Malaysian police probing cash trail of suspects linked to Tamil Tigers

KUALA LUMPUR • Police are pursuing the money trail of arrested Malaysians linked to the banned Sri Lankan militant group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), or Tamil Tigers.

The police detected "big amounts" that had been transferred among the 12 suspects who were detained last week, said Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division head Ayob Khan.

"We believe such transactions to fund LTTE-related activities were conducted over a few years," he told The Star. "It is still too early in the investigation, but tracing such transactions, including bank accounts and recipients of the funds, is vital in our investigation into LTTE elements in Malaysia."

So far, investigations have revealed that the transactions occurred only within the country, but sources are not ruling out that international transactions have been made as well.

"For terrorism financing, the amount is not the main issue. The real offence is financing or helping terrorist groups by transferring funds," said Deputy Commissioner Ayob. "We've even detained those who donated RM100 (S$33) to terrorist groups."

Police believe that a non-governmental organisation (NGO) with branches nationwide has been actively securing funds for LTTE-related activities and to revive the terror group, he said, adding that between the 1980s and 2009, several NGOs were established in Malaysia to collect money and to channel it to the group.

"We have also made several arrests of LTTE elements over the years, including its leaders," said Deputy Commissioner Ayob. "One of the cases was a seizure of a shipment of weapons in Penang in the 1990s meant for LTTE fighters."

Last Thursday, seven men, including two Democratic Action Party assemblymen, were arrested for alleged links to the militant group. Then, on Saturday, the police detained five more men, including a 52-year-old teacher suspected of supporting and promoting the LTTE on social media.

 
 
 

Meanwhile, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has defended the police after Kepong MP Lim Lip Eng criticised the use of the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) in the nationwide crackdown on LTTE-linked elements.

"In the absence of alternative laws, Sosma can still be applied," Tun Dr Mahathir said yesterday.

He also said he is satisfied with the explanation given by the police. "The police have briefed me. They have reasons to take action. I am satisfied with the actions taken, and reasons given."

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 15, 2019, with the headline 'Malaysian police probing cash trail of suspects linked to Tamil Tigers'. Print Edition | Subscribe