Prabhakaran’s Mindset and Influence
By L. Devi Vaanmathy
The decision making of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) was influenced by many Governments in the past. However, most recently an insurgent group from Asia was able to lobby the United Kingdom to initiate a resolution against Sri Lanka. Using votes and donations, the LTTE was able to influence the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the UK through a series of terrorist fronts in the UK. Notorious for launching the largest number of suicide attacks before the advent of the Islamic State, the LTTE diverted its funds from weapons procurement from North Korea to lobbying western politicians. Although the LTTE is defunct in Sri Lanka, its Headquarters is in London and the psyche of its ruthless founder is driving the campaign.
Velupillai Prabhakaran, who led a ruthless insurgent movement for more than 30 years, targeted not only the Sinhalese but also countless lives of respected intellectuals, politicians, democrats, artists, civilians and all anti-LTTE men and women from all communities. He tried very much to sustain his bloodbaths with the LTTE which originated in 1972 however, it did not begin to operate until 1974 their main intention was to infuse an eternal agony and fear. His vicious cycle of violence captured public attention on 27 July 1975 after murdering the Jaffna Mayor, Alfred Duraiappah.
As the mastermind behind all the atrocities the LTTE committed, he engineered the assassination of a Sri Lankan President, an Indian Prime Minister, a host of Ministers, Buddhist monks, Hindu and Catholic priests, High profiled chiefs of the Armed Forces and the Police, thousands of innocent civilians, and almost anybody whom he found threatening. Mother Lanka had to face the harsh bitterness of the war which had a series of bomb explosions, massacres, bloodbaths. Heinous crimes against humanity were his bread and butter and part of his daily agenda.
His unforgiving campaign to push for Tamil Eelam, an independent State, carved out of the Northeastern Province, left many dead. With a strong vengeance that was numbingly brutal and dreadful, he was primarily responsible for the outbreak of a series of illegal activities such as smuggling of weapons and humans, money laundering, extortions, bank robberies, ransoms, tax collections, thefts of vehicles and the pioneering of suicide bombing. He extensively used innocent civilian as human shields during the war.
Ironically, while nursing and caring for his children and wife, he ruthlessly recruited thousands of Tamil children to carry weapons. He stole the childhood of these children and sent them to harsh training centres forcing them into terrorist activities, despite several protests from parents and adults. whilst creating international and national pressure he led a very luxurious life away from others and maintained more than four security layers and protective rings. As the founder of the LTTE, he made many efforts to stretch his dictatorship even over his own comrades and further went to the extent of decimating all those who he felt were a threat to him. Narayan Swamy explains this in his book which critically documents Prabhakaran’s profile and provides a backdrop of the Lankan crisis. He has given a clear picture of the ruthless side of Prabhakaran which is most apparent, however, what Narayan Swamy has achieved most efficiently is to expose his unknown personal life.
When we take a look at how this terrorist was influenced to carry out the deeds he committed a critical evaluation must be made about his past some known facts pointed out. His home town was famous for smuggling and boats from there frequently sailed to Rangoon, Chittagong, Rameshwaram, Nagapattinam and Cochin. This explains how he had the means and connections between these ports. The stories and conversations with his father about the worsening ethnic relations in the country could had have deeply embedded a sense of hate and animosity towards the country.
Just as any other child who would role play into his or her favourite character it was said that when he was a child he idolised Subash Chandran Bose, Adolf Hitler, Bhagat Singh and was devoted to the military exploits of Napoléon this might have been what changed his mindset? He studied at different schools in Jaffna, Vavuniya and Batticaloa because his father was constantly transferred. He was not a model student and did not pass his GCE O/Levels as his interest was elsewhere rather than in formal education.
The corroborative testimony of Raghavan, who joined the Tamil New Tigers in 1974 and quit the organisation in 1984 provides further insights:
“…Thangathurai was pro-US and pro-Israel. Prabhakaran was also of the same mindset but he was also, strangely, inspired by Hitler. He had with him a copy of ‘Mein Kampf’. He also was inspired by Bhagat Singh and Subash Chandra Bose. It was a strange combination. On the one hand, I think he had ideas about Jewishness, the state and the formation of Israel. On the other hand, the idea of eliminating the “other” came from Hitler. There was a connection in his mind….” - interview with Ahilan Kadirgamar.
Che Guevara was also another Influence. During his sojourn in India in the early 1980s it was said that he spoke highly of the Latin American revolutionary and the Cuban struggle and even posed for the camera with a beret in the late 1980s (Tekwani 2009). Thus, it leads to the question was there any reason to suspect that this presentation of self was merely a propaganda device inspired by Anton Balasingham and meant to cultivate Indian Media personnel and the Left radical world in general? Prabhakaran also sought out a translation of Che Guevara’s writings in 1978/79 (Narayan Swamy 1994: 79-80), an investigation should be carried out to see whether the enthusiasm for the contemporary Marxist and Naxalite struggles in various parts of the world was part of his thinking in 1968/69 and early 1970s?
He was highly governed by the iron discipline and victories of Hitler’s Army. He tried to enforce the German Army’s practices in to the training of the terrorists. It was a known fact that Hitler’s Army made victories of its own which influenced him, he held in esteem the discipline and firmness of Hitler’s army. He also read many Tamil novels, particularly those with a slice of historical background. His favourite historical novel was Ponniyin Selvan the magnum opus of Kalki Krishnamurthy. He was also fond of the historical novels of Akhilan and Chandilyan. When the LTTE built its first maritime vessel it was named Kadal Puraa (sea dove) Inspired by the novel which was written by Chandilyan. However, the Tamil novel read he re-read was Kallukkul Eeram (Moisture within the Stone) by R.S. Nallaperumaal. It was set against the backdrop of India’s freedom struggle against the British Government and forces.
