|Confessions of a Black Tiger bomber|
|Monday, 16 February 2009|
By Mihiri Fonseka
An LTTE Black Tiger cadre last week confessed to attempting to kill 5000 soldiers by blowing up the Iranamadu tank…
He is a 22 year old youth wearing three quarter trousers and a red T-shirt. His appearance looked rather rough, as he had not shaved in days, while his eyes wore a hunted look.
As I stood there looking at him, it came to my mind that on the face of it, there was no difference between the two of us. However, I am someone who loves life, whereas he is not only prepared to take his own, but lives of others as well. He made only one request from me and that was not to reveal his name. With the aid of a Tamil interpreter, we have translated the story he narrated:
I was born in Jaffna and educated at a leading school in town. I wanted to work at a bank by the time I sat for my O/Levels. Since my father was a government employee, he wanted me to obtain a good education. I sat for the O/Level examination in 2004 and passed well. That was during the ceasefire period, when the LTTE had political offices in many places.
Prison if I refused
One day, I received a message to come to an LTTE office. When I went there, the head of the office told me to join the organization and threatened to land me in prison if I refused. They took me to Kilinochchi. My dream of becoming a bank official was shattered. But, I could not do anything against the LTTE, so I decided to resign to my fate. The LTTE kept me in Kilinochchi for 6 months and gave me training. Then they took me to the Mullaithivu jungles, where I was handed over to the Sea Tigers. There were around 30 of us at that camp. We were trained to swim for miles and also trained in handling weapons such as T56 and RPGs. The LTTE also gave me training as a medic, since I had done well in my education.
We were taken to Puthukuduirippu in Mullaithivu after our training. We went to Pooneryn at the beginning of August in 2006. There we learnt that our armed wing members had attacked Muhamallai from a number of points and entered Jaffna. We were tasked with transporting wounded cadres across the Kilali lagoon to the Pooneryn beach and to treat them there. After that, we went back to Mullathivu, but went to Kiranchi Sea Tiger base a few days later. We were tasked with transporting weapons and ammunition from Silavathurai to Kiranchi. Large vessels from our Sea Tiger wing provided protection for us while we were doing the unloading. We were confined to the Mullaithivu jungles, and had to depend on LTTE leaders to find out what was happening in the outside world.
The LTTE leaders constantly told us that the Sinhala army was slaughtering Tamil civilians. They said that many had died as a result of artillery and air attacks. My mind underwent an entire transformation as I heard these stories. I began to hate the Sinhalese.
I felt that it was more honourable to die as a suicide bomber for the Tamil cause, rather than become a bank official. So, I wrote a letter to our leader Velupillai Prabhakaran one day. I stated in the letter that I wanted to be a Black Tiger cadre. I handed the letter over to the administration section of the LTTE.
Afterwards, I received a letter from Sea Tiger leader Soosai. He said that the leader had granted permission for me to become a Black Tiger. Thus, Soosai recruited me to the “Gangei Amaran” underwater attack squad. We were given a rigorous 8 months of training in the Mullaithivu seas. We were trained to swim underwater with oxygen tanks strapped to us, and also place explosives.
After this training, we removed iron plates from a navy Dovra which had been sunk by the Sea Tigers.
Meanwhile, another group of persons who had completed their training with the unit prior to us went off on a mission. They were the ones who placed explosives under the navy vessel “Invincible” which was anchored in the Trincomalee harbour.
One time, I saw the LTTE testing a submarine it had built. According to my knowledge, the vessel was constructed under the supervision of Prabhakaran’s son Charles Anthony.
In the month of August 2008, Wimal Master, who was in charge of us, gave us a special message. He said that we were being taken to see Prabhakaran. A van came to our camp one day. 15 of us, including myself boarded this van. There were 3 female LTTE cadres in the group. The van took us to another camp. We changed into our uniforms there. A while later, a van which had black tinted windows arrived at the camp. We got into this van and were taken to another location.
The guards who were at this location checked us very thoroughly. They even told us to take off our shoes. After subjecting us to this search, they took us to a hall. Soosai was also there. Around 8.30 P.M. Prabhakaran arrived at the hall. It was the first time I had seen him in person. He was dressed in jungle fatigues and had a pistol in a holster strapped to his waist. We first posed for a group photograph with him in our uniforms. Then, we changed into civilian clothes and posed for another photograph with him. After the photographs, all of us sat down for dinner. The meal consisted of string hoppers and mutton. I don’t eat meat, so I ate string hoppers with some curry. We had ice cream for dessert.
