Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The LTTE Intelligence Wing

Author’s Note
            As stated below I am a former LTTE intelligence wing cadre who defected from the organization and currently works as an analyst. I have been working on the following paper since winter 2006 and decided to post it on a blog as I saw an attempt by the LTTE to circulate a false propaganda that internally displaced people in northern Sri Lanka are being held in “internment camps” or as described on their own words as “concentration camps”.
            However the truth is that the Sri Lankan Government has planned to open five welfare centers to house Tamils fleeing the last 100 square kilometers patch of jungle where the army has pinned down the remaining LTTE cadres who try to infiltrate liberated areas disguised as civilians. Therefore the security has to be paramount and it was the only way to prevent LTTE suicide attacks like the one that killed 20 soldiers and eight civilians on February 10, 2009. It is against this backdrop I have decided to disseminate the modus operandi, tradecraft and the structure of the LTTE suicide killer squad which is part of the “LTTE Intelligence Wing” formally known as the "Tiger Organization Security Intelligence Service" (TOSIS) to the world.
The author would like to dedicate this article to Colonel Tuan Nizam Muthaliff RWP,MI (July 12, 1966 - May 31, 2005) was the former Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion Military Intelligence Corps, Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) of Sri Lanka, whose perseverance and courage in the face of adversity have served as an inspiration.

Winter 2006


“Secret operations are essential in war, upon them the army relies to make its every move. ... An army without secret agents is exactly like a man without eyes or ears.” 
                    Sun Tzu, The Art of War.

It has been said by many that in order to fight a war; every organization must consist of a secret service or organization especially dedicated to intelligence gathering operations. It may be a government agency, military and the police. It is also relevant to a non-state actor or a terrorist group. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) also known as the Tamil Tigers, a guerilla-cum-terrorist organization that has been fighting to establish a separate homeland for minority Tamils in northern and eastern part of Sri Lanka, has staged about 250 suicide attack operations since July 1987 till the present day. All these have been within Sri Lanka, with the exception of the assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi by Thenmozhi Rajaratnam alias Dhanu on 21st of May 1991. With a few exceptions, the LTTE has claimed responsibility only for the suicide-attack operations it has conducted against military targets in Sri Lanka's northern and eastern region. The organization refrains from claiming responsibility for operations against VIP targets as also non-military infrastructure targets since all such missions and/or operations are carried out by its Intelligence Wing. Attributable to this Intelligence Wing’s operations the LTTE is labeled as a “terrorist outfit” rather than a “liberation movement” by the USA, Canada, EU and India.

Even though the Terms of Engagements (TOE) and/or the Rules of Engagements (ROE) differ from a conventional force, a terror network’s secret missions and/or operations are still conducted in a well organized and professional manner nowadays. As I had no choice but to work for the Intelligence Wing of the LTTE, I experienced how a terrorist “cell” is structured and operates. As far as I know they were not well structured to begin with. But after going through a great loss of their sources such as agents and informants who were identified and arrested by the security forces, the LTTE organization realized that it should establish a professional intelligence unit.

However, since they don’t have the resources that a government intelligence agency would have, the LTTE organization mostly tend to rely on Human Intelligence (HUMINT) only rather than sophisticated Signal Intelligence (SIGINT), Electronic Intelligence (ELINT), Imagery Intelligence (IMINT) and Technical Intelligence (TECHINT) etc. In order to train their cadres the organization acquires books, magazines, films/movies and training manuals from foreign countries to learn about the world’s famous intelligence agencies such as Gestapo of Germany, KGB of Soviet Union, CIA of America, MI5 and MI6 of Britain, SDECE/DGSE of France, Savak and Vevak of Iran, Mossad and Shin Bet of Israel, RAW of India and ISI of Pakistan. They also bring in mercenaries to train their most senior cadres who have the linguistic skills and later those senior cadres train the rest of the intelligence wing cadres in the organization. For instance, LTTE’s Intelligence Wing somehow managed to acquire the original copy of the training manuals which belonged to Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) the Pakistan’s internal and external intelligence agency.

LTTE Intelligence Dominance

In the region of Indian subcontinent, LTTE has been a sort of pioneer for terrorism. Some of its ground-breaking achievements have been: suicide vest/belt, suicide vehicle bombing, elimination of leaders and suicide commando raids, all of which the Taliban and al-Qaeda are following in FATA. The think-tank behind all these terrorist groups’ operations including the LTTE is without any doubt the Pakistan military backed Inter Service Intelligence (ISI). As an insider of the LTTE’s Intelligence Wing, I’m very well aware that after the successful assassination of Rajiv Gandhi by the LTTE, the ISI cunningly exploited the opportunity to use LTTE to systematically destabilize India from the south where India’s strategic hard targets are located. Since then the ISI began covertly aiding the LTTE with intelligence trainings and tactics. For instance, in 1993 I underwent almost a year of intelligence training program which included intelligence gathering, intelligence analysis, agent recruitment, handling and exploitation by Mathavan Master of LTTE intelligence wing, based on the original ISI agent handling and exploitation model.

