Country Report on Terrorism 2019 - Chapter 5 - Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)

Aka Ellalan Force; Tamil Tigers

Description:  Founded in 1976 and designated as an FTO on October 8, 1997, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is a Tamil secessionist group in Sri Lanka.  Despite its military defeat at the hands of the Sri Lankan government in 2009, the LTTE’s international network of sympathizers and financial support has persisted.

Activities:  Although largely inactive since 2009, the LTTE was responsible for an integrated insurgent strategy that targeted key installations and senior Sri Lankan leaders.  In early 2009, Sri Lankan forces recaptured the LTTE’s key strongholds, including their capital of Kilinochchi.  In May 2009, government forces defeated the last LTTE fighting forces, killed members of its leadership including leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, and declared military victory.

There have been no known attacks in Sri Lanka attributed to the LTTE since 2009, but 13 LTTE supporters, several of whom had allegedly planned attacks against U.S. and Israeli diplomatic facilities in India, were arrested in Malaysia in 2014.  Additional members were arrested in Malaysia and India in 2015, one of whom was accused of exhorting other Sri Lankans to fund and revive the LTTE.

Strength:  Precise numbers are unknown.

Location/Area of Operation:  Sri Lanka, India, and Malaysia

Funding and External Aid:  The LTTE’s financial network of support continued after the group’s military defeat in 2009.  The LTTE has employed charities as fronts to collect and divert funds for its activities.