Tamil Tigers headman Prabhakaran “killed”

Posted by: dtuladhar

Velupillai Prabhakaran

Velupillai Prabhakaran


AFP
COLOMBO, May 18 –
Sri Lankan Tamil Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, who was killed by soldiers on Monday, was feted as a “Sun God” by his supporters and branded as a ruthless megalomaniac by his opponents.

Few dispute he was one of the most effective guerrilla leaders in modern warfare — displaying the tactical prowess of Afghanistan’s Ahmad Shah Massoud, the ruthlessness of Osama bin Laden and the conviction of Latin American revolutionary Che Guevara.

In three decades of ethnic conflict aimed at carving out a separate Tamil homeland in the north and east, Prabhakaran managed to consolidate a de facto state and — until now — outsmart successive government offensives.

He terrorised the island and even neighbouring India, perfecting the recruitment and use of suicide bombers before Al-Qaeda existed. His fighters usually took no prisoners, and were notorious for assaults that left every single enemy soldier dead.

He was held responsible for the 1991 assassination of former Indian premier Rajiv Gandhi

He was held responsible for the 1991 assassination of former Indian premier Rajiv Gandhi, who in 1987 sent Indian troops to disarm the Tamil Tigers but ended up withdrawing his troops after years of jungle combat.

Prabhakaran’s killing apparatus also claimed the lives of Sri Lankan president Ranasinghe Premadasa in 1993, foreign minister Lakshman Kadirgamar in 2005 and countless mayors, police officials and army officers.

Interpol described him as a wanted terrorist with a “stout build” who was “very alert, known to use disguise and capable of handling sophisticated weaponry and explosives.”

He made few public appearances, but delivered a “Heroes’ Week” speech each November commemorating dead Tamil fighters.

“We will continue with our struggle until the alien Sinhala occupation of our land is evicted,” he vowed in his final address last year.

“We will continue with our struggle until the alien Sinhala occupation of our land is evicted,” he vowed in his final address last year.

Prabhakaran’s Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had their own army, navy and air force, built up by an international fundraising network and the use of sanctions-busting smugglers on ships and speedboats.

“His dedication to the cause of the Tamil Eelam (state) was unquestionable,” recalled former Tamil guerrilla Dharmalingam Sithadthan, now a politician.
“He was the only man in Sri Lanka who could decide if there should be war or peace.”

Sithadthan said Prabhakaran, 54, was neither mellowed by age nor by his family of three children.

Born on November 26, 1954 in the Tamil heartland of Jaffna, Prabhakaran was a guerrilla fighter for most of his life and presided over a war that has left at least 70,000 dead — roughly a third of whom were his own fighters.

The youngest of four children from a middle-class family, he went underground in 1972 as the head of a rag-tag band of brigands.

He claimed that he decided to take up arms after seeing Sri Lankan security forces harass Tamil civilians in the Jaffna peninsula.

He went on to attract thousands of young men and women to his army. Like the master himself, all LTTE cadres carried a cyanide capsule to commit suicide rather than be captured alive.

He enforced a strict code of discipline on his fighters, and banned smoking and drinking.

Prabhakaran’s fighters were conferred with military ranks only after their deaths and he built a cult of venerating the fallen. Every street corner in rebel-held territory became a monument to a Tiger “martyr.”

Despite earning terrorist status in the United States and Europe and being wanted in India, he was sought out by diplomats wanting to bring an end to Asia’s longest running civil war.

But when the island’s government lost patience with a Norwegian-brokered peace plan in 2007 and decided to defeat the rebels once and for all, Prabhakaran’s days were umbered.

Weakened by defections, the rebels lost control over the east and then the north.

In February, troops captured a two-storey air-conditioned bunker hidden in a coconut grove in Mullaittivu district — thought to be one of Prabhakaran’s main bases.

Pictures released at the time purported to show he left behind a stuffed tiger, a paintball gun and a bottle of cognac.

The Sri Lankan defence ministry said the resistance that troops had encountered in the final hours indicated he had chosen to fight to the last. But his death was ignoble. Defence officials said he was shot as he tried to escape in a small convoy of vehicles including a van and an ambulance. It was not the end he had sought.

“A Prabhakaran who fights and goes down will become a legend, at least to his people,”

“A Prabhakaran who fights and goes down will become a legend, at least to his people,” M.R. Narayan Swamy, one of his biographers, said before Monday’s news. “A Prabhakaran who runs away will be seen differently by even many of those who have supported him.”

Tamil Tigers headman Prabhakaran “killed” was last modified: May 18th, 2009 by dtuladhar

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