Now it is open. Until recently Tamil Tigers managed to keep secret their very close link with Khalistan terrorists mainly the Khalistan Zindabad Font (KZF) - another banned terrorist group like the LTTE in USA and elsewhere - but not anymore. Today the two groups openly interact with one another, participate in protests of each other, join forces in their Diaspora camps, share terrorist links and synergies across the world and jointly breed hatred.
Khalistan movement is a violent campaign aimed at establishing a separate nation for a group of Sikhs who follow a particular teaching. Their fight is against the nation of India. As in the case with Tamil Tigers, it is not a race or ethnicity related issue but a political movement within a small percentage of people of a particular ethnic community. Like Tamil Tigers, support for the Khalistan movement is found mainly in the Diaspora today as most locals have rejected their separatist agenda.
The following details out the extent of similarities and therefore the avenues for synergies between the two groups. Diaspora Involvement In Insurgencies: Insights From The Khalistan And Tamil Eelam Movements by C Christine Fair, United States Institute of Peace, Washington, D.C., USA
Very strong coordination between Tamil nationalists and Khalistan nationalists in the past
Coordination is key to all terrorist activity. That is what differentiates a terrorist group from a band of robbers or serial killers. It also differentiates a terror group from a national army. All acts of a terror group are very well planned and coordinated. Timing is everything when it comes to coordination. Terror attacks are perfectly timed for maximum impact. Selecting targets to build upon a prevalent atmosphere of terror is the next strategy used by terrorists.
There is enough circumstantial evidence to indicate very strong coordination between armed Tamil nationalists and Khalistan nationalists. Khalistan nationalists are the pioneers and Tamil Tigers have been following them very closely building upon the channels to advance terror. In 1985 KZF blew up an Air India plane killing hundreds of civilians. It was one of few outright bombing of passenger airplanes without any hijack attempt. Tamil Tigers closely followed. In 1986 Tamil Tigers bombed an Air Lanka passenger craft just before take off. It is not about the closeness of the two events or the mere similarity of the two events but the coordination. Following the 1985 attack against the Air India plane, the Sri Lankan government was terrorised by Tamil Tigers of a similar attack which was eventually carried out in 1986. Tigers built upon an existing terror campaign targeting passenger planes.
KZF connected groups were involved in the killing of Indira Gandhi in 1984. LTTE copied it and killed her successor who happened to be her son, in 1991. President Premadasa killing was a copy of the 1984 attempt that used explosives instead of guns. Interestingly Rajiv Gandhi came to an agreement with Khalistan nationalists recognizing their traditional homeland claims just as he did with Tamil Tigers. In both cases those who were party to this agreement were killed by their respective terror groups. Another similarity was the Indian attempt to form new armed rebels sympathetic towards India. Tamil National Army (TNA) was a flop as both security forces and Tamil Tigers hunted them down. A similar thing occurred with the Khalistan movement when terrorists wiped out the parties to the agreement.
New ties between the two groups
It is no secret Tamil nationalists are disoriented today without their iconic leader whom they called Thalaivar. He managed the entire outfit through his trusted lieutenants. Secrecy was maintained at the highest order. But the current Tamil nationalist leadership has already blundered. In an unprecedented development Khalistan campaigners called upon the Indian government to release a Khalistani terrorist on death row along with three Tamil terrorists on death row.
Following this, the prominent Tamil nationalist mouthpiece – TamilNet – ascribed to this view which attracted attention of The Hindu.
TamilNet was quick to “clarify” the matter but in vain. By then it had already established the strong interrelationship the Khalistan campaign.
Recently the Indian police arrested three terror activists of the KZF in Tamil Nadu triggering fears of collusion which is now established beyond doubt. After the decimation of the LTTE, Tamil nationalists in the Diaspora not only followed the KZF Diaspora tactics but also joined forces with them. It is a very unlikely marriage but common misfortune has made strange bedfellows.
Following the recent New Delhi bombing, Indian security establishment stated the need to particularly investigate KZF and LTTE.
It is a step in the right direction. These two groups may reciprocally target each other’s enemies to avoid and mislead investigations. Sri Lankan authorities must be aware of this possibility.
India and Sri Lanka have divergent geopolitical interests as with all other countries. There are no two countries with identical geopolitical interests. Therefore, Sri Lanka and India should cooperate with destroying Tamil nationalists, Khalistan nationalists and Islamic fundamentalists as they pose grave national security threats to both nations.
These three instances are a few matters on which both countries agree one hundred percent.
Western interference must be perceived in the broader context of this triple terror threat facing the region. In other words, the region has more enemies than the west and not all enemies of the west are friends of the South Asian community. Western interferers manipulating the enemies of the region that cause no threat to the west is a strong possibility which should be kept under watch. Despite banning them, the west is not doing enough to cripple the LTTE and KZF for obvious reasons. They can be punished only through regional cooperation.
Only such a cooperative approach to common enemies work today. Noncooperation between nations is the best safetynet terrorists have. The strategic defence challenge is to identify specific partners for specific terrorist threats. After all, there are no long term friends or enemies in international relations; only strategic interests exist. These terror groups may attack Indian and Lankan interests overseas as well. Both countries should immediately clamp down on these triple terrorist groups and their inter-relationships.