These sites serve to reinforce a sense of community and belonging among the dispersed Tamils and linking and cross-linking across political and geographic boundaries. They also serve up the visual and tangible symbols of Eelam eagerly sought after by immigrant communities yearning for home. These include information sites featuring directories and links for Tamils living abroad, online stores selling Eelam and LTTE memorabilia, from posters, cards, audio and video tapes, flags and T-shirts; to sites dedicated to Eelam music, or e-cards. (Shyam Tekwani, The LTTE's Online Network and its Implications for Regional Security, Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, Singapore, 2006).

 

Some of the Sites:

www.yarl.com/ecards/gbrowse.php?cat_id=14. This was a store selling e-cards with pictures of Prabhakaran, and other living and dead leaders of the LTTE such as Kittu, Maps, Flags, and LTTE soldiers in fetching fatigues. www.maxpages.com/eezamnation/ EelamSings was dedicated to patriotic and propagandistic songs on Tamil culture and the Eelam struggle which one can listen to and download online.

http:/www.tamiltigers.net/eelambooks/flyers/flyers_about_tamil_eelam.htm is another propaganda site selling books and pamphlets on Eelam and the LTTE and the Tamil movement. Eelavar Networks is a directory service serving as an online directory fro Tamils. Its slug line is "Changing the way eelavar communicate" and consists of a Yellow pages listing of Tamils as well as an international Web Directory on Tamils and Tamil links. Besides the above listed major sites there are several tamil language sites which offer similar variations of the English language sites to a staunch Tamil audience. These include sites such as: http://tamilhistory.hypermar.net/eelam.htmal; Eelathamilar.com; Thamilnaatham.com; Digitamil.cjb.net; and Thamileelam.dk.

The political implications of an insurgency such as the LTTE's have been discussed for some years now. There is an abundance of literature on the implications of a separate Tamil state to the political stability of the region and that of Sri Lanka, if such a time were to come to pass. (Ethnic A useful starting point is K. Jayawardhane, Conflict in Sri Lanka andRegionalSecurity, 1987, http://www.infolanks.com/org/srilanka/issues/kumara.htm). What is less discussed is the implication of the online network of the LTTE. The LTTE's pioneering use of the internet in Asia; South Asia in particular is an emerging security issue in a region that is experiencing a significant government driven surge in Internet connectivity, without a parallel development of a legal framework to deal with such issues.

 

Conclusions

Asia is an emerging hotbed for terrorist activity. Besides the Middle eastern and Afghan groups who have links with various Islamic groups in the region such as the MILF and the Abu Sayyaf in Philippines, the JI in Indonesia and Malaysia, there are the south Asian groups such as the pro-Pakistan Kashmir groups operating out of Pakistan and the LTTE in Sir Lanka who also have a regional presence through their arms procurement and other networks. All these regional groups are also extensive users of media technology, new and old. From websites and email to sophisticated audio and video enhancements of online presentations, these groups are investing considerable expertise and effort on their new media dimension. In the current environment where transnational organizations transfer knowledge and technology know-how may well become routine exchanges between groups. These exchanges of propaganda, technology, training and funds are serving to fuel terrorist activity in the region. As Post et al pointed out, every new innovation in terrorism from car-bombs to suicide bombs have quickly spread through the world, with groups adopt at copying each other and adapting to new trends. (J.M. Post, G.R. Ruby and E.D. Shaw, Car Bombs to Logic Bombs, the Growing Threat of Information Terrorism, terrorism and Political Violence, Vol.12, No2. Summer 2000, pp 97 -122). The LTTE was one of the first groups, both in the region and across the world who maintained a web presence, and used the Internet in a variety of ways.