In May 1993, following the assassination of Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa which was led and handled by Janan Master of LTTE Intelligence Wing, Pirabhakaran and his intelligence chief Pottu Amman decided to send Janan Master to Tamil Nadu to act as liaison between the LTTE intelligence wing’s “political activities and liaison division” and the pro-LTTE political party leaders in Tamil Nadu such as V.Gopalaswamy, President, Marumalardchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhakam (MDMK), Dr. S. Ramadoss, the founder-leader of Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), Pazha Nedumaaran, President, Tamil Nationalist Movement (TMM), K. Veeramani, President, Dravidar Kazhagam (DK), and Thol.Thirumavalavan, President, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Kadchchi (VCK).

There was also another reason behind sending Janan Master to Tamil Nadu. Aftermath of the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, India’s external intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) waged a massive covert operation against LTTE. For this mission, RAW formed a squad which consisted of ex-LTTE cadres who were kept as prisoners in Veloor prison in Tamil Nadu. RAW indoctrinated these prisoners to infiltrate LTTE and to assassinate Pirabaharan and five other senior cadres. In order to make LTTE believe this ploy, RAW claimed that these prisoners broke out of prison by killing the guards who actually were killed by RAW to keep their cover story alive.

But due to LTTE's excellent counter intelligence unit led by Kapil Amman and the RAW's incompetence, this mission was a huge disaster and embarrassment for India. LTTE mounted surveillance on all of RAW's rings inside their controlled area and arrested all the agents, spies and the cadres who were involved and eventually wiped out all of them. The prime “mole” inside LTTE was ex-deputy leader Gopalaswamy Mahendararajah alias Mahattaya, who is the one that revealed all these, details to every LTTE cadres by confessing just before LTTE executed him. Therefore, Pirabhakaran also wanted to know the mindset of the Tamil Nadu politicians towards his organization at that time in order to ignite the Tamil nationalism induced by the politicians by placing a liaison.

The LTTE as a template for terrorism

In summer 1995, I was given a video tape by Pirabhakaran’s military advisor Thinesh Master, to identify what type of an aircraft was shot down by LTTE missile so that they can provide with the technical details of the particular air craft from the Jane’s aircraft manual, to the LTTE controlled news papers, in which I saw a few men with long beard who were wearing turban, giving demonstrations to LTTE cadres in Jaffna how to shoot down the Avro HS-748 transport aircraft with a shoulder-fired surface to air Stinger missile. I was really curious and asked Thinesh Master who were those men and he replied that they were Afghan-Mujahideens.

According to Sri Lanka’s ministry of defense, intelligence experts have long suspected the existence of connections between the LTTE and other internationally designated terrorist organizations including al-Qaeda and the Taliban. These connections came under more detailed scrutiny as a result of 9/11 attacks. Some of the incidents cited to prove these suspicions include:

· The similarities between previous LTTE attacks against Sri Lanka Navy ships and the al-Qaeda attack on the USS Cole which killed 17 US Navy sailors.

· Evidence that the LTTE provided forged passports to Ramzi Yousef, the man who carried out the first attack against the World Trade Center in New York in 1993.

· The smuggling of weapons by the LTTE from Islamics in Pakistan to their counterparts in the Philippines.

· Allegations that the LTTE stole Norwegian passports and sold them to the al-Qaeda organization to earn money to fund their arms purchases.

· Increasing intelligence reports that the LTTE was smuggling arms to various terrorist organizations using their covert smuggling networks, and findings by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies that they were building commercial links with al-Qaeda and other militants in Afghanistan.

Other security experts including Glen Jenvey have also claimed that al-Qaeda has copied most of its terror tactics from the LTTE. He highlighted the LTTE as the mastermind that sets the pattern for organizations like al-Qaeda to pursue. Some of the comparisons he used to draw his conclusions are:

· The LTTE invented the modern suicide bomber and deployed it against political, military, and civilian targets. Islamic groups copied the LTTE by carrying out similar suicide attacks.

· The LTTE attack on the World Trade Centre in Sri Lanka was followed by attacks by al-Qaeda on the World Trade Center in New York.

· The LTTE's use of a women's section has being copied by al-Qaeda and Chechen terrorists, for example the "Black Widows" who played a role in the Moscow theater hostage crisis and have carried out suicide bombings.

· Attacks on civilians in buses and trains in Sri Lanka are similar to the al-Qaeda attacks on public civilian transport during the July 2005 bombings in London.

In this context it is vital to analyze the LTTE’s Intelligence Wing, also known as “The Tiger Organization Security Intelligence Service” (TOSIS) in detail. The TOSIS was reportedly founded in the end of 1980s, when the LTTE was fighting with the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF). It was functioning as the prime intelligence service of the LTTE until 1993 when it formed a military intelligence service. Since then the TOSIS divided into two sub units. Parallel to the so called “National Intelligence Service”, the LTTE ran a so called “Military Intelligence Service”. The latter did not have cadres on the ground in the hostile area but it had agents in the Sri Lankan security forces. The presence of a second intelligence service gave the LTTE the advantage of cross-checking and verifying both raw data and assessments.

