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10-05-08, 06:29

Country Reports on Terrorism 2007: South and Central Asia Overview - III Print

Friday , 09 May 2008

Sri Lanka

Approximately 5,000 people were killed and many thousands more displaced as the conflict escalated between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization. The Sri Lankan government took effective control of the Eastern Province in midyear, but the LTTE continued to control much of the north and carried out attacks throughout the country. The Sri Lankan Army remained deployed across the country in all areas it controlled to fight the insurgency. The Special Task Force (STF) police were deployed both in the east and in strategic locations in the west. Although a Cease-fire Agreement was nominally in effect, the level of violence rose to that associated with the period prior to the signing of the agreement in 2002.

The LTTE and government forces engaged in retaliatory attacks throughout the year. On November 28, an LTTE suicide bomber attempted to assassinate Minister for Social Services and Welfare Douglas Devananda. (This was at least the 11th attempt on the Tamil leader’s life.) On the same day, a parcel bomb killed at least 19 in a shopping area in southern Colombo. The likely perpetrator was the LTTE, although there is some public speculation that this may have been a criminal, rather than LTTE, attack. Other major LTTE attacks included attacks on the Anuradhapura Air Base (October); the first-ever LTTE attacks by air of Katunayake Airport and a gas storage facility in Colombo (March), the Palaly Air Force Base in Jaffna (April), and parcel bombings of two intercity buses in southern Sri Lanka (January). Many of these attacks appeared to have been reprisals for offensive actions taken, or at least alleged to have been carried out, by the Government of Sri Lanka, such as attacks on busses and villages and the air raid on November 2 that killed LTTE political chief S.P. Tamilchelvan.

A breakaway group from the LTTE, the Karuna Faction, was also responsible for extrajudicial killings and attacks against the LTTE and its alleged civilian supporters in eastern Sri Lanka. Its former leader, Karuna Amman, was arrested in London on charges of immigration fraud in November. A rival leader, Pillayan, has since consolidated control of the Karuna faction and displaced cadres loyal to Karuna.

The government took control of Sri Lanka’s eastern province by July, but was unable to move forward on elections, devolution of power, and economic development programs because of instability and the fragility of the national governing coalition. The LTTE maintained control of much of the north and retained the capacity to mount attacks throughout the country. In late November and December, government forces increased activity against targets in the north.

The LTTE continued to finance itself with contributions from the Tamil Diaspora in North America, Europe, and Australia, by imposing local "taxes" on businesses operating in the areas of Sri Lanka under its control, and reportedly by extortion operations in government-controlled areas. The LTTE also used Tamil charitable organizations as fronts for its fundraising. In November, the USG designated under Executive Order 13224 and froze the U.S.-held assets of the Tamils Rehabilitation Organization, a charity associated with the LTTE. The LTTE previously used such funds for weapons purchases on the international black market and also captured arms from Sri Lankan security forces. The Sri Lankan Navy sunk three LTTE supply ships in September and another in October.

Human rights groups and other observers have accused all parties to the conflict with carrying out abductions and extrajudicial killings. The LTTE and the Karuna faction were charged with forced conscription and child recruitment. In general, the LTTE did not intentionally target U.S. citizens or assets, limiting attacks to Sri Lankan security forces, political figures, civilians, and businesses. However, attacks occurred within the vicinity of the U.S. embassy and personnel; the U.S. Ambassador was traveling in a helicopter that came under mortar fire in February. The LTTE subsequently apologized for the incident.

Sri Lankan cooperation with the FBI resulted in arrests of persons charged with material support to terrorist groups. The U.S. provided training for relevant Sri Lankan government agencies and the banking sector. The Government of Sri Lanka cooperated with the United States to implement both the Container Security Initiative and the Megaports program at the port of Colombo.


As the poorest of the former Soviet countries, the Tajik government’s main impediment to counterterrorism remained its lack of resources. The government, particularly the Border Guards, lacked appropriate technical equipment, personnel, and training to effectively interdict illegal border crossings and to detect and analyze hazardous substances. As a result, Tajikistan could serve as a transit country for extremists and terrorists traveling to and from Afghanistan and Pakistan. The United States and other donors assisted the government of Tajikistan to secure its 1400 kilometer porous border with Afghanistan.

Assistance included a $5 million U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) radio program to improve Border Guard communications capability. DOD held four Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) sessions with Tajikistani security forces to improve their capacity to conduct counterterrorism operations. The U.S. Embassy administered training which included chemical weapons response and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) detection training. These programs will help Tajikistan stop potential terrorists who may attempt to cross the Tajikistani border, and will enable Tajikistan to better control its borders.

