Timeline of British Intervention in Sri Lanka


A former director of the UK security service MI5, Jack Morton, visited Sri Lanka and made “practical recommendations for the total reorganisation of the intelligence apparatus”. His report described “the depressing picture of apparatus and morale in the security forces tackling the Tamil problem”.


Senior Sri Lankan police officers invited to Belfast to “see at first hand the roles of the police and army in counter-terrorist operations”, as well as attending an MI5 conference on terrorism and visiting the Metropolitan Police Special Branch to discuss Tamil separatists living in the UK. Foreign Office pledges to “discreetly” provide Sri Lankans with para-military training for counter-insurgency operations and commando courses.


British mercenaries operate in Sri Lanka with “no objection” from the UK Foreign Office. Former SAS soldiers, employed by KMS Ltd, trained the Sri Lankan Special Task Force (a notorious police commando unit) and instructed helicopter gunship pilots during live missions.


An SAS officer, who had advised the Indian military on raiding the Golden Temple in Amritsar, also allegedly visited Sri Lanka to advise the Indian Peace Keeping Force. British counter-insurgency expert Major General Richard Clutterbuck allegedly advised the Sri Lankan President on defeating the second JVP uprising.

Early mid-1990s

KMS Ltd was rebranded as Saladin Security and allegedly continued to work in Sri Lanka. Top tier of Sri Lankan army’s officer corps trained in the UK. British defence attaché in Colombo reported to be a counter-insurgency expert, with “first-hand experience in Ireland and Oman” and a protégé of General Frank Kitson.


British officers played a “crucial role” in setting up Sri Lanka’s new Army Command & Staff College. British Colonel permanently attached to the college. Term three syllabus focused on counter-insurgency in Sri Lanka. First batch of students included Kamal Gunaratne, who would go on to be a commander in the killing fields a decade later.


Britain bans LTTE under Terrorism Act. Tigers attack Colombo Airport. Tim Spicer and his firm of Special Forces veterans visit Sri Lanka to advise on port security.


Ceasefire Agreement signed. Britain begins to advise Sri Lanka on its “defence review”


Britain makes substantial arms sales to Sri Lanka.


British defence attaché “instigated a comprehensive training and development programme for the Sri Lankan Armed Forces” over the next three years.


European travel ban imposed on LTTE while Britain held EU presidency.


Sri Lankan government requested British assistance with “Higher Defence (MOD) Management, Security Policy Development and Intelligence, and Policing”. EU places full terrorism ban on LTTE, under heavy pressure from UK and USA.


British consultancy firm, the Libra Advisory Group, “enhanced” Sri Lankan intelligence services.


British security development work ongoing with Sri Lanka.


Top UK diplomat maintained that Sri Lanka should not be on the UN Security Council’s agenda. Foreign Office sends senior Northern Ireland policemen to Colombo as “critical friends”.

When Prime Minister David Cameron travelled to Sri Lanka in November 2013, his visit to the northern city of Jaffna was widely seen as British support for the island’s Tamil population against persecution from the Sinhalese-majority government. This perception gained further credibility in March 2014, when Britain played a key role in passing a resolution at the UN Human Rights Council, which called for an investigation into war crimes committed during the civil war between the Sri Lankan government and the insurgent Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). These recent developments have obscured the fact that successive British governments have helped the Sri Lankan state to suppress the Tamil independence movement since its inception.

Is this current British administration really any different? A Scottish police officer is still stationed in Colombo. His role is to design a new National Police Academy for Sri Lanka, not to investigate war crimes. Just before the fanfare of the latest UN Human Rights Council session, the British government had quietly dispatched its lawyers to a European Court of Justice hearing in Luxembourg, where they argued that the EU-wide terrorism ban must remain on the LTTE. Indeed Whitehall has opposed the LTTE from the very beginning and had provided Sri Lanka with counter-insurgency assistance accordingly – over two decades before it was banned as a terrorist organisation in the UK.

This article traces the contours of British collusion with Sri Lankan security forces throughout the thirty years of genocidal counter-insurgency warfare waged against those Tamils who struggled for an independent state. This relationship has taken various forms, including: black operations by British mercenaries, overt training by UK military officers, supply of sophisticated weaponry, the passing of anti-terror laws and deliberate inaction at the UN Security Council. At every stage, British officials had choices to make. The cumulative outcome of those decisions is evident in Sri Lanka’s brazen mass killings of Tamils on the beaches of Mullivaikal in 2009. But it is a record of those choices that follows here.

Phil Miller is a researcher for Corporate Watch. This article is part of the document, published by the International Human Rights Association Bremen, Germany is an updated version of the evidence Phil gave to the Peoples’ Tribunal on Sri Lanka. Phil’s expert evidence on ‘British State complicity in genocide of the Tamil people’ concentrated on the post-colonial period.

GGI News Staff
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  1. If small and unequipped Army of Sri Lanka under the leadership of @PresRajapaksa can defeat LTTE, what stops @narendramodi to crush Jehadis.

    • So what stops @narendramodi to crush Jehadis? You no need to ask that question it is well known. They say Swadeshi and Swaraj. Where is the real Swadesh and Swaraj? It’s all the is words of mouth but the real thing is that everything is Vedeshi including policies. Do they really have guts to stand up against the agenda of the NWO? IF so then he is really a man!!!

