Strange Goings On In The Region

By Syed Akbar Ali

A few years ago a cargo plane landed somewhere in India with an illegal cargo of weapons on board. The plane was crewed by British and South Africans. The Indians seized the weapons and charged the crew with illegal gun running.

More recently, August 9th, after the death of Prabakaran the LTTE leader in Sri Lanka another top leader of the LTTE by the name of Kumaran Pathmanathan (known as KP) was caught in a South East Asian country and handed over to the Sri Lankans. You can read about it here.

“It was suspected by investigation and intelligence agencies for some years that KP was residing in the South East Asian country and operating clandestinely from there with the help of LTTE sympathisers in the local Tamil community—of Sri Lankan as well as Indian origin.

For nearly 20 years he was a great asset to Prabakaran and the LTTE not because of any special political acumen he had, but because of his ability to work clandestinely without attracting much public attention to himself. He emerged as the alleged main brain behind the LTTE’s vast arms procurement, gun running, arms piracy from ships in mid-sea, money-laundering and commercial shipping network”.

Just last Friday in Manila, Philippine authorities seized a foreign cargo ship after crates of automatic rifles and other military equipment were found in its shipment.

"The captain and 13 crew members of the Panama-registered M/V Captain Ufuk were also detained at the port of Mariveles town in Bataan province, 45 kilometres west of Manila. The ship docked Thursday at the port without prior notice, raising suspicion among customs and coast guard officials who immediately boarded the vessel for inspection.

Regional police said the ship was on its way to the province of Batangas, just south of Manila, from Turkey. The ship is believed to have passed by Indonesia on its way to the Philippines.

An inspection of the cargo yielded 50 pieces of [Israeli-made] Galil rifles and assorted military accessories hidden in five wooden crates.

Criminal charges were being prepared against the ship's captain, identified as Lawrence John from South Africa, and the 13 Georgian crew.

Phillipine media report that the ship was only part of the picture. Much of its cargo had already been unloaded by a local yacht called the M/Y Mou Man Tai which was registered under the name of one Dave Smith of Cebu Tranquila Realty Inc, Mandaue City, Cebu."