Tajikistan endorsed the joint U.S.-Russia co-chaired Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. In November, it hosted a regional conference to discuss with its neighbors more effective cooperation to counter WMD proliferation. The Tajikistani government also participated in regional security alliances, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Since September 11, 2001, the Government of Tajikistan has allowed its airspace to be used for counterterrorist actions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). Tajikistan prohibited extremist-oriented activities and closely monitored groups it listed as terrorist organizations, such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and Hizbut-Tahrir (HT). The Government of Tajikistan believed that HT, in particular, was active in the northern part of the country. Analysts believed that supporters of terrorist groups such as al-Qa’ida and the IMU were active in the region this year.

The Government of Tajikistan did not provide safe haven for terrorists or terrorist organizations. However, the country’s poor economic climate and repressive government policies to restrict Islamic religious practice provided conditions that religious extremists could exploit. Events occurred in Tajikistan that may have been terrorism-related. A small bomb exploded outside the Supreme Court on June 17, causing no injuries or serious damage, and another bomb detonated at a conference hall on November 14, killing one person. These incidents remained under investigation at year’s end.

Under the guise of fighting extremism, the Government of Tajikistan has taken increased measures against opposition parties in the country, particularly the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), the only legal Muslim opposition party in Central Asia.


Turkmenistan’s longtime president, Saparmyrat Niyazov, died in late December 2006, and it remained too early in the presidency of Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov to assess any change in the government's counterterrorism policy. The Government of Turkmenistan, while generally supportive of counterterrorism initiatives, increasingly was viewing counterterrorism through a domestic security lens and was receptive to international counterterrorism initiatives as they related to the country's effort to prevent terrorist activity on its own soil. The government cooperated with a variety of international organizations and partner countries in conducting counterterrorism training events for government personnel, including, for example, canine bomb detection training and professional seminars on terrorism and security studies.

While the government continued to strictly control access into and passage through Turkmenistan at official border crossings and along main roads, clandestine passage was still possible due to long and porous borders that stretch across mountain and desert terrain, as well as the small size and uneven quality of Turkmenistan's border guard and customs services. Turkmenistan's law enforcement and security agencies exert stringent security control over all aspects of society making it unlikely that Turkmenistan could easily be used as a terrorist refuge. The Government of Turkmenistan strictly controlled religious expression, and radical or extremist forms of Islam were not tolerated.

The government maintained a military-style counterterrorism unit with hostage rescue and explosives threat management capability, as well as a Department for the Prevention of Terrorism and Organized Crime in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The Government of Turkmenistan continued to support humanitarian assistance related to the War on Terror and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. The government entered the names of individuals and organizations on terrorist financing lists into its banking system.


The Government of Uzbekistan did not provide safe haven for terrorists or terrorist organizations and continued to work aggressively to combat terrorist groups and other suspected Islamic radicals. Nevertheless, widespread poverty and the government's repressive security policies created conditions that religious extremists could exploit. In the past, Uzbekistan's porous borders, particularly in the Ferghana Valley, allowed for people and illicit goods to move in and out of the country with relative freedom. The government responded to these threats with impressive tightening of border controls, especially in the Ferghana Valley and increased its cooperation with Kyrgyzstan. It did not, however, systematically address the conditions terrorists might exploit to gain popular support and recruits for their cause.

Supporters of terrorist groups such as the Islamic Jihad Group (IJG), the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), the IMU-affiliated East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), and other al-Qa’ida (AQ)-affiliated groups were active in the region, and terrorist groups in the region continued to target both the Government of Uzbekistan and western interests. Members of these groups expressed anti-U.S. sentiments and some have attacked U.S. interests in the past, including a 2004 suicide bombing at the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent conducted by the IJG. USG personnel and facilities continued to operate at a heightened state of alert.

In contrast with 2005, when the Government of Uzbekistan ended virtually all counterterrorism cooperation with the United States, there were a few modest steps in resuming cooperation. In November, the government of Uzbekistan extended for another year a protocol giving over-flight rights to commercial aircraft contracted by the Department of Defense, and permitted several over-flights of such aircraft in 2007.

Tashkent hosts the Shanghai Cooperation Organization's (SCO) Regional Antiterrorist Structure (RATS), which said it had both facilitated combined counterterrorism exercises among SCO member states and begun work on developing a coordinated terrorist database. Uzbekistan is also a member of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which said it held counterterrorism exercises and made progress in coordinating counterterrorism efforts.

Nonetheless, the Government of Uzbekistan did not participate fully in the SCO or CSTO exercises. The government increased its participation in counterterrorism-themed UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) programs, and took part in two out of three regional terrorism prevention activities organized by UNODC.


1 The list of Kazakstan’s fourteen banned terrorist organizations included al-Qa’ida, the East Turkistan Islamic Party, the East Turkistan Liberation Organization, the Kongra Gel/Kurdistan Workers’ Party, Asbat al-Ansar, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Taliban, Aum Shinrikyo, the Boz Gurd, Jamaat of Central Asian Mujahadins, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, the Social Reform Society, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and its splinter group, the Islamic Jihad Group.