(i) National Intelligence Service, (known as Thesiya Pulanaivu Pirivu) headed by Pottu Amman

Although LTTE was trained by the India’s RAW in the early 1980s, the LTTE’s National Intelligence Service’s strategic operating structure and tactics are similar to the “Mossad-of the 1980s” except its agent handling model. Also the amount of personnel engaged in both Mossad and the LTTE are about 1500. Further more, just like Mossad’s operating language is Hebrew, one of the reasons LTTE’s intelligence wing is successful because they function entirely in Tamil. For instance, a field intelligence officer of Mossad known as “Katsa” will be a “Mukavar” in LTTE. Also the special operations division in Mossad which is “Metsada” will be the “Ellalan Padai” in LTTE. The way Mossad has access to Jewish helpers all around the world called "Sayanim" also imitated by the LTTE using Tamil diaspora around the world called "Pulathil". Evidently the LTTE-Mossad nexus was further corroborated when ex-Mossad officer Victor Ostrovski’s book “By Way of Deception” was published in September 1990.

There are 5 known departments.

# Collections Department

Known as “Thakaval Sekatippu Pirivu” and is headed by the deputy Kapil Amman. It’s the largest department with the responsibilities of agent handling and espionage operations, with sub-divisions in Northern, Eastern and Southern parts of Sri Lanka. This body also coordinates with the LTTE’s police force in the areas they control. The department consists of a number of desks which are responsible for specific areas such as,

Agent Handling
Counter-Espionage Operations
Internal Security
Political Activities and Liaison Division
Interrogation and Detention Center

# Research and Publications Department

Known as “Aaivu Mattrum Veliyeeddu Pirivu” is headed by Mathavan Master and is responsible for intelligence production, including daily situation reports, weekly summaries and detailed monthly reports. The Department is organized into number of categorically specialized sections such as,

Planning and Operations
Press and Library
Dubbing Movies

# Special Operations Division

Also known as “Ellalan Padai” is headed by Janan Master who is also the Principal Agent Handler of the LTTE intelligence wing. The “Black Tigers” - a highly secretive suicide squadron - is also attached to this division under the direct command of the LTTE leader. This secretive squadron conducts highly sensitive operations such as,

Sabotage and Raids
Paramilitary Operations
Psychological Warfare Projects
Propaganda and Deception Operations

# Training and Technology Department

Known as “Payitchi Mattrum Tholilnudpa Pirivu” and is also headed by Mathavan Master. It is responsible for all sorts of training and development of advanced technologies for support of both National and Military intelligence, including suicide vest/belt, modifying weapons and explosive filled vehicles, spy tools and etc.

# Administration and Records

Also know as “Nirvaakam Mattrum Arikkai Pirivu” and is headed by Sankar. This body particularly focuses on the administration, personnel, finance, transport and welfare.

(ii) Military Intelligence Service, (known as Iranuva Pulanaivu Pirivu) headed by Sasikumar Master

The Military Intelligence Service of LTTE was formed in 1993 almost 10 years after they had established their primary so called National Intelligence Service; in order to keep the military related operations compartmentalized. There was a “Long-Range Reconnaissance Patrol” (LRRP) team operating under the LTTE’s military wing known as “Viseda Vevu Pitivu” that reached a milestone victory by playing a key role in assassinating a top Sri Lankan Army General Denzil Kobbekaduwa and ten other high rank army officers with him. The LRRP cadres infiltrated and laid an anti-tank mine into a military complex in the northern part of the Island. The LTTE’s Sasikumar Master, was praised by its leader for the victory and appointed as the head of the Military Intelligence Service.

The Military Intelligence Service was relatively small and operating on a lower scale compared to the National Intelligence wing. It only focuses on gathering intelligence on Sri Lankan security forces. Even though the operations are highly compartmentalized, the military intelligence service however relies on LTTE’s national intelligence service for their training and advanced technologies.

There are 4 known departments.

# Collections Department on Sri Lanka Army

Known as “Iranuva Thakaval Sekarippu Pirivu” and is headed by Kowthaman. This body exclusively gathers intelligence on SL Army bases, artillery units, armored core, heavy weapons, infantry vehicles and high rank officers and their families. They study in detail the entire army’s Order of Battle (ORBAT) structure such as each division and divisional commanders, each brigade and brigade commanders and each regiment and regimental commanders up to the company, platoon and section level officers and then locating them where they have been deployed on real time.