Traditionally, security has been defined as military defense of territory, within a state system whose chief characteristic is a completion for security based upon (primarily military) power. This concept has evolved in recent years to include, apart from the conventional military and political issues, a variety of economic, social and environmental issues, broadly defined under the umbrella of non-traditional security. Terrorism is now regarded as a non-traditional security issue, and in the current global environment is a pre eminent issue of concern. However, in this era of globalization, and multilayered economic, social and political linkages enabled beyond geographical, cultural and political boundaries by the Internet and other new media and communication technologies spawned by the ongoing information revolution, the Internet itself is emerging as a security issue. The Internet also emerges as a key vulnerability, spawning a variety of security issues-related to the vulnerability of computerized societies to internet enabled crime. With its potential for various uses by terrorist for inter and intra group communications and propaganda as outlined above, and the envisaged scenarios of cyber terrorism in the future, to hacking, spamming, unleashing of viruses, invasion of databases and critical infrastructure linked to the Internet, exposes key vulnerabilities of individuals, corporations and nations. Especially in Asia where the legal and policy framework consistently lags behind the government driven drive towards Internet expansion.

Experts predict that it is a matter of time before terrorists raised in the information culture and well versed in its technological aspects use a combination of computer borne and on the ground guerrilla tactics to amplify the damages in their attacks. Ciluffo and Gergely term this a 'synergistic attack'. (F.J. Ciluffo and C.H. Gergely, Information Warfare and Strategic terrorism, Terrorism and political Violence, Vol, 9, No. 1 Spring, 1997, p 84 - 89 ).Visualize a 9/11 scenario where an attack on the twin towers is carried out in concert with a virus or a hacking attack into the power grid or emergency services database of New York city. The resulting disaster would have been multiplied tenfold.

In addition the LTTE has also ventured into cyber crime on occasion. The LTTE has used the Internet to hack into Sri Lankan government networks in 1997, the first recorded use internet terrorism in the world by any conventional terrorist group. (D. Denning, Internet and Terrorism, Carnegie Endowment for Peace, Lecture Series: Balancing National Security and Civil Liberties in an age of Net Worked Terrorism, http://www.ceip.org/files/ events/events.asp). A wing of the Tamil Tigers calling itself the Internet Black Tigers bombarded the Sri Lankan embassy and consulate networks with junk e-mails, up to 800 per day. This cyber-terrorist attack, which swamped embassy computers for two weeks, is reputedly the first ever reported by US intelligence officials. The LTTE is also reported to have used the Internet for criminal profit, as evidenced by the University of Sheffield case, which exposes the more serious issue of internet identity theft by terrorists. The Tigers were able to hack into Sheffield University in England in 1997, and use the university computer system to send their propaganda and to engage in fund raising. And they did it in a covert manner. Because they were able to capture legitimate user IDs and passwords of some well-respected academics of the university and then disseminate e-mail communications around the world, they used those legitimate e-mail accounts and asked people to send money to a charity in Sri Lanka. (Michael Vatis, Deputy Asst. Director, FBI, Cyber Terrorism and Information Warfare, Transnational Publishers Inc, 2001). The LTTE is nothing if not a trend setter in tactics.

Securitizing this issue invests it with a certain urgency, which creates the political environment to enable a better allocation of manpower and resources to tackle the issue at the government level. It will propel multilateral action at an international level to initiate a legal framework to protect nations and their computer networks, which are multiplying and expanding at a rapid rate, even as they protect people's right to privacy and information. It is not only propaganda that needs to be addressed but also the manner in which groups' network with each other to exchange tactics, and variety of information on everything from safe house to weapons procurement to bomb making information. The Internet is a network without geographical boundaries, internet enabled terrorism can only be tackled by a multilateral, multinational approach that transcends national boundaries. Nations are co-operating internationally to destroy terrorist networks on the ground. Online networks are no less threatening.

