Executive Intelligence Review
This article appeared in the October 13, 1995 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

London runs cover for
terror in South India

by Linda de Hoyos

On May 21, 1991, former Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated at an election campaign rally in Madras, India. The murder method was an RDX bomb attached to a woman who greeted Gandhi, which was exploded either by her or by remote control. Gandhi was killed instantly, along with 15 other people, including the terrorist. By reason of arrested or known persons involved in the assassination plot and the method used, the killing of Rajiv Gandhi, who was expected to win in national elections later that year, was pinned on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) of Sri Lanka, the most vicious separatist terror operation in South Asia.

Within ten days of Gandhi's death, Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa, who would be assassinated by the LTTE in May 1993, forced the hasty departure from Sri Lanka of British High Commissioner David Gladstone. The charge was that Gladstone, a descendant of the Victorian-age prime minister William Gladstone, was interfering in local election politics. But he had also been criticized earlier for allegedly meeting with known drug traffickers in Sri Lanka. Gladstone, who had previously spent years in the Middle East, was a known British intelligence link to the Israeli intelligence service, the Mossad, which was involved in training both the Sri Lankan Armed Forces and the LTTE.

While evidence has never surfaced publicly implicating Gladstone directly in the murder of Rajiv Gandhi, Gladstone's prominent profile in Sri Lanka points to the broader reality of London's terror-capability.

A global strategic impact

First, whatever the LTTE's motivations for murdering Rajiv Gandhi, the killing had a longlasting and global strategic impact—as did the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi's mother, then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, in October 1984. It was expected that Gandhi would again become prime minister of India in elections later in 1991. As Indian Home Minister S.B. Chavan stated on July 26, 1991: "Rajiv Gandhi could emerge as leader of Third World countries, and the newly independent nations were looking forward to India's leadership in the world. This was an irritant in the eyes of some countries, and the probe [of his murder] would have to look into this aspect, whether certain forces abroad could accept Mr. Gandhi as the new leader of the Third World or whether they wanted him to be finished. This issue has got to be gone into in depth, to find out who were behind the killing of the former prime minister." For example, Gandhi had undertaken a series of diplomatic initiatives to avert the full-scale war against Iraq, which Britain's Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had led.

Second, the removal of Gandhi turned India's ruling Congress Party into an increasingly fractured, leaderless group, eroding India's political institutions and paralyzing India on the international scene.

In this context, Gladstone's involvement in circles that overlap LTTE orbits—the LTTE's Mossad trainers and local drug dealers—becomes even more suspect.

Chavan's advisory was not acted upon, by either the Indian or Sri Lankan governments—even though the British Special Air Services and Israeli Mossad are known to have been involved in training both sides in the Sri Lankan civil war, which has claimed 128,000 lives since 1983. In the interim, the LTTE has become so strong, especially with the acquisition of anti-aircraft missiles like those used by the Afghan mujahideen, that President Chandrika Kumaratunga has voiced doubts that the government can defeat the LTTE.

The LTTE did benefit by Premadasa's decision to shut down the "countergang" insurgency to the LTTE: the People's Liberation Front (JVP), a Sinhalese (Buddhist) insurgency and part of the British-based Naxalite Revolutionary Communist Party. By 1992, Premadasa's uprooting of the JVP put that terrorist operation into dormancy. The LTTE then turned against the government—in alliance with London! In March 1993, Premadasa was interviewed by the British Broadcasting Corp.:

"BBC: Using military means does not actually protect the civilians you seek to protect....

"President Premadasa: What is the position when terrorist activities are unleashed on common people, innocent people? You can't expect the armed services people to just look on. They will have to protect the people.

"BBC: You don't feel a need at this stage for a U.N. role in solving what is a long-standing dispute in which many thousands of people have lost their lives? ...

"President Premadasa: They may not have a role. But what I am saying is we are capable of doing so if we have the will.... Only one group is now outside the democratic process. It is the LTTE. It is conducting an armed struggle in the north and east. Our conflict, I must say, is not against Tamil-speaking people. It is against terrorism.

"BBC: At this stage the amount of money expended on defense (30% of the budget), on military expenditure is not going to go down?

"Premadasa: It has in fact gone up.

"BBC: Do you feel that is justified? ... Amnesty International reports there are still human rights abuses taking place."

Perhaps, it might be asked, for such protection from London, the LTTE is willing to do odd jobs for British intelligence—such as the murder of Rajiv Gandhi?

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