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Pottu Amman relieved of duties

[DailyMirror, Friday, 26 December 2008 08:45 No Comment]

PodduAmman_05_11_07_J The internal conflict among the top leadership of the LTTE came to a head recently when the Tiger Intelligence Unit (TOSI) and the Black Tigers (Karum Puligal) Chief Shanmugaligam Sivashanker, better known as Pottu Amman, was removed from the post by the LTTE Leader Velupillai Prabhakaran.

The differences among the Tiger hierarchy at the moment is similar to the internal conflicts that arose with the breakaway of its Eastern Leader Vinayagamurthi Muralitharan alias Karuna four years ago.

Pottu Amman had been replaced by another senior leader Rutnam Master, who is in-charge of Prabhakaran’s personal security as well as being the head of the LTTE’s Special Force – Radha Regiment and the Air Wing. His personal details are not available, as he has functioned as one of the most secretive operatives within the LTTE.


State intelligence units had uncovered that Pottu Amman, of whom nothing much is known about, had been removed by the LTTE Leader for failing to carry out any attacks on the military as well as VIP targets tasked to him in recent years. Among them were the assassination attempts on Army Commander Sarath Fonseka and Defence Ministry Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. Two lorries laden with a large amount of explosives, that were recovered by the defence authorities were also among the failed attempts of Pottu Amman.


Wanted by the Interpol for terrorism, Pottu Amman has been a man of mystery within the LTTE even more than its Leader Prabhakaran. He headed almost all the operations outside the North and East and masterminded many of the suicide attacks against the country’s political leaders and anti-LTTE Tamil political party members as well as senior military officials. He is one of the most wanted by the Indian defence authorities for the assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.


The removal of Pottu Amman from the Intelligence Unit had been done in mid this year and soon after he had been sent to Muhamalai  for three months by the LTTE Leadership. It is revealed that he was called back to Mullaitivu by the LTTE leadership and had not been assigned for any work thereafter.


With the removal of Pottu Amman the effectiveness of the LTTE intelligence section had seen drastic come down. However, the LTTE leader did not publicise the removal of Pottu Amman as it would directly affect the ground level intelligence operatives, who have direct or indirect contacts with Pottu Amman. Since Pottu Amman’s removal, Rutnam Master had been overlooking the spy section of the organization alongwith the LTTE Leader himself. With the taking over, Prabhakran and Rutnam Master carried out successful attack on the Anuradhapura Air Force base, where a large number of military air craft were destroyed.


However, the second such type of attack on the Vavuniya Air Force base and the Wanni Security Forces Headquarters was a failure. Since then no successful attacks were carried out by the LTTE, except a few bomb explosions in public passenger transport buses.


Although the removal of Pottu Amman did not come to light for a long time, it had taken its toll on the ground level cadres in a bad way. The lack of ground support to carry out any attacks including suicide attacks were the main disadvantage of his removal. In recent times when LTTE suicide cadres had come to carry out attacks in the south, they had not received support from LTTE sympathisers due to the tight security in the country as well as the heavy setbacks suffered by the Tigers in the battle field.


After receiving the training, suicide cadres travel from the Wanni without anything in their posession. When they arrive at the target areas, they have to be provided with accommodation, suicide kits, etc. by others who are assigned to handle them. But in the recent past there had been almost no one to provide such assistance to any of the suicide cadres. The recovery of explosives, suicide kits and ammunition in large amounts was a result of it.


Intelligence agencies also revealed that most of such agents, who provided accommodation, suicide kits etc. had fled the country with a large amount of money, that had been given to them by the LTTE.

Pottu Amman had joined the LTTE in the early 80s after a long stint abroad. His wife is from Sandiweli, near the Eastern University and they have two children– a girl and a boy.  He is said to have been in charge of the LTTE camps in Tamil Nadu coastal areas during the early days of the LTTE.