This detailed intelligence gathering helps them to know the exact strength of each army base located anywhere in the country. For instance, LTTE had been gathering intelligence on a northern army complex called “Pooneryn Military Complex” for almost two years before they successfully raided the complex in November 1993. They monitored army communication transmissions and sent their LRRP team to infiltrate and gathered real time intelligence. Then, they made an exact model of the complex and knew the exact strength of the army, even each officers names, the location of the artilleries and the armored vehicles. Using “Jane’s Main Battle Tanks” catalogue, they even made a model of a driving compartment of the Czechoslovakian made T55 main battle tank that SL Army had in that base, and eventually seized two of them.

# Collections Department on Sri Lanka Navy

Known as “Kadatpadai Thakaval Sekarippu Pirivu” and is responsible for gathering intelligence on Sri Lankan naval bases, harbors, naval vessels and personnel. Since LTTE operates from an island it essentially depends on their sophisticated amphibious group known as the “Sea Tigers” for the logistic support, whose duty is to establish "Sea denial" strategy in northern and eastern territorial waters of Sri Lanka and support the special “Exclusive Economic Zone-Marine Logistics Support Team” (EEZ-MLST) known as the "Aazh Kadal Vazhankal Pirivu" of the Sea Tigers.

It is therefore, this body coordinates with the Sea Tigers, in order to gather intelligence on the SL Naval bases and vessels. It also collaborates with the special “Underwater Demolition Teams” (UDT) known as the “Neeradi Neetchal Pirivu” of the Sea Tigers, who infiltrate the harbors and gather maritime intelligence. On the other hand, acquiring the “Jane’s Fighting Ships” catalogue makes it easy to build models of each and every class of the Sri Lanka Navy fighting ships/gun boats. The EEZ-MLST’s sophisticated maritime surveillance radar systems, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), dual purpose special binocular known as the “steiner” helps to keep surveillance on the daily naval patrolling and their channel.

# Collections Department on Sri Lanka Air Force

Known as “Vaanpadai Thakaval Sekarippu Pirivu” and it is responsible for gathering intelligence on Sri Lankan Air Force bases, aircrafts, helicopters and personnel. To make the task easy, this body coordinates with the LRRP team and the special “Sky Tigers” of the LTTE. The LRRP team infiltrates and gathers intelligence on the Air Force bases, runways, signal stations, hangers, oil storages and personnel. Afterwards the contemporary intelligence will be used to make models of any Sri Lankan Air Force bases. Meanwhile, by gathering data from “Jane’s Fighter Planes” this body works with the “Sky Tigers” unit to make the models of Air Force fighter planes and helicopters.

The final intelligence product will be given to the decision makers who plan, prepare and execute special raids, using highly trained suicide commando units.

# Administration and Records

Also known as “Nirvaakam Mattrum Arikkai Pirivu” and just like National Intelligence Service, this sub-division particularly focuses on the administration, personnel, finance, transport and welfare of the Military Intelligence Service.

(iii) LTTE Intelligence Training Centre (known as Pulanaivu Payitchi Maiyam) headed by Mathavn Master.

"I have a high regard for the LTTE for its discipline, dedication, determination, motivation and technical expertise... I was left with the impression that the LTTE was the expression of popular Tamil sentiment and could not be destroyed, so long as that sentiment remained......"        
 Lieutenant General S.C. Sardesh Pande, IPKF Divisional Commander, Jaffna in his book "Assignment Jaffna"

(a) Recruiting Informants & Public Relations.
(b) Tradecraft and Skills.
(c) Intelligence Gathering.
(d) Intelligence Analysis, Assessment and Exploitation.
(e) Agent Handling.

Recruiting Informants & Public Relations

As intelligence gathering by its very nature a difficult and utmost important task the organization is extremely cautious about recruiting their agents and informants. Most of the times they tend to hire the same ethno nationalist group of people as themselves who also have the potential that access to the enemy’s targets. Therefore they have great public relations among their own people. However they go through an extensive background check of all the individuals they hire. In the process of the background check they focus on the individual’s profile, character, vulnerabilities and motivation to assess if he/she is the right person for the job and what factors make that person to work for them and etc.

An inadequate administration, poor management, discrimination, ignorance and oppression by a government of its own people sometimes drive them to support a terrorist organization. It makes the organization’s job so easy and they take advantage of this opportunity to hire more informants and agents inside the target group. For instance, a few political parties that represents minority group of people in southern Sri Lanka were continuously discriminated and ignored by the successive ruling parties. Since then the LTTE invited these political party leaders (Vaasudeva Nanayakara and Aarumugam Thondaman) who were then members of parliament and indoctrinated them to work for LTTE’s Intelligence Service as long term Resident Agents.

On the other hand, there was a well known journalist named Taraki alias Sivaraman, who used to write weekly defense-situation report. While he was a columnist in a national newspaper in Sri Lanka he was also working for a BBC Tamil reporter known as Aananthi Sooryapirahasam, as a Colombo based defense correspondent. Since Aananthi was already in constant contact with LTTE for their side of the story for BBC, the LTTE’s National Intelligence Service approached Aananthi to set up a meeting with Taraki. After LTTE identified Taraki's potential that he already had a source inside the Sri Lankan Army (Brigadier Sunil Tennakoon), LTTE succeeded in motivating Taraki by offering him money so that he could work as an Agent or Informant for LTTE.