The Internet and its use by terrorists in their campaigns, both as a tool of communication and propaganda and a target of terrorist attacks is only beginning to be discussed in academic circles. Most such discussions focus on scenarios of cyber terrorism and envisage coordinated attacks on critical computer infrastructures and data bases that are seen as having the potential to cripple governments and databases. (Dorothy Denning, Activism, Hacktivism and Cyber terrorism: the Internet as a Tool for Influencing Foreign policy, Sponsored by nautilus Institute, Falle 1999, http://www.nautilus.org/info-policy/workshop/papers/denning.htmil). Such attacks are more likely in highly developed societies more dependent on computer systems. It may happen in the future as youth who are products of a technology driven culture are inducted into the ranks of terrorists. (J.M. Post, G.R. Ruby and E.D. Shaw, Car Bombs to Logic Bombs, the Growing Threat of Information Terrorism, terrorism and Political Violence, Vol.12, No2. Summer 2000, pp 97 -122). End.

 

Research Assistants

The following research assistants approved by the IUFS assisted me to prepare this article.

(i)           A.R.Waidyalankara   (M.Sc., LLM, LLB, Attorney-at-Law)

Senior Superintendent of Police

Director / Crimes, Police Headquarters,

Colombo 01, Sri Lanka.

(ii)          B.Mahil Dole

Senior Superintendent of Police

Staff Superintendent to I.G.Police

Police Headquarters, Colombo 01

        Sri Lanka.

 

Abbreviations

1.    GoSl               -          Government of Sri  Lanka

2.    FBI                 -          Federal Bureau of Investigations

3.    IED                -          International Educational Development Inc

4.    UN                  -          United Nations

5.    NGO               -          Non Governmental Organisation

 

Bibliography.

(J.M. Post, G.R. Ruby and E.D. Shaw, Car Bombs to Logic Bombs, the Growing Threat of Information Terrorism, terrorism and Political Violence, Vol.12, No2. Summer 2000, pp 97 -122.

1.    Michael Vatis, Deputy Asst. Director, FBI, Cyber Terrorism and Information Warfare, Transnational Publishers Inc, 2001.

2.    D. Denning, Internet and Terrorism, Carnegie Endowment for Peace, Lecture Series: Balancing National Security and Civil Liberties in an age of Net Worked Terrorism, http://www.ceip.org/files/events/events.asp.

3.    F.J. Ciluffo and C.H. Gergely, Information Warfare and Strategic terrorism, Terrorism and political Violence, Vol, 9, No. 1 Spring, 1997, p 84 - 89.

4.    Ethnic A useful starting point is K. Jayawardhane, Conflict in Sri Lanka andRegionalSecurity,1987,http://www.infolanks.com/org/srilanka/issues/kumaran.html.

5.    B.Nichiporuk, The security Implications of Demographic Factors, RAND Corp, 2000. pages21-23. (http://www.rand.org/publications/MR/Mr1088/MR1088.html.

6.    B. Hoffman, Inside Terrorism, London; Victor Gollancz, 1998, p.131.Also see Paul Wilkinson, 'Media and Terrorism- A reassessment', Terrorism and political violence, Vol, 19, No 2, Summer 1997, p.51.

7.    S. Reeve The New Jackals: Ramzi Yousef, Osama bin Laden and the Future of Terrorism, London: Andre Deutch, 1999. R. Gunarathna, Inside Al Qaeda Global Network of Terror, UK: C.Hurst and Co., 2002).

8.    Rohan Gunaratne, LTTE Fundraisers Still On the Offensive, Jane's Intelligence Review, December 1997.

9.    To Catch a Tiger, The Island news paper 25 May 1998. 

10.http://www.cantam.com/tamil/general.html, http:/www.powertech.no/jeyamark/tnews/tamilnet.htm).

11.Gabriel Wiemann and Conrad Winn, The Theater of Terror: Mass Media and International Terrorism, New York, 1994.p.217

12.Brigitte L.Nacos, Mass - Mediated Terrorism, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, UK, 2007. p.14 

13.NATO Glossary of Military Terms, p. 2 - 205

14.(Grant Wardlaw, Political Terrorism: Theory, Tactics, and Counter Measures, Cambridge University Press, 1982), p. 16.

15.(Maurice Tugwell, Terrorism and Propaganda: Problem and Response, Conflict Quarterly, Spring 1986).