In 1985 he was kidnapped by PLOTE cadres in Mahalingapuram, Chennai; and was released in exchange for Kannan, abducted by the LTTE.


Pottu Amman had been a threat to almost all second level leaders of the LTTE. Slain LTTE Political Leader S.P. Thamilchelvan, LTTE Sea Tiger Leader Soosai, then Eastern Military Leader Karuna were constantly complaining to the LTTE Leader about Pottu Amman and his activities, as these leaders eyed the second in Command position of the organization. Pottu Amman was virtually functioning as the second in command of the LTTE and used his ‘spy section’ to keep other senior leaders in check. Soon after the air strike on the LTTE Leader’s hideout in Kilinochchi, where Thamilchelvan got killed, it was suspected that the information about the whereabouts of Thamilchelvan had been leaked out to the military by Pottu Amman.


However, knowing these matters, Prabhakaran did not want to appoint any deputies for him.

Despite this development, Prabhakaran had virtually removed most of his senior commanders from their posts including Sea Tiger Leader Soosai and Swarnam for continuous failures in the battlefield. Though they are still in their posts, several other senior leaders have been appointed to overlook them.

‘Colonel’ Bhanu who was the Special Leader of the Charles Anthony Brigade and ‘Colonel’ Velavan, who was the Special Leader of the Impran Pandiya Brigade were also removed from their posts and deployed in the battle field.Soosai also failed several attacks on the Navy in the seas in the recent past. The Sea Tiger unit had lost a large number of cadres and boats as well.


Wanni battlefield

Following days of heavy and intense fighting between troops and the LTTE in the borders of the Kilinochchi town, west of Paranthan, Adampan, Nevil, Puthumurrippukulam and Iranamadu, troops of the Task Force -1 now engaged in West of Paranthan, on Tuesday consolidated 300metres further southwards along the LTTE built earth bund cum ditch and captured an LTTE strongpoint, Sinna-Paranthan.


During the fighting over 20 LTTE cadres were killed and many injured. Troops have recovered five LTTE bodies, a similar number of T-56 assault riffles and an I-com set while consolidating defences in the area.

Troops faced stiff resistance from the LTTE in the battle in Sinna-Paranthan, which is located along the A-35 main road, 6km West of the Paranthan Township.


With the battle closing on the LTTE’s administrative town of Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu, the LTTE leadership has called almost all the Sea Tigers to the battlefield. Most of the guns that were mounted on the Sea Tiger boats were also removed and brought to the battle front with the intensification of fighting.


According to intercepted LTTE communications ground cadres were ordered to put maximum efforts to prevent the military entering the Kilinochchi town.


However, the LTTE had hinted that they would lose Kilinochchi town and its adjoining areas. LTTE’s Political Wing Leader P.Nadeshan in a recent interview had said that


Even though Kilinochchi falls they would continue fighting.


Earlier, LTTE chief Prabakaran in mid-November assured to defend its main garrison town, while promising to stall the surging military offensives aimed at Kilinochchi. But now the troops had entered the northern part of the Kilinochchi town.


Secret operation to attack BIA revealed

Details of a covert operation to raid the Bandaranaike International Airport was revealed on the Christmas Day night, by a special intelligence team.


Accordingly, two LTTE suspects one from Vavuniya and Negombo had been arrested. They had told the defence authorities that while launching an attack using LTTE air craft, a simultaneous the ground attack was planned using more than 20 suicide cadres to raid the Airport and adjoining air force military complex, where the Kfir and Mig fighter jets are housed.


It is learnt that already some of those LTTE cadres for the attack had arrived in the Katunayake area. Their main objective had been to destroy air force fighter jets, that continuously target the LTTE military positions in the Wanni and to isolate the airport internationally.


The weapons and suicide kits for this planned operation had reportedly been brought to the Katunayake area already, according to the arrested suspects.


Police believe that several military items, including explosives and suicide kits that were recovered from Kimbulapitiya in Negombo had been brought to carry out the attack on the airport.

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