Dec 28, New York: Two Sri Lankan Tamil Tiger operatives based in Canada have been arraigned in a United State federal court in Brooklyn, New York Thursday following their extradition from Canada.
Piratheepan Nadarajah, 36, and Suresh Sriskandarajah, 32, alleged operatives of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), were arraigned Thursday (December 27) before United States Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn.
The two suspects have been fighting extradition in Canada since 2006 and earlier this month they lost the battle when the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed the orders to extradite them to the US to face charges against them.
Nadarajah is charged with conspiring and attempting to acquire US$1 million worth of anti-aircraft missiles, missile launchers, and other military equipment and conspiring and attempting to provide material support to the LTTE.
Sriskandarajah is charged with conspiring to provide material support to the LTTE and dealing in the property of a specially designated terrorist group.
Both suspects have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
According to a FBI statement Nadarajah and several co-conspirators have negotiated with an undercover FBI agent to purchase and export US$1 million worth of high-powered weapons and military equipment for the LTTE, including 20 SA-18 heat-seeking, surface-to-air, anti-aircraft missiles; 10 missile launchers; and 500 AK-47s.
Nadarajah and his associates have attempted to acquire theweapons at the direction of senior LTTE leadership in Sri Lanka, including Pottu Amman, and LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran. The anti-aircraft weapons were to be used by the LTTE to shoot down Kfir aircraft used by the Sri Lankan military.
According to court filings, Sriskandarajah and several co-conspirators have assisted a principal LTTE procurement officer to research and acquire aviation equipment, submarine and warship design software, and communications equipment.
Sriskandarajah has used students as couriers to smuggle prohibited items into LTTE-controlled Wanni region in Sri Lanka. He has also helped the LTTE launder its proceeds in the United States and elsewhere.
"As alleged, these two defendants were part of the cycle of sophisticated arms and large sums of money that fueled their terrorist organization. As Tamil Tigers operatives, the defendants were bent on procuring high-powered weaponry and high-tech equipment and designs for the LTTE," US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch said.
"They would stop at nothing to achieve their goals, even using students to smuggle prohibited items into Sri Lanka," she added .
If convicted of all charges, Nadarajah faces a minimum sentence of 25 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison, and Sriskandarajah faces a maximum sentence of 25 years of imprisonment. Bail hearings for the two men are scheduled for January 9.