Tradecraft and Skills

The recruits have to go through a certain special training period so that they have the skills to perform their task. They have to learn specific techniques in the trade of espionage. This is called Tradecraft, such as Agent Handling which includes Cover Story, Back-Up, Safe Houses, Live-Letter Box (LLB), Dead-Letter Box (DLB), Covert Communication, Counter-Interrogation, Reconnaissance, Code and Decode, Drawing Maps, Photography, Martial Arts, Linguistic Skills, Driving Skills, Swimming Skills and so on, depending on the task the Agents/Informants assigned to.

During training each recruit will be given a separate facility and accommodation to ensure compartmentalization. When they get together for meetings, classes and briefings they will be wearing a cloth-mask and are not allowed to communicate with each other under any circumstances. Each will be given a number during the training by which they will be called by instructors. There will be a delivery man who provides everything the recruits need including meals.

Once a recruit goes through all this tradecraft and skill training period, which last almost a year, the handlers will make an assessment on each recruit, keeping the individual’s potential and background in mind to confirm if he/she can be their Agent.

Intelligence Gathering

Before the spies and informants are assigned to a mission they’re instructed every single details of the target. For instance, the target could be a harbor, airport, refinery, warship, aircraft or even a VIP whatever it may be; the handlers will brief every single thing about it in detail what they already know and then debrief for the information they need. It’s therefore the informants have to learn about the specific harbor or airport in detail beforehand, so that they can easily provide updates on selected targets. In order to make this task easy the organization hires government employees who work in such harbors or airports, by identifying and confirming one’s potential.

For instance, LTTE intelligence wing hired a retired government employee by the name of Shreeskantharaja (not sure of his sir name), who worked as a panel board controller in Sri Lanka’s largest refinery. They first assigned him to teach a group of intelligence wing cadres everything about a refinery from crude oil tanks to petrol tanks the all process of refining, storing, distributing petrol and then the structure of a refinery. Later they asked him to pay a visit to Colombo where he had his colleagues and friends who were still working in the same refinery. So he went to visit his friends at the refinery and by just touring the refinery he was able to collect the plans of the buildings, maps, the latest technological developments, security measures, storage tanks and its locations. He was just asked to mail the information to a LLB.

Similarly, LTTE intelligence hired an informant who was working in China Bay air force base in Trincomalie as a Leading Aircraft Man. He was visiting his family that was living in LTTE’s controlled area and forced to work for its intelligence wing. Since then whenever he was visiting in he was asked to provide the latest developments, security measures and maps about the Air Force base.

While LTTE intelligence wing was gathering intelligence on Colombo harbour,  they hired a Morattuwa University Engineering Faculty student by the name of Nanthakumar who was studying marine engineering on a scholarship at Mahapola Institute which is part of Colombo port authority. Since he was a student and from a poor family it was very easy to motivate him by monetary means. As he had access to the entire container terminal and the mechanisms he was able to provide the latest developments, maps, locations and security measures.

Intelligence Analysis, Assessment and Exploitation

Once all the intelligence is gathered it has to be centralized in the Data Bank. The Principal Agent Handler (PAH) is in charge of the Data Bank. He’ll be provided with thousands of situational briefing reports every day from various sources. For instance, intelligence wing cadres (spies) who operate from all parts of the country as well as the government employees (informants) across the country, military communication and transmissions monitoring team, special reconnaissance team (LRRP), FDL (border) patrolling and open source intelligence (OSINT) are the primary intelligence gathering tools of the LTTE.

The PAH and his team consist of an Agent Handler (AH), a Deputy Agent Handler (DAH) and about more than a dozen of Principal Agents (PA). All these agents work together on analyzing, assessing and exploiting the intelligence they gather and submit the final intelligence product to the decision makers on real time; in order to take full advantage of any information that has come to hand for tactical, operational, or strategic purposes. Whether the decision makers take any action or not the Principal Agent Handler and his staff will always do an assessment on weekly basis to facilitate the Data Bank.

Agent Handling

The most successful part of intelligence gathering depends on the security and covert communication that an organization provides to its sources. As we all know that without security there’s no Intelligence, it is of utmost importance that an organization does protect its human asset. It can only be done if there’s a systematic way for intelligence to flow from hostile area to the organization’s Data bank. It’s also the Principal Agent Handler’s responsibility to make sure that his sources are safe and secure.

PAH directs the Agent Handler (AH), Deputy Agent Handler (DAH) and Principal Agents (PA) within the organization’s controlled areas, which always work on their desk and thereby are known as “Desk Agents”. There’re another set of agents also directed by PAH who work in the field (hostile area) which is controlled by the enemy and thereby are known as “Field Agents”. There’s always a middle man who works as a “contact” or go between Desk Agents and Field Agents known as the Intermediary or Cut-Out.