      • Howdu saar, 1984 bluestar, 1983 Nellie, 1980 to 2010 LTTE, 1980 to 2000 Punjab, 1989 to till date Kashmir……
        All due to Modi ?

    • Dear @narendramodi take a leaf frm Sri Lanka n eliminate JKLF lik LTTE.Just close the borders of JK n hand over it2 Army to settle the issue

    • Of Course Swamy is maverick, talks useless things & sometimes targets his party members for his personal issues but he drove away LTTE in TN

      • Dr.Swamy is not the typical “gentlemen” that we cud see in star parties. Vaiko was on LTTE pay roll and Sir won’t let him stay in NDA.

    • Nonsense. Rajiv Gandhi tried to bring peace during the 1980s, but the LTTE trained by Mossad w/ logistics from Subramanian Swamy destroyed it. Yes, see closely, and you’ll see Swamy with dreaded Khalistani terrorist Bhindranwale. To make sure the blame fell on DMK, Swamy’s friend Natarajan ordered ADMK cadres to besiege DMK cadres. In the meantime, PM PV Narasimha Rao destroys proof of Subramanian Swamy’s links to LTTE via Mossad.

      “…Dr.Subramaniam Swamy, leader of the Samajawadi Party, and the man who told ‘India Abroad’ paper in Washington that it was he who used his Harvard contacts (he is a visiting professor) to get David Kimche, the Director-General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, to channel Israeli assistance to the LTTE, including expertise in landmines, as we now know from Viktor Ostrovski and Jane’s Defence Weekly” (Lanka Guardian, Oct.15, 1991, pp.2-6).


  2. File containing intercepted messages from foreign intelligence agencies, said to be addressed to Chandraswami and Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy, destroyed by senior officials in the PMO.

    The crucial third category, say sources, contained wireless intercepts of messages from foreign intelligence agencies to Chandraswami and Subramanian Swamy. These were passed on by RAW to the Cabinet Secretariat. A RAW official confirmed to the Jain Commission that the transcripts had indeed been passed on by the intelligence agency.

    What did some of these missing files have? Intelligence sources say one file contained intercepted messages as well as details of the movements of Subramanian Swamy and Chandraswami on assassination day. It also contains a crucial intercept from Jaffna to LTTE operatives saying that funds had been provided for carrying out the assassination. It refers to a ‘godman’ having made the payment.

    Interestingly, in a statement before the commission, R. Velusami, the then president of the Tamil Nadu unit of the Janata Party, contended that Subramanian Swamy had checked into the Trident Hotel in Madras while Chandraswami was lodged at the Sindoori Hotel owned by Apollo Hospitals on May 21, the day Rajiv was assassinated. Both left for Bangalore by car through Sriperumbudur before reaching Delhi on a special flight.
    He told Outlook: “May I also state that Dr Swamy went via Sriperumbudur and stopped at the venue of the meeting, ostensibly to look at the role of Margatham Chandrasekhar—Congress’ candidate in the parliamentary polls, for whom Rajiv went to campaign in Sriperumbudur—in selecting the site. I declare that Swamy told me about the role played by one JP Builders in persuading Margatham Chandrasekhar in selecting the site (for the Rajiv meeting).”
    Velusami claims he called Swamy’s residence in Delhi at 10.45 am on May 21 and Swamy’s wife told him that he was indeed in Madras. Recalls Velusami: “My efforts to reach him proved futile. According to senior party colleagues, Dr Swamy had an hour-long meeting with S.C. Chandrahasan, a Sri Lankan Tamil ideologue, at Hotel Trident before he vacated the room and proceeded to meet Chandraswami at Hotel Sindoori, owned by Chandraswami’s disciple Dr Prathap Reddy. While I could confirm that a room was booked for Dr Swamy on May 21 at Trident, I could not get any details about Chandraswami’s stay. Sindoori never maintains any document to show Chandraswami’s visits and he stays there as a personal guest of Prathap Reddy.”
    Swamy has been denying that he was in Madras on May 21. But his Tamil Nadu unit chief has given details of his itinerary. Stated Velusami before the Jain Commission: “Dr Swamy admits arriving at Madras on 19.5.91. He admits travelling with me by my car and he admits that we had a halt at Kancheepuram and that I was his translator. He admits that I was with him at Salem at 8.30 pm in the evening on 20.5.91 and that I was his translator in the Salem town meeting. He admits that he was to return to Madras on May 22 and then fly to Madurai via Trichy and that I was to join him at Trichy. He is, however, silent on where he stayed in Madras on the morning of the 21st and how long he stayed there. But in the next paragraph of the affidavit, Swamy does a volte face: ‘On 21. 5.91, I was not in Madras at all or in Bangalore or indeed in south India but I was in Delhi’.”
    He continues: “The issue is, while Swamy contends he gave a statement to the Delhi PTI on May 21, he is very vague about his time of arrival at Delhi. The facts are very clear from even the available documents. He was with me well past midnight on the 20th, which is actually the wee hours of the 21st. It takes six hours to reach Madras by road. If he had reached Delhi by any morning flight, there would be any number of records to show the flight and its time of departure. I have already given proof that a room was booked in Dr Swamy’s name at Trident.” It’s significant that there were several attempts to keep the conspiracy angle out of the ambit of a probe into the assassination. When the Chandra Shekhar regime, in which Swamy was law minister, appointed the Verma commission of inquiry, its scope was limited to investigating the security lapses.


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