The chief protagonist was a character named Rangamani who did not believe in Gandhi’s ahimsa (Non-Violence) mode of struggle and espoused violence as the appropriate method to liberate India. No wonder he loved this novel although there is a change of heart in the end of the book, but for the real-life protagonist there was no moisture in the stone thus it is very well explained through his behaviours.
As a child, his favourite and most cherished toy was the catapult which he used countless times to kill chameleons, squirrels and birds. Apart from the catapult he also had in his possession an arrow, and later acquired an air gun. During his childhood he was glued to Phantom comics and had a great influence on certain cartoon characters and copied their moves.
One may wonder how Prabhakaran’s life at school might have been; was he an obedient student who liked attending school to inculcate his knowledge and spend quality time with his friends? absolutely not. He did have a close friend named Sathasivam Krishnakumar or also known as “Kittu”. The two friends were reported to experiment with explosives made from chemicals which was stolen from the Chidambram school.
Thus, it is clear that the only passion he had since the time of his childhood was to realise the militancy fantasy. His life thereafter transformed to a spartanic lifestyle. He endured all sorts of hardships to be subjected to an iron discipline and gained his own evil reputation and worn it as a badge of honour. To become mentally strong, he practiced killing and torturing small animals. This was a premonition that one day he would not hesitate to pick up a gun and shoot an innocent civilian without blinking showing the ruthless side of his nature.
The LTTE hunted down and tracked all the Tamil citizens and forced the recruitment of Child soldiers and when they did not come voluntarily, the LTTE began to conscript, forcing each household in the region it controlled to send a fighter. Tamil families, irrespective of whether they supported the Tigers, or not, they began to face regular pressure to supply funds. The Families that did not supply either fighters or cash had to anticipate the possibility of their children to be disappeared in the night, their house being burnt, or that one member of their family might be returning shell-shocked from a brutal Tiger interrogation or "political retraining."
The international communities have been blinded by the LTTE sympathisers living abroad from the real story of the LTTE who recruited civilians, including small children and, used innocent civilians as a tool of war trapping them in their last sanctuary as human shields during the later stage of the conflict. Brutal as the Tigers are, their campaign has been with a hidden agenda to sustain a bitter ethnic conflict between Tamils and Sinhalese that will not end with the war. He even managed to create bullets which were fired using gunpowder that was collected from the tip of matches. He was always secretive about his identity and took extreme precautions to avoid being caught, but the valiant Sri Lankan military finally abolished his leadership and protected the country’s civilians who were ensured their right to life and paved the way for a peaceful life now enjoyed by Sri Lankan citizens.
He the main engineer behind the LTTE flag based on the symbol of the ancient Chola kings who invaded Sri Lanka. He was highly influenced by the western movies back in the time. Prabhakaran was a meticulous planer and detail oriented, that once he selects his target, he stayed focused on them for weeks and even months. He has assassinated some of the highest profiled leaders and military personals and was equally ruthless in hunting down Tamil politicians he considered a threat as listed below;
Heads of State and Government such as Ranasinghe Premadasa - Former President of Sri Lanka, Rajiv Gandhi- Former Prime Minister of India.
Lalith Athulathmudali - Former Sri Lankan Cabinet Minister of Trade, National Security, Agriculture, Education and Deputy Minister of Defence.Gamini Dissanayake- Former United National Party presidential candidate and Leader of the Opposition, Former Sri Lankan Cabinet Minister of Irrigation, Power, Highways, Land, Land Development, Plantation Industries, Mahaweli and Mahaweli Development & Former Chairman of the Sri Lanka Cricket Board
Lakshman Kadirgamar - Former Sri Lankan Cabinet Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka, Prominent Tamil diplomat, politician and lawyer.
Senior military officers: Admiral Clancy Fernando - Former Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy and the long list continues……..
The LTTE were one of the world’s most brutal insurgent groups. They had a well-trained and disciplined militia cadre, a full-fledged naval wing and an air force wing comprised of rudimentary light aircraft. They used children as fighters, used woman as suicide bombers to assassinate political heads and carried out daring raids on Government installations. Prabhakaran always had the ability to speak powerfully to Tamil alienation; he offered angry people the promise of revenge, he skillfully tapped into their frustrations. He repeatedly failed to rally world opinion behind the Tamil cause; instead, he did the opposite through the use of tactics such as suicide bombings and conscripting children.
Like Hitler he raised to a state of power, however Kilinochchi which was his last de facto capital, fell in January 2009 thereafter in just four months he was shot dead dropping the curtains on one of the world's longest and bloodiest insurgencies. He is a person with an elusive mind, his keen interest in reading Hitler combined with other influences heavily impacted him to be the person who he was. Prabhakaran was a fierce and tempered person with an attitude like a quick fuse and killed as many citizen and leaders to build up a reputation of a feared terrorist. Does a person like him need an amnesty or speech to defend at the UNHRC session? The International forums and organisation need to see the real profile of this radical terrorist and condemn the LTTE Diaspora for glorifying and initiating false propaganda.