In the hostile area there’re well established agents who will be working for PAH known as Resident Agents (RA) who organize and direct compartmentalized “cells” which operate there. Each Resident Agent will deal with a maximum of 4-5 Agents (A, B, C, D, and E) who are cultivated or hired and trained by those Desk Agents. As they work under a considerable amount of risk they have been pro actively given a cover story and a back up to ensure their security. For instance, a well known journalist, who lives in the hostile area might work for the organization, sending and receiving information from all over the parts of the country would have the perfect cover story to be a Resident Agent. Also a marine engineer who works in a harbor would have a perfect cover story to be a source of information who is an Agent.

When a Resident Agent (RA) contacts one of his agents and/or informants A or B or C in order to exchange information he’ll be extremely careful not to expose or compromise them to anyone, even to each other. He’ll be meeting them in different Safe Houses. Afterwards the Intermediary only meets the Resident Agent in a separate Safe House and passes the information to the Desk Agents.

However, in special cases an Agent (A, B or C) might contact the PAH directly without going through the Resident Agent and/or the Intermediary. On such instances, the Agent will use covert communications and code sheets to pass the information. These kinds of “cells” are not only used in order to pass information but also to transfer other resources such as weapons and personnel.

For example, when LTTE’s Intelligence Wing plans an attack on Colombo harbor, first of all they’ll begin with acquiring a blue print of the harbor. In order to obtain a blue print they will identify an employee of the harbor by confirming his potential, mind-set, motivation and risk assessment and then hire him for the job as an Agent/Informant.

This Agent/Informant will be instructed to contact the Resident Agent (RA) on a regular basis and provide the contemporary intelligence. An Intermediary will contact the Resident Agent to obtain the information to pass on to the Principal Agent. On some occasions, the Principal Agent Handler might ask the Resident Agent to mail the information in segments directly to him or to a LLB.

They would also hire another agent who probably works as an engineer at the harbor to give them technical information about the harbor such as storage, oil tanks, container terminals, warehouses, ammunition depots and so on. He will provide the information to the Resident Agent or if he is travelling between government controlled area and LTTE’s controlled area, he could give the information directly to the Principal Agent or even Principal Agent Handler and therefore, could even act as an Intermediary himself.

In the meanwhile, the data bank will provide information to the Intelligence Wing to build a model of the harbor. On the other hand, another “cell” will be engaged to transfer weapons and personnel to the government controlled area, using the same process of agent handling. Finally the attacking squad will be trained and briefed about the plan and sent to the location using another route. Since this is an attack on a harbor the assault team and weapons will be moving to the location by a sea route.

For this mission, if a suicide bomber known as the Black Tiger is required who was cultivated as “sleeper” to use in a long term, will also be contacted by the Principal Agent Handler to brief the plan and provide the weapons and resources by using another “cell”. But under any circumstances the Principal Agent Handler will never expose or compromise the “sleeper” to the rest of the “cells” and vise versa to ensure their security.


As pointed out in Jane’s Sentinel security assessments, the LTTE is a highly innovative force capable of retaliation against aggression, reprisals and pre-emptive strikes. Regular features of the LTTE doctrine includes the unleashing of widespread terror on soft targets. Concentrating on lightly or unprotected targets is a classic diversionary tactic in warfare, pinning down troops to static sentry or bunker duties and restraining search and destruction operations. The LTTE has specialized in surprise raids - many of them suicide bombings. Prime ministers and presidents have been killed, high-security army, navy and air force headquarters infiltrated, passenger planes at the international airport destroyed and the country's many economic infrastructures including central bank blown up. The LTTE has bombed Sri Lankan passenger ships, commercial aircrafts, trains and buses; gunned down priests, nuns, pilgrims and bystanders in a sacred royal city and shot Muslims while worshipping in mosques; frequently raided non-Tamil border villages and towns, massacring men, women and children; and land mined, ambushed and assaulted military and police patrols and posts in Sri Lanka. The LTTE Intelligence Wing threatens not only the domestic stability of Sri Lanka and India but also , by its example,the security of the regional and global system as a whole.

Mao Tse-tung said guerillas are like fish in an ocean of people. The LTTE “fish” brilliantly exploited how to make use of the “ocean” of people. Since every LTTE Intelligence Wing cadre happens to be a Sri Lankan Tamil origin, unfortunately the whole Tamil society in Sri Lanka came into being suspects. In an effort to detect and disrupt a potential attack the Sri Lankan security forces have established extreme security measures. There are check points, cordon and search operations, harassments and humiliations,  abductions, detention camps, aggressive interrogation, and disappearances. Tamil men and women are still being treated in this way on a daily basis because they could possibly be former LTTE Intelligence Wing cadres. These counter measures of the Sri Lankan Security Forces in turn justify   criticism that Tamils are not granted basic human rights within their own homeland.


Intelligence Terminology

Human Intelligence (HUMINT) means intelligence collected by humans.

Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) means intelligence-gathering by interception of signals, whether between people (i.e., COMINT or communications intelligence) or between machines (i.e., ELINT or electronic intelligence), or mixtures of the two.

Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) means information derived by intercepting and studying electromagnetic radiation from non-communication sources, such as radar.

Imagery Intelligence (IMINT) means an intelligence gathering discipline which collects information via satellite and aerial photography.

Technical Intelligence (TECHINT) means intelligence about weapons and equipment used by the armed forces of enemy nations, often referred to as foreign materiel.

Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) means an information processing discipline that involves finding, selecting, and acquiring information from publicly available sources and analyzing it to produce actionable intelligence.

Dead-Letter Box (DLB) means a physical location where communications, documents, and/or equipments are covertly placed for another person to collect, without direct contact between the parties. It’s also known as a Dead-Drop.

Live-Letter Box (LLB) means an address used to receive communication to be forwarded to an Agent and/or Intelligence Agency. It’s also known as a Mail-Drop.

Safe House means a dwelling place or hideout unknown to the adversary.

Cover Story means a persona, profession, purpose, activity, fictitious image maintained by an agent or undercover operative.

Back Up means a support or backing information of an under cover operative, for the purpose of substantiating his/her cover story. It’s also known as Backstop.

Compartmentalization means management of an intelligence service so that information about the personnel, organization or activities of one component is made available to any other component, only to the extent required for the performance of assigned duties.

Principal Agent means an agent who, under the direction of the principal agent handler, is responsible for the operational activities of other agents.

Resident Agent means the head of a legal or illegal residency in the hostile nation who supervises subordinate intelligence personnel.

Agent means a person who is hired by an intelligence agency or security service, to act in their interest.

Intermediary means a contact or go-between used to preserve the safety or anonymity of the Principal and Resident Agents, also known as Cut-Out.

Informant means a member of a target group, who provides intelligence to the surveillance team or organization.

Mole means a spy who works for an enemy nation, but whose loyalty truly lies within his nation's government.

Sleeper means an inactive under cover agent, who is cultivated for long term use.

Tradecraft means specialized techniques used in intelligence operations.

*Note* this is a living document; it is a work in progress. I am still researching details and adding them when I find the info. There are gaps and incomplete sentences and sections. And lots of misspellings. Tons. Believe me...


  1. Nice article. Keep up the good work bro. This LTTE cancer should be eliminated to uplift the livelihoods of all the Sri Lankans. Hope that day is near as it would provide us to live as the children of one mother (Lanka).

  2. Saw your post in Full Comment and scanned your article. Interesting.

  3. wowwwww
    good job
    keep these LTTE checking

  4. What is the " Colonel raju miltary science technical institute" ? Is it an intelligence unit of the LTTE?

  5. “Col.Raju military science technical institute” was the school for the LTTE’s ammunition factory which indigenously produce IEDs, landmines, sea mines, claymores, motor shells, explosive laden boats, vehicles and so on. Raju was in charge for these factories before he died of brain tumor. Soon after he died LTTE had opened this school and named it honoring him.

  6. Thank you for your response as it addresses a question which had been unanswered. The reason I asked is that I saw a recently saw cap badge of this particular institution "Colonel Raju Military Science Technical Institute", which reportedly belonged to a high ranking LTTE officer. The badge was brought back from the recent war. It has as its symbol the LTTE tiger superinposed on a star resembling the of David ( I understand that it is also associated with the God Skanda/ Murugan).The name of the unit is mentioned as is " through unity we have strength" in tamil. The badge is cast silver base metal with a round metal felt-covered backing. It must be quite rare as I have tried to find information online and failed up to now.

  7. I am also interested in finding out the following:
    1- Why did some LTTE fighters wear Tiger stripe uniforms, while others wear civilian clothes? Is there a difference in their status?
    2- Why did some LTTE fighter wear caps with the LTTE insignia and others do not. Does the caps badge denote rank, or is it worn for dress or parade purposes?

  8. Well, for your first query about the badge; LTTE’s each unit has a symbol and the star resembling of David is for the “Col.Raju military science technical institute”.

    Secondly about the uniform is because of the scarcity of material and equipments is the reason why all the LTTE cadres are not supplied with uniforms. Most of the senior cadres have uniform as they have been provided with new ones between 2001-2005 during which period LTTE was rebuilding themselves while talking peace. The cadres who were recruited after that period was not supplied with uniform because of lack of logistics.

    It is the same for the caps with the LTTE insignia.

  9. Thanks again, may I just ask you a few other related questions on the same subject;
    1) Was the type badge of the "Col.Arul Military Science Technical Institute" worn on a tiger stripe cap? Are there any photos of this unit? I have not found any yet online.
    2) Do you have any idea of the strength of this particular unit? were there hundreds in this institute or just a few dozen? my own suspicion is that it must have been quite a small unit.