We were the heroes
Prabhakaran gave a speech to us after we finished our dinner. During the speech, he emphasized that we were the heroes who safeguarded Eelam. At around 10 P.M. he and his guards left the hall. After a few days, we received the group photograph in which we posed with Prabhakaran wearing our civilian clothes (The photograph in uniform is routinely only made public after the death of the Black Tiger.)
I saw Prabhakaran a few months later. This was at a function to commemorate Great Heroes’ Day. Prabhakaran’s wife Madhivadhini, son Charles Anthony, Soosai, Swarnam, Pottu Amman and Banu were also there. Prabhakaran lit a lamp and made a speech on the occasion.
On January 23rd 2009, Kandiyan, leader of the Black Tigers instructed us to prepare for a special mission. Myself and another cadre prepared for the mission.
The Black Tiger leader put us in an Intercooler jeep and took us to the LTTE base in Vishvamadu in Mullaithivu. Around 8.30 P.M. Soosai, along with Prabhakaran and his son Charles Anthony arrived at the site. As far as I know, Charles Anthony is in charge of the computer and technical division of the LTTE. Soosai explained a detailed plan listed in the computer. According to the plan, we were to swim underwater and blow up the Iranamadu sluice gate. According to the plan in the computer, there was 28 feet of water under the sluice gates. This is the deepest point in the tank. Dinesh Master told us that the tank bund will burst due to the pressure created after the sluice gate is blown up. He said that 5000 soldiers would perish after getting caught in a wall of water. Dinesh Master was the Tiger leader who directed this operation.
Dinesh Master told the two of us that the flooding from the burst tank bund will last for 7 days and that 300 Sea Tigers were standing by with boats to kill off soldiers who are trapped by the water. We were then given the supplies needed for the mission. We were given oxygen tanks, 4 bombs weighing 25 kilograms each and satellite phones. Dinesh Master told us that another group was waiting near the Iranamadu tank to aid us.
We left Vishvamadu village on the 24th for our mission. We first had to slip through the defence line running from the east of Iranamadu tank up to Kalmadu tank. Some of our group had already destroyed the Kalmadu tank bund at this time. The army attacked us with RPGs as we crossed it. So, we had to abandon the mission and go back to Vishvamadu and meet Soosai.
Soosai then instructed us to blow up the Iranamadu sluice gate using time bombs. He said that we could escape safely as there is a 15 minute delay before the bombs explode. Though we arrived at the site on the 25th we did not receive a call from the others who came to assist us. So, we had no choice but to turn back yet again. On this occasion, Soosai informed us that the satellite phone of the Tiger cadre who came to assist us had fallen into the water.
I was disturbed that the mission was a failure on two occasions. I remembered that I am someone with a good education. I was then confronted by my conscience. I realized that my feelings were starting to change. I asked myself what I am dying for.
However, Soosai asked us to go on the mission for a third time. We arrived on foot to the eastern shore of the Iranamadu tank and swam 3km to the western end. Soosai contacted us by satellite phone sometime later. He ordered us to fix the bombs on the sluice gates and commit suicide. As we set off in the direction of the sluice gates, we saw two vessels of the navy patrolling the tank bund on either side. I felt that they would see us if we went near the sluice gates. I felt that my will to commit suicide was slipping. On the one hand, I could not go back and rejoin the organization. This was because they will still force me to fight, though I had no desire to commit suicide.
I fought with my own thoughts for a few hours. The other chap who came with me was also my age. But, he did not have much education. Thus, I did not believe that he would agree with what I said. I asked him why we had to die for nothing. He in turn asked me what we should do then. I proposed that we hand ourselves over to the army. He agreed.
We wrapped the explosives we had brought in around a tree half submerged in water. We then buried the satellite phones in the ground and went in the direction of the A-9 road to meet the soldiers. We met soldiers on the way. They searched us and took us to a camp.
In the end, I decided to live. It is only now that I understand the full magnitude of what I was going to do. I asked the military’s forgiveness in this regard. They treated me well. All I want now is to see my parents and my brothers and sisters. I have made friends with the soldiers. But they also have the responsibility of protecting me from the LTTE. I know that it is a duty which they will do.
|Last Updated ( Friday, 09 October 2009 )|
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