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* Sri Lanka remains vulnerable to LTTE terrorist financing- US
Thu, May 1, 2014, 12:01 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Apr 30, Washington, DC: The Bureau of Counterterrorism of the United States Department of State says while South Asia remained a front line in the battle against terrorism last year, Sri Lanka is vulnerable to money laundering and terrorist finance.

The Department's Country Reports on Terrorism 2013 required to be submitted to the Congress says although no arrests related to terrorism were made in 2013, the Sri Lankan government remained concerned that the LTTE's international network of financial support was still functioning, According to the report released Tuesday, before its defeat in 2009, the LTTE had used a number of non-profit organizations for fundraising purposes. Sri Lanka continued its efforts to search for other financial links to the LTTE, even many years after the war ended to the extent that the search for terrorist financing was criticized as a utility to target legitimate political opponents of the government, the report noted.

Continuing to list the LTTE as a terrorist organization, the State Department noted that although there have been no known attacks in Sri Lanka that could verifiably be attributed to the LTTE since the end of the war, the LTTE's financial network of support continued to operate throughout 2013.

"The LTTE uses its international contacts and the large Tamil diaspora in North America, Europe, and Asia to procure weapons, communications, funding, and other needed supplies. The group employed charities as fronts to collect and divert funds for their activities," the report said.

"The Sri Lankan government continued to maintain a strong military presence in post-conflict areas and continued to voice concern about the possible re-emergence of pro-LTTE sympathizers," it said.

Although Sri Lanka is not a significant regional financial center or a preferred center for money laundering, several factors make the country vulnerable to money laundering and terrorist finance, the report noted.

Lack of transparent tender mechanisms in government projects, past experience with terrorism, tax evasion, and a large informal economy make the country vulnerable to illegal financing activities.

Due to the government's lack of progress in addressing the allegations of atrocities and violations of international law committed by both the government and the LTTE during the civil war, counterterrorism cooperation and training with the United States was limited in 2013. Also, Sri Lankan police did not participate in the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program in 2013.

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