  10. Sorry my post should read"Col.Raju" (not Arul) and may I ask a third question:
    3) Do you know the country of origin of the LTTE tiger stripe uniform? they are made of high quality cotton and well stitched.

  11. “Col.Raju Military Science Technical Institute" was a small unit of around 50 people under LTTE’s military wing. Since it is part of military wing the cap badge is same as LTTE insignia as other fighting units of the military wing. They wear their corresponding military epaulettee with the uniform on their sleeve near the shoulder.

    About the uniform it was the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of India is the one initially came up with the uniform pattern and design and printed the material in India and even saw it over there. But later LTTE got the materials from India and made it locally.

  12. from what I see the tiger stripe uniform had different colours:
    1- Ground Forces: stripes in sand, brown and green.
    2-Sea Tigers: first 3 shades of navy blue, later same as 1.
    3-Air Tigers: 3 shades of light blue.
    4-Black tigers: 3 shades of grey.
    is this correct? Are there any other variations?I have also seen pictures of womens units where the stripes are as 1, but vertical.

  13. You are right about the uniform colours. To see the uniforms you can visit and see the pictures of different wings and their respective uniforms.

    There are no different uniforms for women. They also wear just like men but they do wear a military belt around their waist over the shirt. Other than that there’s no different.

    As for the vertical stripes men also wear it. It’s up to the tailor how he stitches the uniform economically.

    1. What is the "Captain Thilakar Unit" of the Sea Tigers? I recently saw an enamelled cap badge brought back by a soldier.The badge is blue and dome shaped with crossed swords. On top it has a fishing boat with a white sail and below it a black tiger and on a yellow scroll the words in tamil "Captain Thilakar Padiyan". it is attached with a vertical safety pin, possibly to a cap.

    2. I am not 100% sure but from the way you describe about the badge I can only guess that this is the “Exclusive Economic Zone-Marine Logistics Support Team” (EEZ-MLST) formally known as the "Aazh Kadal Vazhankal Pirivu" of the Sea Tigers. They are responsible for the logistics between the LTTE’s floating warehouses in the international waters to the shoreline of Sri Lanka.

    3. Thank you you for your reply. Let me ask you some more questions
      (1)Who was Captain Thilakar?
      (2)Who commanded the "Aazh Kadai Vazhnkal pirivu"? Did it come under Soosai or under KP?
      (3)what was the strength of this unit.
      (4)What type of boats did they use/ speedboats perhaps?

    4. I really don’t know who Captain Thilakar was.
      Between the periods of 1993-2000, “Aazh Kadal Vazhankal Pirivu” was headed by Brindan Master under the direct command of Soosai; certainly not under KP. The latter was in charge of the “Procurement Wing” at that time. Thus the “Sea Pigeon Unit” which is the LTTE’s merchant fleet was operating under KP’s Wing. All these units were involved in highly clandestine operations. As such not everybody in the organization knew exactly who is who or what their strength was.
      All I knew was, between the above mentioned periods, “Kumudan” class indigenously built boats were used to supply goods from the floating warehouses (merchant fleet) to the coast. They also call it “Dvora Type – Long Craft”, because it’s kind of replica of the SL Navy’s Israeli built Dvora, fast attack craft type of boat.
      For the record, according to an ex-Mossad officer Victor Ostrovski’s book “By Way of Deception”, while Israelis were providing the Dvoras to the SL Navy they also trained the LTTE how to counter it. So there you go........hope it helps!!!

    5. Please type the word EEZ-MLST in google you will find something, not in bing....just a tip.

  14. do you believe that pottu amman still alive, and what happened to kapil amman, i never seen a photo of him.

  15. please be honest, still mistry of pirabhakaran's disappearence, what do u know about pirabhakaran, alive or not, how it was happened?

  16. Can you tell me about the "military science unit" of Ltte, who headed it and what do they really do. I am awe struck at times by the methods used and way ltte took on army till eelam war 3 ... And can you elaborate on vathirayen box battle plan.

    1. LTTE's Military Science Academy was the brainchild of Thinesh Master, who was Pirabhakaran's military advisor. It was functioning under Military Office (MO) since its establishment in 1991 after the first Elephant Pass battle. They conducted research and analysis of every single battle the LTTE fought and made recommendations and suggestions to the LTTE leader and commanders.
      Sorry, I don’t know much to elaborate about Vathirayen box battle, I am afraid.

  17. Could you please advice? An „intelligence wing“ member with the membership number Iyanna xxx has to be ranked where in the hierarchic order? What position did he or she have within the intelligence wing?

    1. Your information pointing to "Iyanna:xxx" only tells me that s/he must have joined the intelligence wing during early 1990s.

  18. Dear Insider,

    Thanks for the valuable information.

    Can you confirm that all numbers of members of the Radha Brigade or Prabakharan's inner circle start with a 0?

    What can you say about the cyber section? Can you confirm that Rathnam Master was in charge? What's the main purpose of the cyber section? Do they closely work together with the computer section?